The art of collecting art

by Joshua T. Dies

So, wow, I wish I could make this review as exciting as I thought Michael K. Corbin’s book “Art in King Size Beds” was to read. And I’m referring to a book about collecting art. Not my usual idea of a page-turner, either. But what makes the 90-page volume such a great find is the author’s boundless enthusiasm. Michael Corbin loves art, and he wants to tell you why.

Everything about the book is inviting, from its slick, coffee-table friendly design to the fact that it’s only 90 pages. The text is read almost as an afterthought to viewing the featured pieces, but once you start reading, you find it difficult to stop. Corbin’s manner is so personable it feels like he’s my giddy best friend at an art opening.

Right off the bat, he gets things under way by assuring you that you don’t have to really know anything about art to enjoy art. His intended audience is the “everyman” who might feel like buying art is only for the well off or those with a degree in art history. One of my favorite quotes is located in a section entitled “The Absolute Yes”—“The soul already knows what it wants and needs. If a piece speaks to me, then it’s for me.”

The book could almost be located in the self-help section: the art of self-acceptance through art. Every section is so full of excitement and affirmation that you feel better about yourself if you’ve ever just enjoyed a painting.

My favorite part is the fact that Corbin showcases the art he’s writing about well. Nearly every page is filled with expansive reproductions of the author’s personal collection, inviting you to see what it is he looks for when he buys art. He also gives great tips and advice on the art of collecting art, including where to find, how to negotiate pricing, asking about commissioned and bucket load of other useful information.

He also includes a ton of anecdotes about his contact with the artists. One thing he returns to several times throughout is the encouragement to buy from living “striving” (not starving) artists. Personally, I love the concept of supporting the rich and diverse art community we have here in Nashville!

He makes a valid point early in comparing his love of art to collecting comic books or antique cars. Consequently you can read the whole thing as a celebration of our own concept of “art” whether it is action figures or beanbag animals.

This is a terrific introduction for anyone interested in art that doesn’t know where to begin. Michael Corbin is charming and funny, a complete delight to read. I was rereading passages out loud for days – and I rearranged all the art in my house. His personable language and obvious enthusiasm make this a great instruction manual for art enthusiasts and novices alike.

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