Top art collectors each reveal a work they looked at differently at home – check them out here

As galleries around the world begin to slowly reopen, we’re highlighting individual exhibitions – online and IRL – that deserve your attention.

Collect Wisely: The Exhibition
Online at Sean Kelly, New York

What the gallery says: “In this interregnum, we have paused to reflect and reflect more intensely not only on what we value, but also on our own core values. With the closure of galleries, museums, cultural, performing and arts institutions visuals, we firmly believe that art will continue to inspire and sustain us, perhaps now more than ever.

To reflect and deepen this conviction, we turned to the collectors presented in the [Collect Wisely] podcast and asked them how recent conditions have affected their current thinking about art. In particular, is there a work of art in their own collection that they have deeply contemplated in this time of self-isolation and quarantine? Or is there a certain work in their collection through which they have discovered a new meaning, or rediscovered a passion, given the difficult and unfamiliar circumstances in which we find ourselves? We hope this will encourage and inspire the entire art world community.

Why it’s worth a look: High-flying collectors rarely open their doors to let in hoi polloi. But with this virtual exhibit, not only can we see top-notch artwork in situ, but the collectors who have purchased it describe what led them to each individual piece.

When Sean Kelly launched his “Collect Wisely” initiative in 2018, the world was very different: the art market was at its peak and galleries were opening up new spaces right and left. The goal of the “Collect Wisely” podcast, which brought Kelly into conversation with collectors, was to offer insight into the practice of buying art for love, not for a quick profit. Now, two years later, this practice is more important than ever to support artists and the galleries that support them.

For this exhibition, the gallery has reached out to some of the inimitable collectors who have joined Kelly on her podcast to find out which artwork touches them the most in these strange days. Participants include Marieluise Hessel Artzt, J. Tomilson Hill, Rodney Miller, Howard Rachofsky, Gary Yeh and Tiffany Zabludowicz.

What did he look like:

Frank Thiel, Piedras Blancas, (2012/2013). © Frank Thiel / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn. The Rodney Miller Collection. Courtesy of Sean Kelly, New York.

One of my most rewarding experiences as a collector is sharing works with others through museum loans. It is rewarding to present the works to a wider audience. Also, seeing the work in a museum setting often changes my experience with it. It may be the larger physical space, compared to home, seeing other people’s reactions or seeing work in conjunction with different arts or artists, but there is no doubt that there is a change.

Piedras Biancas is currently on loan to the DePaul Art Museum in Chicago. This may be one of the few times I won’t be able to see one of my works in a traveling exhibition, as the museum is closed. However, the increase in time spent looking at art online has renewed my affection for this work.

—Rodney Miller

Anj Smith, The fighter, (2010). © Anj Smith, photo: Alex Delfanne. The Tiffany Zabludowicz collection. Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth.

I thought of the work of Anj Smith, The fighter, during this moment. Anj’s beautiful, universal and melancholic work, against a dystopian backdrop, encourages us all to bravely fight the darkness of external and internal forces. The powerful artwork shows a person, staring with a direct gaze at the viewer, as creatures encroach on his mercurial body…

We are all united right now but we are also so alone and Anj’s work teaches us all about bravery, power and challenge.

—Tiffany Zabludowicz

Idris Khan, Four minutes and thirty-three seconds, (2012). © Idris Khan. The collection of Pablo Sepúlveda. Courtesy of Sean Kelly, New York.

Over these last few weeks of quarantine, Viviana, the girls and I have had the opportunity to see and appreciate every piece of art we have ever owned from a different perspective. Art has helped a lot to cope with this difficult period…

Idris Khan’s art has always captivated us; we find his photographic work profound by the depth of all its layers, intense but in a certain way subtle. The way he uses colors and shapes gives us peace. All the layers of information in this piece remind me of the complexity of the times we live in. A new circumstance for everyone and a time that forces us to be creative, in the same way that Idris Khan had to be creative when he designed this work of art.

—Pablo Sepulveda

Titus Kaphar, Time travel, (2013). © Titus Kaphar. Ron Pizzuti’s collection. Courtesy of the artist and Gagoasian, New York.

Black Americans are contracting the coronavirus and dying at an alarming rate that is disproportionate to the percentage of deaths in the white community.

