The New York Times‘ Michael Kimmelman wrote an excellent article about Miuccia Prada as art patron. Prada has established a foundation that annually commissions two large-scale, ambitious works from great contemporary artists, such as John Baldessari and Nathalie Djurberg, who would not normally have the money or opportunity to create such works. Rather than simply buying up art to amass a collection of trophy works, which she could easily do, Prada encourages artists to produce new art. As collectors on a much smaller scale, we may not have the money to become patrons at this level, but I think we have an obligation to support artists beyond simply buying art. We can become part of the creative process by thinking of small creative ways to provide artists with the resources they need to create.

I like what Kimmelman writes about fashion in art too.

She also used to like to say that fashion is fun but frivolous, and fundamentally commercial, while contemporary art is serious and intellectual. It’s the mind-set of the 1968 generation: well-to-do, educated Europeans proving their modernity by prizing innovative art but disdaining fashion, notwithstanding that they were, and still are, as clothes-obsessed as anyone.

You might argue that Prada has the current art-fashion equation exactly the wrong way around. In any case, her stance (and who can say just how uncalculating it is?) has reinforced her status as a highbrow designer and a fashionable patron, playing to fashion’s endemic insecurity and to the art world’s eternal yearning for fashionability. As the New Yorker writer Michael Specter once phrased it, the clothes, shoes and handbags promise people “a better, hipper version of themselves,” which, for many of today’s Prada-clad art collectors, is the promise of acceptance in the art world, where Prada and her husband, Patrizio Bertelli, are like royalty.