Art on a budget

According to David Glassman, owning the likes of a Warhol or Landau is not out of reach for the everyday collector.

David Glassman's home (photo credit: Courtesy)
David Glassman's home
(photo credit: Courtesy)

David Glassman left the world of hi-tech to indulge his passion for art. He is something of an expert on being able to own and enjoy works by famous artists without actually having any money, or very little of it.

In the small Tel Aviv apartment he shares with his wife, Hadas, a lawyer, and two young children, he has works by Andy Warhol and Keith Haring as well as those of famous Israeli artists like Lea Nikel, Sigalit Landau and Aram Gershuni.
He has lectured on the subject and is happy to share the secret with the world at large. His talk “Art Collecting on a Budget” is always popular and draws a crowd and he has some useful ideas which anyone can put into practice. He considers his collection as a variation on Herzl’s famous dictum that “if you will it, it is no dream.”
The apartment, whose walls are hung with his treasures, is situated in a building which is in itself a historic relic. Built in the 1920s on Balfour Street, it typifies the eclectic style of building which preceded the Bauhaus White City construction of the 1930s. Ornate facades and decorative wrought-iron balconies soften the concrete outer shell of the three story building. The Glassman apartment however, was added at the back in the ’50s, and does not have these historic features. But the wealth of collected art makes up for this deficiency.
Glassman came to Israel from South Africa in 1970 as a small boy. His parents were professional people who surrounded themselves with books and art so he grew up appreciating them and needing them in his life too. Fifteen years ago he and Hadas moved into the small, three room apartment and over the years it has become the repository of thousands of books but, more importantly, some truly exceptional art.
He describes himself as a house husband, responsible for the day-to-day running of the home. That also involves dusting the paintings and sculptures which he began collecting as a young man 30 years ago.
“I’ve developed a method to purchase at low prices,” he says. “And because the apartment is small, what I buy fits in well.
Smaller art is always cheaper; many works are on paper rather than canvas, which also makes them less costly. I also have many photographs.”
Another way is to buy works of up-andcoming artists who are not well-known.
“You can’t really know which artists are going to succeed – it’s a bit like knowing which numbers are going to win the lottery,” he says. “You should buy art you enjoy and not worry if it’s going to be valuable or not.”
On the wall going out to the balcony are works by Ariel Asseo and Daniel Enkaoua, both acclaimed Israeli realism artists. The portrait of Kate Moss on the bookshelves is a limited-edition record cover by Damien Hirst. Also by him is the balloon in a Perspex box, on one of the shelves, a signed work. The two wooden cranes on an occasional table are by Tsibi Geva, and the painted bronze head on a table is by Uri Katzenstein.
All the nudes in his collection have found their home in the bedroom, including a Nan Goldin photo and a Michael Druks painting. The kitchen has an Aaron Gershuni oil on paper.
The living room, looking out over the rooftops of Tel Aviv is dominated by two enormous speakers.
“I’m a hi-fi fan,” says Glassman. When he acquired them, his wife said “it’s them or me,” but seems to have come to terms with them.
They also come in useful as a display stand for his sculptures – a Sigalit Landau piece is perched on the left hand one.
The telescope is evidence of his interest in star-gazing. And several of the pieces of furniture around testify to his love of mid-century art and design.
There’s a Charles and Ray Eames rocking chair in the sitting room and a Harry Bertoia metal mesh bird chair in another room.
Every so often, the Glassmans open their home to the public – like the lords of the manor in the Stately Homes of England – and groups come to enjoy the art collection and marvel at the extraordinary collection of famous and gifted artists crammed into the small apartment.
“I think everyone enjoys being in aesthetic surroundings,” he says.