Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hollywood's "Posh" Art Collectors

Whether driving around the Hollywood Hills in a Ferrari or walking the red-carpet dripping in diamonds, rich celebrities love flaunting their money in all of its materialistic forms. While celebrity blogs, magazines, and television shows detail these frequent and obnoxious happenings 24 / 7 (and I'll admit it, I'm somewhat entertained by this junk), there's something I've always wondered: how do celebs feel about art and what do their art collections look like?

Here's the dish:

Former "Spice Girl" Victoria "Posh" Beckham and her hunky husband, famed soccer player David have a $45 million collection. Their "love themed" collection includes paintings, portraits and sculptures by Damien Hirst, Sam Taylor Wood, Tracey Emin, Banksy, and Jake and Dinos Chapman. One insider stated,

"Victoria is a mover and shaker in more upmarket circles nowadays and likes being a 'collector'... She is even in talks with a museum to showcase some of their pieces - all of which are love tokens, presents David or Victoria gave to each other for birthdays, Christmas and special anniversaries." - How Sweet... the seemingly stoic and non-emotional "Posh" Spice has a heart full of love (and an eye for art).

Additionally, in a recent interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, hip-hop superstar Jay-Z revealed that his super-star wife, Beyonce, controls his art tastes. Apparently, Jay-Z wanted to purchase a black-and-white photograph by renowned American artist Laurie Simmons depicting a "noirishly lit pistol with a pair of women's legs emerging from the handle." But Beyonce was less than impressed and told him she didn't want it hanging in their Tribeca penthouse in NYC. Instead, Beyonce replaced her husband's choice with another photograph by the artist of a perfume bottle - instead of a gun.

Cute... I like that Beyonce "wears the pants" in that relationship (and has a diva-esque taste in art as well)!

So what other artists are popular among celebs?

Andy Warhol (obviously) - The iconic Pop Artist is included in the collections of Elton John, Gianni Versace, Jane Fonda, Hugh Grant, and Robbie Williams.

Faith Ringgold - The African-American artist, known for her narrative quilt work, has pieces in the collections of Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey and Denzel Washington.

Damien Hirst - The popular British artist's pieces are included in the collections of Elton John, Madonna, and the Beckhams.

Click here for more info on celeb art collectors

Click here to see what's going on in the Los Angeles art world

Thursday, May 13, 2010

College and Univeristy Art Museums Collaborate in Unique Collection-Sharing Project

Initiated by Yale University Art Gallery (YUAG), seven college and university art museums are involved in a program intended to bolster intra- and inter-institutional collaboration, expand opportunities for faculty from all disciplines to teach using works of art, and strengthen the diverse community of college art museums. The program, funded by a generous $750,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will create and strengthen important relationships between the museums, colleges and universities.

The collaboration includes a strategic program of loans from YUAG's encyclopedic collection (which contains about 200,000 works) to six "partner museums," for use in specially developed exhibitions and related coursework.

The partner museums for the pilot project are the Bowdoin College Museum of Art (Brunswick, ME), Mount Holyoke College Art Museum (South Hadley, MA), Dartmouth College's Hood Museum of Art (Hanover, NH), Smith College Museum of Art (Northampton, MA), Williams College Museum of Art (Williamstown, MA) and the Allen Memorial Art Museum of Oberlin College (Oberlin, OH). Most of these museums had previously received support from the Mellon Foundation, which had sought to strengthen the use of original artworks across college and university curricula, and in 2008, meetings and discussions centered around extending the range and depth of the colleges' course offerings and of available scholarly research in which original works are a key component.

Preliminarily, each of the six partner museums considered how works from the Yale University Art Gallery could complement or amplify their own holdings, with the aim of enhancing academic programs. Following planning meetings at Yale during the spring of 2009, each museum submitted a proposal for a partnership with the Gallery.

