Anita Zabludowicz: "Collecting is about choosing the right work." | Story of the Collection

About Zabludowicz Collection

together they founded the Zabludowicz Collection

to collect international emerging contemporary art and support their philanthropic endeavours

Zabludowicz Collection is founded on a commitment to producing a vibrant and sustainable ecology for art. It achieves this through a growing archive of contemporary art and is dedicated to the conservation and production of new work by artists from the earliest stages of their careers. The Collection runs an independent UK charity and an international programme of exhibitions, events, residencies and commissions across in the UK, USA and Finland. The exhibitions are free and open to all.

Anita Zabludowicz was born in Newcastle and now lives in London with her husband, Poju, and their four children. Anita studied Fine Art & History of Art in Newcastle's College of Arts & Technology and subsequently spent ten years working as a project manager in interior architecture before going back to study Modern Art & Auctioneering at Christies.


Anita Zabludowicz

Photo: David Bebber

Artwork Credit: Kelly Walker, Untitled, 2009 (detail)

Zabludowicz Collection. Courtesy to the artist 

Poju Zabludowicz was born in 1953 in Helsinki, Finland where he was schooled. He later graduated with a degree in Economics and Political Science from Tel Aviv University. Poju has led the global equity firm Tamares since 1990.

Poju and Anita support a number of philanthropic activities and together they founded the Zabludowicz Collection in the early 1990s to collect international emerging contemporary art and support their ongoing philanthropic endeavors. In 2007 they founded a UK charity and opened an exhibition space in the former Methodist Chapel at 176 Prince of Wales Road, in order to facilitate projects with artists and curators both in the UK and overseas.

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Athena Papadopoulos, installation view Zabludowicz Collection, London, 2015

Photo: Tim Bowditch

Early Collections

the foundation of the collection 

with art photography and modern British art

Before I started collecting, I started studying art. Once I went for an art tour in New York. And I saw a show called ‘High and Low: Modern Art and Popular Culture’ (1990-1991) at MoMA. For the first time in my life, I saw the artists such as Claes Oldenburg, Jeff Koons, and Roy Lichtenstein. It was an amazing thing to see these artists. I didn't know anything about pop art or contemporary art. It was just full of colors and imagination. I felt that my soul was on fire when I saw that show.

Then the tour took us to collectors’ homes and I saw some of these artists in people's homes. I realized that people were collecting their works. Then I met a woman who became my best friend. I asked her: ‘What do you do?' And she said to me: ‘I am an art collector.' And I thought I'd like to be an art collector. It was as simple as that, really. I didn't imagine it would go this far that I would be an institutional art collector. And I said to her, ‘oh that's good. I'd like to be one of those.' and I told my husband: ‘I would like to start collecting art.' My husband said: ‘Before you collect art, you have to go and study for a few years.' So that's what I did. I went to study history of art. I went to as many lectures as I could on contemporary and modern history of art. I also went to one-year auction course at the Christie's. That was really interesting and I looked at so much art, I looked and looked.

I came out of it, wanting to collect Modern British Art. Because I thought I'd like to have works by Ben Nicholson, and Lucian Freud, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, Francis Bacon. So that's where I started. Then I went to Sotheby’s to bid for my first work, which is a Ben Nicholson. I came really early and put an asentee bid in just in case. Then I came back and was in the room and I think I managed to bid against myself by accident because I forgot to cancel the earlier bid! I got the work, but I always imagine that I paid a little bit more than I should have for it. But I was very excited. That painting is always hung in our living room, unless it is on loan.

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Ben Nicholson, Box And Cox, 1947.

Photo: Thierry Bal 

And then my husband made friends with another collector, an incredible connoisseur called Edward Lee. He encouraged us to look at Matthew Barney’s work. So suddenly we got from Modern British to contemporary art photography, performance and film. We moved into art photography very quickly, and that really was the foundation of the collection: art photography and modern British art.

