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Curator & Collector


Delaire Graff Art Collection: was Renoir the catalyst?

Laurence Graff purchased his first work in the 70s. Today, Delaire Graff in the Cape Winelands, has one of the most interesting collections of contemporary African art. What was the catalyst?

What is the first artwork you ever purchased and do you still own it?
The first piece I bought at auction was a small Renoir of a child’s face in the 1970s. My wife was horrified when I brought it home and wouldn’t hang it on the wall, as she was worried about how valuable it was. It spent far too many months in the safe!

Which artwork in the Delaire Graff collection excited you the most when you purchased it?
There are many iconic pieces, but one of the most interesting is the 'Chinese Girl' by Tretchikoff.  This was one of the first pieces of art that I ever become aware of as a young boy, as prints of it were prolific throughout the 1950-1970s. So when it came up for auction I couldn’t miss the opportunity of acquiring it.

What moves you to purchase a particular piece – the potential investment, or is it more emotional?
I only ever purchase pieces that resonate with me and have significance to me in some way.

When you buy a work do you always know where it is going to be placed?
I sometimes have an idea when I buy where I would like to place a piece, but it is not the deciding factor by any means.

Is it a bit of a wrench ‘giving’ certain artworks to the estate rather than in your own home?
I always enjoy adding to the Delaire art collection, as each new piece brings its own story and so the evolution continues.

Any advice for someone who is starting to collect art?
Find what you love, read, research and read some more … then buy.

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