The Art of Acquisition

Veteran collectors will tell you that the process of finding pieces to round out the collection, whatever that collection may be, is perhaps the greatest thrill of the whole business. Of course, showing off the collection to an appreciative audience also ranks way up there on the thrill-o-meter. With that in mind, there should be a great deal of happy people in town this weekend, as the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (3750 Washington Boulevard; www.contemporarystl.org) opens two connected shows, Contemporary Masterworks: Saint Louis Collects and The Collectibles.

The former is a carefully culled selection of the finest pieces of contemporary art from St. Louis' finest collections. Works by Matthew Barney, Tom Friedman, Vik Muniz and our own Tom Huck demonstrate the breadth and depth of work that hangs in homes throughout the metro area.

Of course, a great deal of the people who flood the Contemporary on Friday, April 7, for the 7-to-9-p.m. public opening won't be able to afford a Barney. This is where The Collectibles steps up: A large sampling of the high-end art toys that established artists produce for the mass market, Collectibles demonstrates that the bridge between being a fan of pop culture and Pop Art is merely a good eye. The wide range of action figures, skateboards, lamps and T-shirts produced by companies such as Kidrobot, Art Metropole and Printed Matter Inc. prove that affordable art is within everyone's grasp.

Vik Muniz, a Brazilian artist with pieces displayed in both shows (After Richter, his grouped-Pantone-sample-square re-creation of Gerhard Richter's painting Betty, hangs in Contemporary Masterworks, and a quartet of his limited-edition placemats are in The Collectibles) discusses the work he does in both realms in a free talk at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 8. Preceding Muniz's lecture is a celebratory brunch — sort of a "second opening" for the shows — from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Brunch costs $10 to $25, and you can reserve your space by calling 314-535-4660. The joint shows remain up through Sunday, June 11.
April 7-June 11

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