Back in 1985, a a Junior in Design at Cornell University I had a professor, Ronald Beckman, who had a greater impact on my life than he will ever know. In a few small sentences he made a profound impact and started a process that continues to this day. He said…
“Your most important asset is your library. Start building it now and it will serve you well as you move forward in your career.”
With that little push began a lifetime of collecting. My first purchase was, The Work of Atget, Vol.1, Old France for $40. It now easily sells for between $175 and $200 on Auction.
Over the last 25 years I have continued to build my library and it now it is valued at over $80,000. Regardless of its value (which I only know for insurance purposes) I would never part with any part of it. It is filled with gems like Henri Cartier Bresson’s The Decisive Moment to my signed copy of Richard Avedon’s Photographs 1947-1977 to my also signed copy of Robert Mapplethorpe’s, Certain People: A Book of Portraits, to newer books like Gilbert & George: The Complete Pictures, 1971–2005.
One of my favorites is a lesser known book by Ralph Steiner, In Pursuit of Clouds which made me look at clouds in a whole new way. At this point in time, my collecting has turned more to Architecture than Photography and now books like 10x10_2 100 Architects 10 Critics, The Phaidon Atlas of Contemporary World Architecture, as well as a copy of Masters of World Architecture published in 1960, handed down to me by my father .
Why do I have these books, as an asset? No. They are there to inspire, to provide perspective and context.
We do not exist in a vacuum. Art has always built upon art and it is important to know your past, if you are to create your future.
So, there is no better time to start building your library and I hope you too look back 25 years down the line and are thankful for that which you have.
All the Best,