Magnificent Obsessions PHOTOS presents objects from a number of captivating personal collections of 14 post-war and contemporary artists. From popular collectibles through rare artefacts to natural history specimen, the objects are shown next to examples of the artists’ own works, drawing parallels between both and offering an intriguing glimpse into their lives, interests, compulsions and inspirational sources.

The artists/collectors are: Dr Lakra, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Edmund de Waal, Peter Blake, Andy Warhol, Sol LeWitt, Hanne Darboven, Damien Hirst, Danh Vo, Jim Shaw, Martin Parr, Pae White, Howard Hodgkin and Arman. The exhibition was curated by Lydia Yee and beautifully produced by Dyvik Kahlen Architects. It is accompanied by a series of interesting events and a lovely catalogue with the artists’ interviews and photos of their collections in situ.


Edmund De Waal is a London-based ceramicist and writer. After inheriting 264 netsuke – a miniature, hand-carved objects used as toggles for Japanese traditional kimono dresses – from his great uncle, he spent several years researching the history of the collection, resulting in a fascinating family memoir The Hare with Amber Eyes.

Danh Vo’s work often deals with the themes of private experience and collective history emerging from research, chance encounters and personal negotiations. His installation in Barbican is very much linked to these concepts as well as to a touching personal story. It shows the fascinating collection of cultural artefacts, Americana and kitsch assembled by artist Martin Wong and his mother throughout their lives. After seeing the collection of nearly 4.000 objects in San Francisco, Vo tried to find a museum that would display it. But it was only after he acquired the collection himself and presented it with a selection of Wong’s paintings, that it found a permanent home in the Walker Art Center of Minneapolis. The installation is titled IMUUR2 (formulation used by Wong on his business cards and stamps) and it is attributed to both Wong and Vo. It was awarded the 2012 Hugo Boss price.

Dr Lakra is a Mexican tattoo artist, whose delightfully eerie drawings and sculptures soon became hit also in the serious contemporary art circles. He is known for using found images and objects, such as dolls, medical illustrations, and clippings from vintage Mexican magazines in his work. Inevitably, he’s an avid collector of all kinds of ephemera, which he uses both as inspiration and as source material. In Barbican he shows his extensive collection of LP covers and several of his scrapbooks.

Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector runs in Barbican from 12 Feb-25 May 2015.

Blake  deWaal

Martin Wong Danh Vo

LakraHirst Hodgkin  Lewitt

DarbovenParr Shaw Sugimoto Warhol White