Cookie jars collected by Andy Warhol, Barbican Exhibition

Magnificent Obsessions, at the Barbican

I have to confess that my primary reason to visit this new show at The Barbican was the rare chance to see Edmund de Waal’s netsuke collection that was captured in his incredible book The Hare with Amber Eyes. The opportunity to see these immaculately carved miniature figures was just too good to pass up. And while the netsuke did not disappoint, this exhibition of personal collections of 15 contemporary artists, was a great deal of fun to explore. Ranging from kitschy memorabilia to rare artefacts, it gives fascinating insight into the mind and the inspirations of each artist-collector. The concept is similar to Martino Gamper’s excellent Design is a State of Mind exhibition at the Serpentine last year, but what sets it apart is that one work by each artist sits alongside his or her collections. You can imagine exactly why Andy Warhol had a preoccupation to the childhood nostalgia of vintage cookie jars or what made the photographer Martin Parr obsessively amass a collection of postcards from around the world. Some are more unexpected, like Sol Le Witt’s Japanese woodblock prints and modernist photography, which I particularly loved seeing as he is one of my favourite artists. Ultimately, it’s interesting to see which collections had me lingering longer, stopping and looking at every last detail. In that way, I think the exhibition sheds light on its visitors as much as its subjects.

Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector. Until 25 May, Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS