The first vertebra of the cervical spine
daniele dal col

COLLECTING IS NOT MERELY the accumulation of objects but also of information about these objects and their universe. The same goes for stories. There is a lot of love involved in the formation of a collection, in persevering down that road against all the hindrances a beginner might encounter in the market – even though that is changing nowadays. I believe that a private collection should reflect the collector’s taste. Unless the goal is to accumulate capital or gain social validation. The delight in collecting is to make it on your own; one might even consider the occasional specialist’s opinion, but the last word must always be the collector’s. Maybe because my first contact with the act of collecting was an affectionate one, my tendency is to appreciate the collections that reflect the collectors’ tastes, rather than those established by the “time” we live in. Especially because this time/taste is in constant change, and if choices were not made out of affection, a collector might find himself stuck with pieces he doesn’t like and can’t sell because the market – the same market that initially established that taste – changed and will no longer absorb them. Love… is important.

There’s a story behind every piece in the Calmon-Stock Collection: and all these small stories combined make up a bigger story – one of collecting, of patronage, of production, of fetish… of love! This collection exists beyond the pleasure of its owners, or of a closed circle of people close to them. It also includes projects that were put into motion as a result of a specific acquisition, trips that were taken because of a specific acquisition, other works that were created thanks to a specific acquisition.

I met André and Roberto when I lived in Rio de Janeiro and worked at the Laura Marsiaj Gallery, where they both bought some of the pieces that are in the collection. It was always great to get a visit from them – how nice it is to have visitors who truly like art and are actively involved with it! I can’t remember exactly what was the first piece they bought at the gallery, but it feels great to walk around their house and return to pieces I love, and it makes me happy to know that these pieces have found a home with people who are dear to me – because when I really like a specific work and can’t have it, I like to think that, if it’s not with me, it’s with someone great, or that I can visit it once in a while.

André and Roberto’s choices were never obvious. Strange, strong, difficult… Nothing seemed to be an issue to them when they liked a piece. I figured it to be a mix of their individual tastes, but, in one of our conversations, André told me that they also factored in many other tastes: the artists’, the gallerist’s, and other people dear to them. While in the process of building their view, they absorbed other views to form this collection of Bodies, letters and some animals united by tremendous affection. As an example, I’d like to mention Cabelo’s pieces. They are incredible works by the artist, but not the obvious ones or, as another dear collector would say, “The artist’s Abaporu”. When someone is interested in buying a single example of an artist’s production, often disconsidering other more interesting pieces, or even when the market seems to “fence in” the production by demanding more of the same, making it difficult for the artist to try new things, everyone loses. The artist loses because he can’t experiment, the collections lose because they end up all the same. This is not the case in the Calmon-Stock Collection, as we are often surprised by the chosen works. Positively surprised.

THE COLLECTORS not only relate to the objects, living with them – because nothing is kept in boxes or storage, hidden from the eyes – but also to the artists who have produced these pieces. Many of them. That’s why their decision to share the task of organizing this collection with two of these artists does not surprise me in the least.

Everywhere you look, not only on the walls but even in the most unexpected places, walking into their home is like a treasure hunt and at any given moment you can bump into parts of this collection, which doesn’t only include the works themselves but also other objects, toys, books, plenty of books. I sometimes wonder if a certain object is or isn’t a work of art, and millions of associations suddenly become possible.

I enquired about the collection’s first piece and found out it was Atlas, a picture taken by Milton Montenegro. Atlas belonged to the divine generation of disproportionate, monstrous beings – the embodiment of the forces of nature, who prepared Earth to receive life and humans. Together with other titans, he intended to gain supreme power and attack Olympus, overcoming Zeus and his allies. Zeus triumphed and, as a punishment, Atlas was forever forced to hold the sky up on his shoulders. Because he knew the path of distant lands, he came to represent, in cartography, the collection of maps of the Earth; and, because he held up the sky, the first vertebra of the cervical spine was named Atlas – a reference to the gigantic burden he was condemned to carry.

An interesting “foundation” for the collection they would put together over the following years…

DANIELE DAL COL has been learning from artists since 2003 and believes that the art system can be more loving. She is one of the directors at the Superfície gallery in São Paulo, and currently lives in Gothenburg, Sweden.