Current and future projects will be developed through a collaboration that brings together a diverse list of curators, scholars and faculty from each partner institution and the Yale University Art Gallery. The exchange of knowledge, ideas and academic approaches will be an ongoing initiative, and Yale curators, conservators and faculty will continue working with the partner museums and colleges in various ways - including through teaching, lecturing and advising.
If the project is successful, I'd definitely want to be a student at one of the prestigious partner museums' associated colleges or universities. This seems like an amazing opportunity for college and university students to get hands on learning experience and view and learn about some of the world's most important works of art without stepping too far outside of the classroom.

Click HERE to read more.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Largest Private Collection of Mark Rothko Works Exhibited in Moscow

Moscow's Garage Center for Contemporary Culture is currently exhibiting 13 paintings from the world's largest private Mark Rothko collection. Titled "Mark Rothko: Into an Unknown World," this is Moscow's first large-scale exhibition devoted to the artist and focus on Rothko's mature period (1949 - 1969).

Included in the exhibition are studies for all three of the artist's famous mural projects: the Seagram Murals for the restaurant of the Seagram Building in New York, murals for the Holyoke Center at Harvard University and for the Rothko Chapel at the University of St. Thomas in Houston. A gray and black painting that Rothko completed shortly before his suicide in 1970 is also on display. This marks the first time these paintings have been shown together.

Rothko, born in 1903, explored surrealism and symbolism early in his career and later broke with representation in developing his signature style. The artist is best known for his post-1940s large canvases, on which he used luminous thin block coloring in reacting against the cubism of Picasso and the abstract cubism of Mondrian.

As the Moscow exhibition shows, Rothko's canvases became darker over the years, and his final works were devoid of color all together. This, along with Rothko's desire for dim lighting at his exhibitions (which the Moscow gallery is adhering to) reveal the artist's mounting struggles with depression, which became worse as he got older.

While Rothko has been a fixture of 20th century American Art - with his works included in the 20th century American art collections of some of the world's most well-known art museums (like the MoMA, Met, Tate, etc), it's interesting to note that the Russian art world is just now hosting its first large-scale Rothko exhibition. This is especially intriguing because the artist was actually born in Russia (a city formerly known as Dvinsk, which is now Daugavpils, Latvia). While it's debated, most experts say that Rothko's Russian heritage never really influence his work.

Click here to read the Moscow Times article associated with this post

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Unmasking the Art of the Mask

Whether worn to a costume party, purchased during Mardi Gras, or used in sacred African rituals, masks are part of various cultures and traditions around the world. Their artistic beauty, however, is often just as important and valued as their purpose. Likewise, their decorative nature and varied designs make them important and desired items to view, learn about and collect.During a previous trip to Venice, I fell in love with the city's numerous mask and costume shops (among other things). I purchased an ornately rhinestoned golden plaster mask - one that I myself never intend to wear - but rather look at it as a unique piece of art that sticks out among my growing collection.Two Colorado art collectors - Gary Hixon and his wife Carol Ann, feel strongly about collecting masks as well. The couple has built an impressive mask collection, beginning with Gary's own creation, for which he made for the Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art's signature Fundraising event in 2004. Over the past six years, the couple has obtained masks by many local artists and one by Colorado Senator Bob Bacon. Many of Hixon's masks will be on display at "Masks at MoCA" (through May 7th), an exhibit of 50 dazzling masks as well as an auction of 150 new masks made by local artists and community members. The auction will raise money for the museum's educational programs.
Wendy Franzen, a mask artist and collector (who also created ART342 with her husband, an artist-in-residency program), recently discussed the FCMoCA's Mask Exhibition:

"The artists are taking more risks. That first year [2004], most people just painted their mask. There weren't the sculptural pieces or the pieces where the mask is set into other elements, all the things you see now. Each year it expands more and more with ideas. They never seem to run out of ideas."Click here to check out some tips on mask collecting

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Prestigious "Ranch" Turned Art Museum

While most associate ranches with the "wild west," cowboys, rodeos and horses, Sunnylands Rancho Mirage California is not your typical ranch. Ambassador Walter and Leonore Annenberg had their 200-acre estate built during the 1960s near Palm Springs.

