Financial educator Alvin Hall discusses art collecting with students

Mitchell Famulare, Arts Editor

As part of Professor Lorraine Cox’s class “The Business of Visual Art & Contemporary Entrepreneurship,” renowned financial educator, television and radio broadcaster, a bestselling author Alvin Hall visited to discuss his side passion of art collecting.

Titling his presentation “Collecting Art: Passion and Practicality,” Hall structured his talk around his favorite works of art he has collected over the years. With over 300 works of art in his collection and only stationing 29 in his New York City apartment, Hall elaborated on the modern-day market he has begun to find himself in over the course of his career.

Introduced to art through a photograph by Marvin Hyphermen, Hall began collecting photography that caught his eye. He stressed how it is not productive to embark on art collecting with a specific vision for what you want your collection to be like. One’s collection should be driven by passion and a sense of “lust” one feels towards a work.

Hall emphasized how one’s eyes must be educated, meaning one must look at art all the time in order to train themselves to see what they like in order to decipher constructive opinions on work. Hall ends his Friday work days at 1:00 p.m., spending the rest of the day exploring the galleries in Chelsea and Soho to do just this. When a student questioned how Union students can train their eye in an area that lacks the number of galleries that are found in the downtown areas of Manhattan he recommended looking at Artforum, Art21 and the podcast “On Collecting.”

Hall’s discussion was captivating with jokes and sly remarks coming from every angle. He described how most art work is placed and not chosen. Meaning galleries will place their artwork in private collections that will bring in curators which will eventually place the works in museum exhibitions. Galleries cultivate collectors and collectors cultivate galleries.

The art of collecting, however, is an incredibly expensive and exclusive experience. Art must be preserved, shipped, studied and must go through extensive legal processes. Hall changes the art in his apartment every six months calling for the walls to be spackled and painted again and again with the art having to be stored away safely.

This expensive process can also be incredibly rewarding. Hall described how the art world is constantly evolving. One artist could be a hit this month and a nobody the next. Hall once bought a work for $2,000 and sold it for a commission of $250,000. The person who bought it from Hall then sold the work for $1.7 million. Hall stated he once made a commission that was enough to renovate his whole apartment on Madison Avenue in New York City.

Hall’s artistic interests vary however he stated he only buys art from living artists. His collection consists of artists like Raymond Pettibon, Brad Kahlhammer, Titus Kaphar, Wardell Milan, Ellen Gallagher, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Pope L. and Annette Messager.

The art of collecting works requires diligence, determination and calls for one to always watch their back. Hall has gained much of the works he owns today by his lack of fear and his dynamic encounters with various artists and gallery owners.

The Bowdoin College alumnus elaborated how he could have retired quite some time ago; however, it was and still is his love for art that requires him to continue to bring in his income.

Alvin Hall’s inspiring talk demonstrated the art of communication and creativity. With confidence being the leading factor of his consistent success, he told students that when one finds their passion it will be obvious. While students laughed at his accounts of intense “lust” over works of art, he stated that this “lust” is passion.

Hall currently designs and teaches classes for financial service markets around the world.