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Heather Phillipson 

Through the flesh tone scenario the imported combi-boudoir

 2013, installation view, Zabludowicz Collection, London

Photo: Tim Bowditch

Most Daring of the Collection

it was a different kind of art form 

and I just could not leave it

One of the most daring thing we did was...I think there are two works that came to my mind. One was an artist called Glenn Brown. He has the most beautiful paintings you ever seen. The way he paints is so meticulous. He looks at art history and he's just so romantic and there are a lot of fantasy in his work. I really wanted to acquire his work, and I got the opportunity, but the work was very expensive at that time, and I said to my husband: ‘Poju look, just do it. Just trust me on this and do it. You won't regret it.’ These days it's probably very cheap compared to where his market is now. But I mean - it still was very expensive.

Another moment was once in Art Basel Miami and Marianne Boesky Gallery was showing a huge Yoshitomo Nara dog. I just fell in love with it. Of course, it was not like nowadays - in those days, there was no Kaws, Nara and Murakami Takashi were just starting out. People didn't collect this kind of ‘naïve’ form of art. They only looked at Jean Dubuffet and things that were little bit more ‘abstract’. It was a different kind of art form and I just could not leave that Nara! We lived with this big huge dog that we love and it's almost like a pet. It's a happy, naughty, and ‘something else’ dog in our life. We keep it in Finland now. We love living with it.

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Yoshitomo Nara, Your Dog, 2002

Installation view

When We Build, Let Us Think That We Build Forever

2007 at Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead

Photo: Colin Davidson

Collecting is a practice

one never has full access

I mean the list is probably just as long as what we have collected! For many different reasons. One of the most obvious reasons we cannot have works is financial. But there’s all sort of reasons: collecting art is difficult, being in our collection is also difficult. Getting access to the best art in the world is a full time occupation. One never has full access. You can only buy what you are offered.

Some galleries don't understand what the collectors are doing. They don't understand that it is a practice. They are more about selling you the art, but not actually understanding that the collectors are trying to create a story. Sometimes they don't help you and they can create a hole in your collection. But be honest, any museum in the world you go to, there're many holes in their collection too.

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Donna Huanca, SCAR CYMBALS, 2016

performance view at Zabludowicz Collection, London

Photo: Thierry Bal

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performance view, Zabludowicz Collection, London, 2016

Photo: Thierry Bal

Future Plans

we've created the VR collection in the collection

which has been really interesting and we have enjoyed doing that

The future plans are very exciting. Because of COVID-19 our exhibition spaces and offices are closed for the time being but we are hoping everything will happen and are seeing everything as postponed rather than canceled at the moment. The first thing we did when we closed was call an artist we adore called Mark Tichner and ask him to make us a poster for our front window. Little did we know that he was just about to launch a nationwide poster campaign with Jack Arts and Diabolical who put art on billboards around the country, but he sent us this brilliant work: Please Believe That These Days Will Pass (2020). A brilliant sentiment.

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Mark Titchner, Please Believe These Days Will Pass, 2020

 Courtesy the artist

Poster installed in the currently closed Zabludowicz 

Collection gallery window whilstthe gallery is 

temporarily closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic

Photo: David Bebber

During corona, we continued our ‘Families Creates’ Saturday sessions, which is where we get kids and their carers together to do practical art workshops inspired by art work from our collection. These are all on our website now and are practical and fun resources for families to make art with. And every day, at 5.30 UK time, 12.30 Eastern time I've been broadcasting on Instagram Live to a different collector who has taken me around their home and collection, that has been really exciting and fun.

We are being patient and focusing on making the best of the time but we very much hope to be back on schedule in October and reopen with American multi-media artist Trulee Hall in her first institutional solo show in Europe EVER! She makes films that are shown as installations, something we have become known for showing and is just beyond spectacular. Just before the coronavirus really hit the UK managed to produce and perform an incredible opera entitled Tongues Duel the Corn Whores, an Opera, which we commissioned as part of a live art season - it was such a spectacular performance. You wouldn't have thought that coronavirus was around because the place is absolutely packed. None of us really realized the severity and thought it was another few weeks away. It was a camp and excessive performance and seems surreal now but we were all so happy to be wrapped in her success. And we're looking forward to welcoming her back in October. We're in talk with the two artists I can't mention, but we hope that we will be showing them next year as well. It is a really exciting thing showing art to the public and often we show people for the first time in the UK.