The Annenbergs lived in this desert oasis, which includes a 25,000 square-foot mid-century modern house and private golf course, each year for several months during the winter after its completion. The "ranch" has since entertained seven US presidents, British royalty, international political figures and cultural and entertainment icons.

The Annenbergs were extremely philanthropic, and in their memory, Sunnylands will undergo a transformation, becoming an art museum (and VIP conference center) in late 2011. The exquisite home contains the Annenberg's extensive collection of impressive art, including paintings by Van Gogh and Gauguin, two Rodins, a Giacometti, Chinese bronzes and stained glass. The art will be displayed among the home's original interior (which features period furniture).

The new Annenberg Center promises to offer visitors an understanding of the mid-century modern architecture and art collections at Sunnylands, the many important political and cultural figures who visited the ranch throughout the years and new sustainable approaches to living in the desert.

Associate professor of American art at the University of Pennsylvania, who has previously written about the house, recently stated:

"Once you are within the gates, the landscaping acts to occlude the outside world so that all you can see are the mountains and the sky. It is like the Annenbergs owned all of Palm Springs."

Maybe these picturesque views do evoke true visions of a quintessential (all-be-it, extremely luxurious) wild-west style ranch.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Charlene's Armory Show Favorites

While reports are saying Armory Show exhibitors "played it safe" this year, I was extremely impressed at the thousands of artworks I laid my eyes on this past weekend. As art collectors, exhibitors, common folk-art enthusiasts (like myself) and others attended the massive art fair (NYC's largest - encompassing Piers 92 and 94) right off the Hudson River, I fantasized about what I would purchase, if given a blank (or perhaps 6-figure) check.

I was so overwhelmed as I walked around, I must've looked like a deer in headlights to at least a few gallerists, and I wasn't even looking to purchase anything! How does one determine which - of the thousands of works on sale - to buy? While art collecting tends to be a personal endeavor, marked by experience, money, and individual taste, I can't imagine any buyer leaving the Armory Show and not finding what he / she was looking for.

Here are some amateur photos of my personal favorites - artworks, that if given the opportunity, I would have purchased to add to my own modest art collection.

Mel Bochner's wordy masterpieces (Two Palms, NY)

Jeongmee Yoon's "Ethan and His Blue Things" (2006) - the large glossy light-jet print is so much more detailed, interesting and unique in person (my photo doesn't do it justice)

Yoon's "Kara-Deyeoun and her Pink Things" is equally amazing... I would hang them side-by-side (Both works were on display at Jenkins Johnson Gallery's Booth

HC Berg's "Visual Vortex" at Galerie Forsblom (Helsinki) drew me in like a crystal ball. I's 3D iridescence, abstract shapes and glowing ora were enchanting.

I loved the pop-art-esque feel of Marjorie Strider's "Girl With Radish" at Mark Borghi Fine Arts

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Smithsonian's Art Collecting Resource

I stumbled upon the Smithsonian’s art collecting program, and their extensive and educational website about collecting art. Even if you don’t want to buy art through the Smithsonian Associates Art Collectors’ Program, the website is a great resource for collectors (or prospective collectors) who wish to learn more about the world of art collecting from one of the nation’s (and world’s) most comprehensive and well-known art institutions.

The resource gives information on everything from “Buying Good Art” (noting Fine Art Prints as an affordable way of owning original works of art by well-known artists) to “Selective Collecting: How to Focus Your Contemporary Art Purchases” (giving examples of collectors who have made selections by identifying their unique passions).

Other topics discussed on the site include buying prints with confidence, protecting original artwork and sculpture, the first step of collection management, researching history and authenticity, print buying 101, etc.

The Smithsonian gathers its information from a variety of sources and links to other useful websites - like, an informative and interesting British website that contains articles on how to collect and enjoy all types of art.

Check out the Smithsonian’s art collecting page to become a member or simply to take advantage of the museum’s tips, advice and more!

Check out the Smithsonian's for-purchase Art Collection here.