Everything passes. Robust art alone is eternal.
The bust outlasts the citadel.
--Theophile Gautier (L'Art, 1832)
Museum directors, curators and private connoisseurs are constantly surrounded by choice artwork. Is that enough? If they could have one piece of art they don't yet own or control, from any period, from anywhere in the world--what would it be?
Neoplasticism was the unique geometric style of abstract Dutch painter Piet Mondrian. "I would choose Mondrian's 'Victory Boogie Woogie,' " which is in a private collection in Connecticut, says Eli Broad, chief executive officer of Kaufman and Broad Inc. and founding chairman of the Museum of Contemporary Art. "Mondrian and other artists fled Europe during World War II and came to New York City. It was the beginning of a new era in art. . . . For me, 'Victory Boogie Woogie' signals the end of European dominance and the beginning of American post-World War II art."
Joan Quinn, a member of the California Arts Council and chairman of the Art in Public Places Program, and her husband, John Quinn, a Los Angeles attorney, collect the works of contemporary California artists. Her choice is a fantasy: a portrait of herself painted by Giovanni Boldini, an Italian artist noted for portraits of nobility and society figures. "Women, in his portraits, appear to be floating on the canvas, walking on clouds," she says. (Above, Boldini's "Madame Charles Max," in the Musee Nationale d'Art Moderne in Paris.)
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday October 5, 1986 Home Edition Los Angeles Times Magazine Page 11 Times Magazine Desk 2 inches; 42 words Type of Material: Correction
In "Collector's Choice" (Aug. 31), credits for Piet Mondrian's "Victory Boogie Woogie" and Giovanni Boldini's "Madame Charles Max" were reversed. Mondrian's painting is from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Burton Tremaine; Boldini's painting was reproduced courtesy Cliche Musees Nationaux.
Richard Koshalek, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, favors Abstract Expressionism--especially the work of Jackson Pollock, American artist and key figure in the Abstract Expressionist movement. "In 1950, to have commissioned Jackson Pollock to do a room, one painting, or a series of paintings that would occupy a specific space would have been fantastic . The energy of Pollock's work goes beyond the canvas and creates a powerful, environmental effect." (Left, "Lavender Mist: Number 1," in the National Gallery in Washington.)
'I once said that I would hock my shares in Occidental Petroleum to buy (it) if it is ever offered for sale," says Dr. Armand Hammer of Pierre Auguste Renoir's "Luncheon of the Boating Party," which is part of the Phillips Collection in Washington. Hammer, chairman of the board of Occidental Petroleum, owns three collections himself that tour the world for exhibition. But the Impressionist masterpiece, he says, "captures the laughter and spirit of a magnificent boating party," and then he adds: "I guess it is so moving to me because it reminds me of the years I spent in Paris as a young man."
To desire any work in a public gallery, says Robert Wark, curator at the Huntington Library and Art Gallery in San Marino, is an "unrealizable wish"--especially if one's preferences include William Hogarth, an 18th-Century English artist. "Hogarth's satirical series of paintings are in public (British) collections already," Wark says. "I would say, however, I would like a series of narrative paintings similar to, comparable to, the type of 'Marriage a la Mode' by Hogarth (in the National Gallery in London)."
The private collection of David L. Wolper consists of 40 Pablo Picasso sculptures and ceramics. If he could have anything, the producer of Emmy-winning miniseries ("Roots," "The Thorn Birds") and creator of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1984 Olympic Games and this year's rededication of the Statue of Liberty, would like one more Picasso sculpture, one now in the Musee Picasso in Paris. " 'Bull's Head' is one great piece that I love and I can't possess," Wolper says. "It is so simple but fabulous. Picasso was vital; he kept changing. And he must have had a great sense of humor."
'The most ravishing, beautiful painting ever created and one of my favorites through time is Velazquez's 'Las Meninas' in the Prado Museum in Madrid," says Dr. Earl A. (Rusty) Powell III, director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Diego Velazquez was a Spanish genius. The color achieved is wonderfully rich, resonant, lustrous and transparent. His painting is a mysterious tour de force painting--the highest form of artistic expression."
Marcia Weisman, art collector and founder of the Museum of Contemporary Art, says that "The Red Studio," by French master Henri Matisse, is "the first painting I ever fell in love with. I had a poster of it hanging in my dormitory bedroom at Mills College." Chairman of the Advisory Council of the Arts at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Weisman favors this Matisse, which is in New York's Museum of Modern Art, because, she says, it "has everything. To me, 'The Red Studio' is the beginning of what art is today. . . . It represents all that Matisse has ever done--and then some."