There's a nasty little secret that Mike failed to mention in his columns on collecting.
Bob Dales hinted at its existence when he commented, "I have no more wall space but can't help myself" with regards to the recent dye transfer print sale. The secret Mike didn't impart in his collecting columns is that Bob isn't unique, or even uncommon. He represents a universal truth:
Nobody has enough wall space. Anyone who is hemidemisemi-serious about acquiring art ends up owning more work than they can display. It doesn't matter if you're building a structured collection like Mike is trying to do or if you're just accumulating a motley (like me). Either way, I guarantee you'll end up with more art than you have wall space for.
It also doesn't matter how rich you are. This is a situation where your artistic eyes will always be bigger than your habitable stomach (to coin a somewhat disquieting metaphor). More income lets you buy a bigger residence with more wall space. Surprise, surprise, it also lets you buy more art; that trick never works. The problem with art is that there is guaranteed to be more art in the world that you like than you will ever be able to afford. It's an open-ended game. Even for the super-rich, who endow entire museums to hold their collections. That at least solves the problem of how to de-clutter their full-to-the-brim mansions, but with only rare exceptions, most of what's in those museum collections is not on display but in storage at any given moment.
...And the silver lining
This points to the huge silver lining that surrounds the nasty little secret. Museums rotate their collection, changing what's hanging on their walls. You can do the same thing. In fact, you should. Rotation isn't merely a necessity, it's a genuine feature. It will substantially improve the quality of your life.
Regularly changing the art on your walls is a great way to freshen up the environment in which you spend your time and make it feel like something new. Once you've amassed enough of a collection (or motley) to require rotating art to see it all, it's a lot cheaper and easier than new furniture, wallpaper, or paint, but it's just as effective.
When should you rotate your art? When the art you have hanging on your walls becomes invisible to you. When it's part of the decor and you don't even notice it anymore, it's time for change. Keep the handful of pieces that truly inspire you or have such deep significance for you that you can't bear to have them out of sight, even if you're not noticing that they are in sight. All the rest, put them in the closet, pull out a bunch of new pieces, redecorate those walls, and sit back and enjoy the experience.
You will be amazed. You will see the art (heck, the whole room) afresh.
Give it a try if you don't believe me.
You can take this one to the bank.Featured Comment by Martin Doonan: "Okay, here's a counterpoint for the peripatetic. I move a lot (just completing my seventh move in 13 years) so the walls rotate around the art, figuratively. Same art works helps make it feel like home. Fortunately the new place has a lot of wall space. Maybe the trick would be for me to have a rotating portion and a few selected 'home' pieces."