The racism that existed during the Civil War still exists to a large extent today. The whitewashing that has dominated this painting sends a message to our nation that we must address the grave injustice caused by the lack of adequate medical coverage for blacks and browns. Initially, service-oriented jobs lack the benefits that many in the white community take for granted.

Time travel has a very different meaning for me than when I acquired the painting. I’m sure it took on new meaning for Titus as well.

—Ron Pizzuti

Isamu Noguchi, stone embrace (1985). © 2020 The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
The J. Tomilson Hill Collection.

In recent weeks, every morning, Noguchi’s stone embrace calling me to leave our room and start another day in isolation in East Hampton with my wife and daughter. Apart from walks on the beach, we were confined to our house, which gave us the opportunity to look at the art in our house with an intensity and concentration that we would never have in our “normal” routine. .

This Noguchi basalt sculpture always has something different to say…during a rainstorm when the wind is blowing at 80 knots…during clear, bright days, as seen here, when the sun is setting stone embrace and casts shadows on the stone at sunrise and sunset.

—J Tomilson Hill

Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Untitled” (Perfect Lovers) (1987-1990). © Felix Gonzalez-Torres
The Cindy and Howard Rachofsky collection. Courtesy of the Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ works were inspired by the fact that he was a gay man living with HIV. The discovery of the AIDS virus in the early 1980s and the impact of the AIDS epidemic in the 1990s highlighted the extreme societal prejudices against the gay community and people living with AIDS. Likewise, this new viral threat has quickly become intertwined with other life-threatening realities such as systemic discrimination, domestic violence, climate change, economic inequality, homelessness and mental health – often hidden issues, obscured, distorted or marginalized. In times like these, Gonzalez-Torres’ work reminds Cindy and I of the lessons we have learned from the HIV/AIDS pandemic and how those lessons can be usefully applied to the fight against COVID. -19. That is, at all times, and to the best of our abilities, act with kindness and show compassion and humanity.

—Howard Rachofsky

Richard Long, Untitled (2015). © 2020 Richard Long. All rights reserved, DACS, London / ARS, NY. The Dan Sallick Collection.

I chose a work we commissioned about five years ago for our living room from iconic English artist Richard Long. Crafted from white porcelain clay sourced from the artist’s home and applied with her own hand to linen, the piece has an organic, personal feel that feels homey, despite its massive size. In this moment that seems dark and uncertain, this work has an unrelenting positive energy that refuses to bow to the moment. It shines and welcomes you every day, allowing you to tap into its dynamic nature to help you through the most surreal moments of this crisis.

For me, this piece represents a timeless natural movement and force. Somehow I look at it and believe it will be fine. I also feel grateful. It reminds me of what I love most about the art collection, which is inspired by the genius and creativity of artists. I will remember this feeling and cherish my newfound appreciation for art among us long after I am over this crisis.

—Dan Sallick

Tomas Saraceno, Dark semi-social hybrid choreography HIP 54879 built by: Cyrtophora citricola duo – four weeks, (2019). © Tomás Saraceno. Tiqui Atencio’s collection
Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery New York / Los Angeles.

When I look at this work, it’s not just the art that I admire; that also teaches me something. It makes me more aware of the immensity of our bonds as human beings. How spiders, these amazing creatures, this ancient species that preceded us on this earth by millions of years, learned to adapt to their environment without harming nature, quite the contrary…

I’ve always thought of cobwebs as a symbol of how I like to collect, and I have more cobwebs in my collection, but living with this one has given me a whole new dimension of appreciation.

—Tiqui Atencio

Barbara Kruger, Untitled (God sends the meat and the devil cooks) (1988). Courtesy of the artist. The Alain Servais Collection.

I like the following sentence, which I read once and now quote freely: “A museum collection tends to represent a period in time as completely as possible whereas a private collection is a snapshot.

I care about the historical, social, political and cultural context of a work of art. It often has universal power, but is best understood in the context of the time in which it was created. This original context does not change with new events. If my perception of a work of art changes, it’s probably more often because I understand better or differently the context in which it was created.

One work that I am happy to highlight for its universal relevance is this 1988 work by Barbara Kruger. We are at a time when we must remember that behind all good there is evil and behind all evil there is good.

—Alain Servais

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