good evening. i'm the james dickeycurator of contemporary art and it is a pleasure to welcome you here tonight forour collectors' roundtable program. before we begin if i could just ask everyone toturn off cell phones and any other mobile devices. we're going to have a short question andanswer period following the lecture this evening. i would just ask that if youdo have a question for our speaker, if you could speak into the microphones,which we normally have in the aisles, but i don't see them tonight so maybe we'renot, we're dispensing with that. at any rate, but i do encouragequestions and if these microphones
appear in the aisles at the end of theprogram, please direct your questions from themicrophone so that our audience who's tuning in via webcast can hear yourquestion and the answer. tonight's program is the third and finallecture in our collectors' roundtable series, which is designed to offerinsights and advice from museum directors, collectors, dealers from acrossthe country. the series is made possible by the thelma and melvin lenkin foundation and we're joined tonight by our sponsors which weare very very grateful for. our speaker this evening is robert lehrman, adc-based collector and philanthropist,
with a passion for contemporary art,which he's going to describe, i think, in a fascinating lecture. he's intending to address a variety ofsubjects. each of them, huge lectures in and of themselves, but in particular, ithink, that of great importance. the role of art in our society and culture,the relationship between aesthetic and financial value, and how to read art thatseems unintelligible, which is that's a huge question. roberthas been collecting since 1979 with a primary focus on art of our times. his collection includes painting andsculpture and consists predominantly
only of american and european artists,namely william christenberry, damien hirst, agnes martin, gerhard richter, andy warhol. he also has one of the mostcomprehensive collections of joseph cornell. as founder and president ofthe voyager foundation he collaborated with the smithsonian american art museumto produce what became an award-winning book and an interactive dvd-rom on the life and work of joseph cornell. robert has lectured extensively on art,art appreciation, at museums, and universities across the country.
he believes intensely that collectingand supporting art organizations is a vital civic responsibility. heserves on the board of trustees at the hirshhorn museum and sculpture gardenhere in washington, where he was chairman of the board of from 1998 - 2003. it is my distinct pleasure to welcomerobert to the stage. thanks joanna. the opportunity tospeak to you tonight is a thrill to me. i also want to thank betsy broun who, as you all known, runs the show here.also, nona martin who has done all the legwork to make this possible.
when i was asked to speak, i gave aworking title called, "secrets of art" and in the process of thinking about whatthey might be, to lewer you in here, it occurred to me and that there is abig and broad topic that i want to broach with you. in the past i've donevarying lectures on how you collect and how i got to my collection. i hopeyou'll find this overview a little more interesting. i want to consider a topic tonightthat's broader than the many components of collecting. we will take a visit throughthe many venues where artist is seen, judged, appreciated, and eventually sold.the word itself has a host of
connotations, and they're not alwaysconsidered polite. our journey will take you to what i've learned not only inmuseums, galleries, art fairs, and auctions but also, and i think most importantly,from living with and thinking about contemporary art for the last 30 years.on this journey i've learned much from many colleagues and mentors, some who areactually here tonight, and i'm very grateful to them, and truly feel likethey're not only my kindred spirits but actually a part of my extended family.for me this adventure has been a search for another way of perceiving andperhaps understanding and appreciating the often unintelligible and alwaysdemanding and ever evolving world of
contemporary art. if it takes usbriefly to consider the mire of money, which to some as an inappropriatesubject, then i hope you'll bear with me. becausethe path of art from conception in the artist's mind, to its creation in thestudio does move through the galleries into the marketplace of ideaswhere it will be judged for its originality and it's staying power untilit gets, hopefully to its final resting place in a museum, where the financialfacets fade and the money is a reflection of society's validationdisappears. along the way, money is nevertheless an interesting is somefield distorting metric.
it's certainly not the only one and notvery polite, but still a compelling part of the story for no other reason thanit's an easy measure to understand. sometimes not so easy to understand. it's important to note that fair marketvalue is not the same as actual worth when we're thinking about art. even atits immensely high price, a popular piece of artwork, could andoften does eventually fall out of out of favor and lose its appeal. sometimes that will come back, often itdoesn't. this speaks to both the subjectivity of what's considered fairmarket value and also its fluctuations
and time and place. other works withno marketable fair market value nonetheless can become treasured - thinkfor instance of van gogh - or be priceless to you for other reasons. how does this market differentiatebetween these wide range of differences? that's one of the things that we'regoing to explore tonight. i'd like to share an idea and propose a hypothesisthat i find fascinating in which might be helpful if not necessarily entirelyaccurate. our society, and by extension the humancondition, prizes and benefits from quality ofthinking in its many manifestations in
science, technology, medicine, politicalthinking, and also of course the arts. our lives benefit from this darwinian marchout of our not too distant primordial pasts by the innumerable advancesgenerated by our curiosity and our need. one of our most distinctivetraits is our growth capacity to evolve. the symbolsthat reflect our state of being also move with us, hopscotching from the cavesof lascaux, to the religious art of feudal times, up through theenlightenment, and the renaissance, the industrial revolution, and eventuallythis history of enormously complex ideas takes us, as it were, to putting a man onthe moon.
