Sometimes it’s all too clear that a collector’s interests are fiduciary–that he wants to maintain the value of an object for which he may have paid dearly. More often, though, I think their intentions are reasonably pure. If we think a house or painting or photograph or ballet is beautiful, we want it with us always. But the catch is that the more pieces of the past we succeed in preserving, the less space and time we have in which to display and contemplate the present. Too many lovers of art live exclusively in the past. I understand the temptation–I feel it myself–but it strikes me that we have an obligation to keep one eye fixed in the moment, and that becomes a lot harder to do when you’re pulling a long, long train of classics of which the new is merely the caboose….
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