We buy with our Heart and Feelings. About Collecting. Interview with Jeldrik Oorthuys

Interview  /  CarolinDenter   Collecting   Market
Published: 31.08.2020
Jeldrik Oorthuys Jeldrik Oorthuys
Carolin Denter
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Why do humans collect, and how does one come to dedicate oneself to a small field of art like contemporary jewellery? In our interview we talk to the Dutchman Jeldrik Oorthuiys, who unconsciously started his collection in the 1970s and kept collecting for more than 40 years.
What is your earliest memory of art, and what led you to start collecting it?
My parent's house was full of Balinese paintings, drawings and craftwork. In the early ’70s, a friend took me to Museum Booymans in Rotterdam for an exhibition of Salvador Dalí and end 70’s I bought Hockney by Hockney, my first artbook. In 1980 I became friends with Ton Berends, owner of Galerie Nouvelles Images in The Haque. He had, besides, a modern art gallery also a cellar with modern jewelry. That’s how I found out about modern art and art jewelry. He told me about Galerie RA in Amsterdam and I bought my first artjewel: earrings of Cathy Harris, who were very expensive for me at the time: fl.75 (EUR. 35). That year I also bought my first art piece: A print of Jeroen Henneman, in Nouvelles Images. In 1980 I started with collecting modern art and artjewelry.

How would you describe yourself as an art collector and why did you stop collecting recently?
After those first purchases, I bought more art and jewelry and also got presents from Ton. In 1985 I was asked for a documentary about 5 collectors of whom you don’t think they are art collectors. That was the moment I realize I was a collector. I continued buying art and jewelry and in 1994 I met my husband Loek. He knew nothing about art, but in no time we collect together. Before I collected non-figurative and minimal art. With Loek we bought a wider range of art. We buy with our heart and feelings. From some artists we bought quite a lot and of many others only 1 piece. We don’t stop collecting. This year we bought 2 sculptures. We are both pensioned now and have less money to spend. Also, our house is full and when we buy something, we want to give it a good place in the house. Jewelry is another story. I bought 1 earpiece of Robert Smit and bracelets of Paul Derrez and Ela Bauer.

What part of collecting did you love the most?
To get a piece and find a good place for it in the house. It’s like falling in love and get a relation. A lot in our case. We love some artists like Cy Twombly, Joan Miró and Richard Serra were it’s not possible to get work of them. But when it’s possible to get a print of them and having around us is fantastic.

Based on your experience, can you explain as to why people begin to collect art?
I think it’s difficult to explain. In my (our) case I bought more and more and then, together with my husband, we became collectors. Other people start really with the idea to collect. I knew somebody who only collected Dutch jewelers.

During your career as a collector, how important is it for you to meet the artists who created the artwork? Did you prefer to work with galleries or the artists themselves? Do you have a process in how you buy art?
We need to meet the artists. We like to know how and why they make a work of art. We became friends or know them well. Most of the works we bought, we bought in the galleries. What are the places we mostly discovered the work of the artists. So, it’s not a preference but the way we get most of our art. We don’t follow a certain procedure. We buy, if it’s possible, what we like.

  • Most of the works we bought, we bought in the galleries. What are the places we mostly discovered the work of the artists.

How many artworks do you own and where do you display your collection?
We have around 500 pieces of Art. Paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, ceramics and glasswork. We also have more than 500 pieces of jewelry. Jewelry is much more my cup of tea then Loek’s. The art is all over the house and outside some sculptures. For the jewelry we had a special vitrine build which contains 12 drawers.

Has digitalization changed the way you collect art?
No, we should make a list of our collection. We’re busy with finishing that. We bought some pieces on internet auctions.

The art market especially something like contemporary jewellery has a reputation for being a playground for the elite. What is your experience with this?
I know many people who are not elite but use a part of their income for jewelry or art. In my case, I worked for 15 years as a social worker and 20 years as a bartender. My husband worked for a bank with a regular income. Because I, and later we, buy art, we spend less money on other things. No expensive cars, diners, or clothes.

Where do you think the future of the art market is headed? What upcoming projects are you interested in?
I think the future of the art market is more on the internet. Sad, because I like to see and feel the pieces in real life. I like projects only where you can see and participate in reality.

  • I think the future of the art market is more on the internet. Sad, because I like to see and feel the pieces in real life.

What role does the collector play in the world of today ́s contemporary art? 
I think the collector has a big role in today's contemporary art. Collectors mostly start to buy from emerging artists. So then artists get the chance to grow and become, hopefully, famous.

How has your knowledge of art jewellery been developed and strengthened? Did you use advisors or choose works purely on your own?
My knowledge about art jewelry has been developed throughout the galleries. There I see new artists and there I get to know more. I choose purely on my feeling. I bought all kinds of jewelry. I have many necklaces, brooches and rings, but the last 10 years I only buy bracelets and ear jewelry. I like to wear what I buy and now that means mostly earpieces and bracelets.

About the Interviewee

Born 1953 in Jakarta,Indonesia. Back in Holland 1956 and lived in The Haque. After school I went to the silver school in Schoonhoven to become jewelry maker. I had no patience to make jewelry and stopped after ½ year. From 1979 I  studied for 4 years, next to my work for social worker and worked till 1994. I had to stop because I was diagnosed with HIV. Thanks to the new medication in 1997 things looked better and  I started as a bartender in 1999 in Amsterdam until  January 2020. This year we travelled for 3 months trough the USA.

About the author

Carolin Denter
 completed her training as Goldsmith at Master School for Craftsmen in Kaiserslautern in 2013. 2015 she made an Internship at Klimt02 in Barcelona. In 2017 she graduated as Bachelor of Fine Arts in Gemstone and Jewellery at the University of Applied Science Trier, Campus Idar-Oberstein. After her graduation, she worked as Assistance at Campus Idar-Oberstein in the Gemstone and Jewellery Departement till the end of 2019. Since 2020 she is Marketing & Forum Content Manager at Klimt02.