#ListeAsks Alexander Köser, Collector, Cologne

Alexander Köser, Credit: Albrecht Fuchs
Alexander Köser, Credit: Albrecht Fuchs

As you won’t be in Basel this June, what are you doing instead?
We will be living our “new normal”: working from home and enjoying new art mainly through the screen. 

What is something that you never thought would happen but that has now happened as a result of the lockdown?
It has given us the unexpected opportunity to kind of realign ourselves to live in a more conscious way, as lots of the “noise” from our “old normal” has disappeared. We’ve been spending our free time with family (we have three small children), enjoyed our home and reconnecting with nature and friends. It has brought calm and contentment, which I didn’t see coming.

In what ways has the current state of uncertainty and unpredictability changed your attitude towards collecting?
Collecting entails living and engaging with artworks as well as the artists, gallerists, curators and other people of the artworld—something which is more evident nowadays than ever. Art provides a means of communication, of expressing creativity, of exchanging opinions and ultimately, a means of freedom. Recent events around the world show us that freedom and the right to express yourself always need support. Hence, our intent of supporting and collecting internationally has only been strengthened.

What is one of the most inspiring initiatives or projects by an artist, institution or gallery you’ve come across since the outbreak of Covid-19?
The collective drive to support each other just because it’s the right thing to do is most inspiring to me. As far as new outlets go, I was especially impressed by Darren Bader’s Inventory, an artist-initiated sales platform for sometimes overlooked works; Collab, a private initiative where some younger galleries are offering works together and sharing the profits; and of course David Zwirner’s Platform, a viewing room dedicated to 12 young galleries that can each show a short profile and two works of one artist. Platform was so successful they made numerous versions for different cities.

How can younger and less established galleries that are representing emerging and yet-to-be-discovered artists approach you as collector in a time of online-only exhibitions, fairs, etc.?
Young galleries and emerging artists are essential for art fairs and media, and the modes of discovery haven’t changed much recently. Networking and collaborating with others outside the usual scope will greatly help younger galleries. Right now, I see an opportunity for young galleries in the rapid advancements in technology for presenting art online. The ground for young and established galleries will soon be levelled in terms of presentation, so the discussion can focus on the art again.

Have you discovered any new artist during the lockdown? 
In the past months David Zwirner’s Platform project as well as Instagram research have led me to some artists and galleries in North and South America I wasn’t as familiar with, and this in turn led to a few conversations. Through the guys at High Art in Paris I found Hun Kyu Kim, who gives painting a whole new edge. Besides that, I also found myself drawn to buy from some long-time artist and gallerist friends. 

Can you tell us about the very first artwork you purchased at Liste?
Unfortunately, my documentation does not provide that answer, but every year the fair gets me excited to discover something new like it was my first time. Liste often feels like a treasure hunt due to the space constraints and unique architecture. Thinking of past Liste purchases, the first things that come to mind are smaller, more intimate works that resonate with such spaces: a painting by Cheyenne Julien or a sculpture by Andrea Crespo.

Janiva Ellis, Envoy Bomb-like, 2017, Oil on Canvas, bought at Liste and photographed now hanging at our house, Arcadia Missa, London
Janiva Ellis, Envoy Bomb-like, 2017, Oil on Canvas, bought at Liste and photographed now hanging at our house, Arcadia Missa, London