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  • Netsuke from the collection of Edmund de Waal. Photo by Justin Piperger

Magnificent Obsessions

The Barbican puts the collections of contemporary artists on public show

Edmund de Waal made famous his collection of small Japanese sculptures, known as netsuke, with his best-selling family memoir The Hare With Amber Eyes. This collection goes on public show, alongside many less well-known examples, in the Barbican’s show Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector. Some are no surprise – Andy Warhol’s kitsch cookie-jars, Damien Hirst’s taxidermy – but there’s plenty that’s unexpected here too. Who would guess that photographer Martin Parr collects Soviet space dog memorabilia?

Magnificent Obsessions presents the collections of such post-war and contemporary artists as Peter Blake, Howard Hodgkin and Sol LeWitt, as well as Warhol, Hirst and de Waal. More interestingly perhaps, objects will be installed in accordance with the artists’ own display techniques, so the public will see not only the artists’ particular habits in hoarding – some collections number in the thousands – but also their curation of their own beloved belongings.

Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector is at the Barbican Art Gallery from 12 February to 25 May


Cookie jars formerly in the collection of Andy Warhol. Image courtesy the Movado Group