I bet this title made you suspect I was going to advise dusting and polishing your art collection this week, correct? (and BTW, never spray glass cleaner onto the glass of your art, spray a soft cloth and then polish, otherwise you run the risk of the liquid dripping and leaching onto the matting...ick) Wrong! I know you have already done that task, especially the tops of those dust-collecting frames.
No, I am thinking about culling your art, or ridding yourself of pieces that no longer sing to you.
There's a hot little book making the rounds right now titled: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. All kinds of testimonies are circulating about the method and I admit it is a motivating book. I got 2/3 through and ran out of energy, but have promised self to finish. If you want the condensed version check out this great review Houzz here.
Anyhoo, I was wondering if the same method could be applied to artwork that just doesn't measure up as when purchased. Objects produced by hands somehow carry a sacred spirit about them and just should not be tossed aside. But really, why not? Some pieces are ephemeral in the sense that the joy was in creating, not selling or buying. When that joy has been spent why not free up space by getting rid of it?
"Investment pieces" (i.e. you paid a bundle, very large work or you were hoping to resell) are different issues.
Our tastes change. Admit it. Something you bought in your twenties does not hold the same cache for you now (unless infused with sentiment). But what to do with a piece that is still sound in every other way?
Donate it. I have contacted several places, depending on the piece, about accepting art to hang in their buildings. Consider a local women's shelter, a children's home, or a nursing home. I cringe when I see the poster art these places usually hang...shouldn't these residents also have the pleasure of "real art?" Non-profit offices could use a bit of sprucing up as can certain church spaces and hallways. Some of these places will give you a receipt for the dollar amount you originally paid.
art I received at no cost from Peter Seibt
Gift it. I have a few pieces purchased long ago on my 'don't want' pile that others have expressed interest in. Be my guest. It's win-win and the art breathes more joy. (I've often thought of having a "trade" space during art workshops.) Your children may (mostly may not!) be interested in your cast-off pieces. Does your doctors office need an uplift? Waiting rooms are notorious for bad art. The dentist? Just explain that you are down-sizing, not that the piece is undesired.
happy recipients of a table I painted
So as my collection grows, my opinion on "owning for life" changes. I need space for the pleasure of collecting, and I want to reflect my ever-morphing tastes. As the author of the "Tidying Up.." book suggests: Thank the piece for the pleasure it once provided, bow to its spirit and let it go. What you gain is space for new joy.