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Trulee Hall, Tongues Duel the Corn Whores, an Opera

performance at Zabludowicz Collection, London, 2020.

CONTENT - Mike Massaro

Then we have our incredible ‘Invites’ program. We introduced artists who are unrepresented by a commercial gallery, giving them a public platform. And every month we show a different artist, which is very exciting and each individual is so fabulous. The upcoming ‘Invites’ exhibitions we hope to do this year are by Frances Drayson and another artist that goes by the name of ‘Tenant of Culture’. Both looking at consumerism and the body in different ways.

We have also been at the forefront of exhibiting Art and Virtual Reality in the UK in our dedicated ‘360: Virtual Reality Room’. Coming up this year we hope to show Melodie Mousset’s interactive voice controlled VR. We love our VR program, we started it in 2015, when we commissioned Jon Rafman’s first VR. We are looking forward to seeing where AR, XR and now AI goes from here. It's really developing nicely and the artists are embracing but also investigating these new technologies. This is definitely one of the ways that the collection is going to develop. We have a big spring show, but we haven't announced that it. We are just putting up together at the moment.

In the new year we always start with two wonderful projects: ‘Testing Ground’ and ‘Master Class’. ‘Testing Ground’ is a collaboration with MA curatorial programmes in London where the student curators make an exhibition with our collection. It has been going for over a decade now and has always been a great success. It's lovely to see your collection being scrutinized by some future great curators. ‘Master Class’, which is a professional development opportunity for artist where we invite established artists to give a public lecture and then to teach to a select group of emerging artists from around the UK. This year Antony Gormley and Judith Bernstein took part. They gave fantastic lectures, and then they work with the ‘students’ via tutorials and workshops, helping and sharing their experiences. It's incredible, everybody gets something out of it. Such a great education course.

Tips for New Collectors

it's about choosing the RIGHT work

then being able to be careful of what you are looking for and what you choose

1. Edition - a good way to start

If you're a young collector, there are so many ways you can build your own collection. We, and many other institutions make limited edition art works such as prints and sculptures, as well as handmade clothing and objects. For me, when young people get married, I always give them editions.

2. The charm of moving image

We also have supported and collected moving image editions, which are very virtual. I set up Daata Editions with David Gryn. Daata Editions is an online commissioning and selling platform for contemporary artists working with digital media, where you can find some great moving image works from lesser known artists. Obviously, there are more known artists for great prices. And that's also an amazing way to collect art. I myself am a big collector of moving image. We've been collecting moving image since the nineties and it's a very integral part of our collection. We are very dedicated to it, and it has been wonderful. The biggest advantage of collecting moving images is there's no physical storage. Besides, one of the big pluses of collecting moving images is now the flat screen is so friendly now. You can show artwork so easily on your flat screen and they look fun, and you can dedicate one flat screen for your work, and it looks so wonderful. Daata are just about to launch a commercial platform for other galleries to show and sell moving image works online. As you know it’s a time of change for commercial galleries so new avenues have to open up and be explored.

3. Going slowly by supporting young art

The way to start collecting is by going slowly. If you are a young collector and you have limited funds - obviously we all have limited funds - you can go to find young galleries and support the young art. You can start take artworks that are even less than 300 dollars.

4. Choosing the right work: the work you love

One collector that I have visited via Instagram Live was the inspiring Marcelle Joseph. She didn't pay for more than 7,500 pounds for one work. Still she has the most incredible and amazing works in the house. It's about choosing the right work, then being able to be careful of what you are looking for and what you choose. There are artist (market) prices. But the good thing about buying what you love when you are a young collector is that you only love it and you don't get sick of it. It doesn't matter about the market - it comes later. If you look at the market, then your collection won't have the soul of which the collector wanting to have in their collection. It's about collecting art with your heart as well as with your head. It's an amazing experience. Everything that we collected, we always love it forever, we cherish it, and we look after it.