Courtesy Daisuke Miyatsu. Photo: Asakai

11 November 2019

In collaboration with Ocula Magazine, we are pleased to share this conversation between former collector-in-residence Daisuke Miyatsu and our associate curator for our Collecting as Practice thematic programme Rose Lejeune.

Japanese collector Daisuke Miyatsu has merged his life with a passion for collecting art perhaps more than any other collector today. Known as the ‘salaryman collector’, Miyatsu started his collecting journey as a surprisingly typical office worker with a limited budget for art, originally working in advertising and supplementing his salary as a nighttime receptionist at hotels to help develop his collection. In over 25 years, he has amassed an enviable international art collection that includes Yayoi Kusama and Olafur Eliasson, and many new media artists, such as Yang Fudong, Yuan Goang-Ming, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Ming Wong, and Ade Darmawan.

Designed by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Miyatsu’s home is a work of art in its own right, containing a Japanese ink painted sliding door by Yoshitomo Nara, a full-length mirror by Yayoi Kusama, wallpaper by Jung Yeondoo, and more. More radically, he has started inviting artists to use his body as their canvas by designing tattoos for him, including Keiichi Tanamai, Ryan Gander, Djordje Ozbolt, and Daido Moriyama, with the Estate of Felix Gonzalez-Torres soon to offer a design.

Gaining an international reputation as a collector both for his modest means and for a collecting style that harks back to an old-fashioned and intimate approach, Miyatsu’s collection has been exhibited in Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, the Daelim Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul, the Taipei Museum of Contemporary Art, and Busan Exhibition & Convention Center. Recent exhibitions of Miyatsu’s collection include SYNCHRONICITY – Daisuke Miyatsu Collection x Kasama Nichido Museum of Art Blending the quintessence of modern and contemporary art at Kasama Nichido Museum of Art (23 March–19 May 2019), which showcased works by Yang Fudong, Tawan Wattuya, and Yuan Goang-Ming, among others.

Miyatsu has recently developed a more professional interest in art, becoming a professor at Yokohama College of Art and Design in 2017—where he teaches Contemporary Economics, analysing art phenomena from a business point of view, Career Designing for Creators, and Global Communication Workshop—and is also a visiting professor at Kyoto University of Art and Design. With an interest in developing a collecting culture in Japan that is not just for the super-rich, Miyatsu is also the author of several books in Japanese, including Let’s Buy Contemporary Art (published in 2010 as part of the Shinsho de Shûeisha collection and available in traditional Chinese, Taiwanese, and Korean languages); The Age of Art x Technology – Revolutionary changes in a Society brought about by the Creative Business, published in 2017; and Contemporary Art Economics, most recently published in 2014 by Kobunsha.

In 2017, Miyatsu embarked on a collector residency at Delfina Foundation as part of Collecting as Practice — a thematic programme curated by Rose Lejeune that explored urgent questions around the philosophy, psychology, and politics of collecting. During his time in London, Miyatsu began a conversation that reflects on the development of his collection over time, the changing art world, and his radically intimate new works.

Rose Lejeune: You’ve been collecting since the mid-1990s, fairly early in your career as a young professional working in advertising. What were the first works that you bought, and where did you see them? How did you fund your collecting in the early days?

Daisuke Miyatsu: Yayoi Kusama has been my idol since I saw her ‘Infinity Nets’ series at the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo around 1994, when I was still a student studying business. Up until then, I had always loved art and frequently visited museums, but she was something else, just amazing—her work was so totally different from anything else showing in Japan at that time. The most impressive thing for me was when I stood in front of her work, I couldn’t tell whether I was somehow inside the painting, or standing outside of it, looking at it. That was my first experience of something that truly moved me and stayed with me.

About seven or eight years later, as my career developed a little, I decided to buy myself a present. At that time, my friends were also moving into better paid jobs and were buying themselves cars, or Rolex watches. Instead of something like that, I decided I wanted to buy an artwork by Kusama. I called all seven museums in Japan that have her works in their permanent collections and finally, one gave me the details of her gallery in Tokyo, who I called and they showed me some small works that I could buy with my budget. I selected the one I liked the most that I could afford, which was one of her famous ‘dot’ paintings from 1953—it was in all honesty more expensive than I had expected! I thought I was going to pay with my summer bonus but in the end, I needed bonuses from both the summer and the winter to afford the work.

Continue reading the interview on Ocula here.

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