Photo Opportunity; Art's Tastemakers Are Turning to Photography to Give Their Collections Focus. Daisy Bridgewater Talks to Three Ladies Who Find Prints Charming

Article excerpt

Byline: DAISY BRIDGEWATER

MOLLIE DENT-BROCKLEHURST Director of the Gagosian Gallery, Heddon Street, W1 Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst, 37, is the sister of Henry who's married to model Lili Maltese.

She lives in a Georgian house in Mayfair with her filmmaker husband Duncan Ward and their children, Lucien, three, and Violet, nine months.

An outsider would consider Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst a pretty serious collector of photography - her Mayfair home contains a number of very important pieces. 'I think of myself as more of an enthusiast,' she insists.

'I am a contemporary art collector; photography is simply an incidental medium.' Mollie started collecting photography in her twenties because she loved the medium. 'But also because it is cheaper; I always wanted to collect, and photography is very accessible for the young collector.' After graduating from Brown University in America, Mollie moved to Manhattan to work for Sotheby's in the contemporary art department. She started working for America's most influential art dealer, Larry Gagosian, in 1997. She moved back to London from New York five years ago to open a small office for Gagosian. It has since become the city's largest privately owned gallery, showcasing contemporary art in all its guises, including photography.

'I am fascinated by the relationship between contemporary art and photography, and the toings and froings between the two,' she says. 'At the outset, photography claimed to own the reality and pushed the contemporary artists out of the picture. But today contemporary photography is simply joining in with contemporary art, rather than challenging it.' Mollie's aesthetic tastes have changed noticeably since she joined Gagosian.

'My personal collection of photographs used to be more traditional,' she says. 'I still have a number of black and white photographs by photographers such as Erwin Blumenfeld and Indian Magnum photographer Raghubir Singh which I love. I tend to move them around the house and mix them in with contemporary art. Old prints with their white, black and silver hues have an enduringly dreamy quality to them.' These days contemporary art predominates in her collection. 'But I'll always collect photography, I love it, but I want to look more towards contemporary art photography than the more traditional pieces of my youth.' Her stark, minimal interior would be the perfect backdrop. 'Today, for an artist to be working in photography says as much about the artist as it does about the image. The immediacy of the image is compelling, and with digital technology an artist can do whatever he wants with a photograph.' She intends to add to her collection in the future. 'But for now I have a young family so I have other expenses,' she says.

KAY HARTENSTEIN SAATCHI

Photographer and former curator of the Saatchi Gallery Kay Hartenstein Saatchi, 52, lives with her ten-year-old daughter Phoebe in a Pimlico corner house she bought two years ago. Her 11-year marriage to Charles Saatchi, during which time she help to curate over 30 exhibitions at the Saatchi Gallery, ended four years ago. Since then the American-born former homecoming queen has been developing her skills as a photographer from her studio in Chelsea.

After ten years of collecting on an industrial scale, Kay has decided to keep her personal photography collection rather more domestic. 'I think I got that acquisitive thing out of my system when we were running the Saatchi Gallery,' she says.

A giant baby figure by Ron Mueck peers up from the piano behind her. 'Now I collect quite differently. It is more of a personal, quiet thing. I collect pictures to live with, so if there is something that I really want I am prepared to wait. Good photography is too much of an investment not to get the one you really want.' Quite what she spends is closely guarded.

Kay has been quietly collecting photography since she was 'young and broke'. …