similarly in the arts we've come to seeand experience of vastly different world thanks to a progression of innovativeideas that open and ever widening field the flowering possibilities and manyfaceted expressions of visual creation. it has been said that the history of20th century art starting with picasso and continuing through duchamp and themany fascinating march of the isms has been driven by, and largely based on thisevolution of ideas, made manifest not just an old fashion pictorial space butin an explosion of media and mediums that continue to both provoked challengeand reward our explorations. what i'd like to suggest as we're about tojump into the actual lecture is that in
science r&d, research and development, if 99% of any experiments fail they canbe forgiven, if the one percent finds a new drug for the cure. similarly great art takes us to newlevels of insight and appreciation and eventually a richer and deeper and morenuanced understanding of the human condition. this, i really fervently believe, is what it'sall about. with that as a prologue i'm hoping to be able to show you, notonly the agony of doubt, but also the
ecstasy of discovery, the 'aha' momentsthat exists on both sides of the creative process. the artist making thework, and you the audience considering these metaphors of existence are trulybeyond the metrics of money whether you view them as worthless or priceless. the question of what's truly new is, ithink, essential to looking at contemporary art. the difference and imight add that these photographs were taken getting off a plane from afinancial management banking company that was trying to adopt art as its newpet, and interesting and very i think unusual position for the financialcommunity, but it's something we're
seeing more and more. what is really new, versus what's onlynovelty. these tennis sneakers were from the gift store of a murakami exhibition atthe brooklyn museum of art. the louis vuitton branding, i thought, wasenormously surprising to see the museum even in the gift store. but theconnection of course to the branding of the world of art is something we'regoing to see and talk a little bit more about. this picture was far more funny,"bwana devil in 3d," from the fifties before the actual 3d of the recent movieand has made it seem more credible. but i do think that contemporary art and itsmany ideas help us.
if it is successful they allow us tosee the world with a much more vibrant vision, not just of the art that we are actually seeing but as we'll look back to this idea of the world beyond that weexperience and have to navigate. ultimately when you're collecting andwhen you're looking at art what turns you on is the arbiter of your enjoyment.you can decide whether you like it or not. althought as marcia tucker, theformer director of the new museum, told me, she said, "robert when you're lookingat art don't wear the roman emperors toga and have your thumb up if you loveit and your thumb down if you don't. actually listen to it and try to learnfrom it, and even if you don't think you
like it give it a chance to speak toyou and see what it's saying." it's often those kinds of additional effortsthat allow us, when we see things that aren't initially clear, that help us toenjoy them in new and i think dynamic ways. there is a battle going on, always between truth and beauty. we're lookingat a picture that is obviously conceptual by john baldessari. it sayspure beauty. i'd like to read, this will be the last time i'll have aprepared script, from no less an authority than steve martin who said, "ifthere's something i can pretend to have
learned from modern art, it's that you can't make somethingbeautiful by trying to make something beautiful. it becomes beautiful in the process ofbecoming something else." now, let's see what that something elsemight mean. when we start looking at art, there are a lot of sources out therecertainly subscribing to the major art museums gives us an easy and quickoverview of what's going on in the world. there are books, and this group suggestsan education on some of the classics, but in addition going to thegalleries will allow you to get artist
monographs and learn what differentcurators are thinking is interesting what's out there what's happening at themoment. there are art exhibitions that can be seen in washington, in new york, inlos angeles and of course they are offering us new ideas for new times. thisis an image of course of bilbao. it's interesting how the medium changesof the message. bilbao and frank gehry's amazing miracle, the first post modernbuilding of the 21st century, could never have been created without theexceptional advancement of computer-generated technology whichallowed these unpredictable curves actually be built, to be predicted, to bemanufactured. i mention that because
one of the questions that i'm constantlycoming to terms with is, "how do new modes of technology effect expressions andcontemporary art?" we'll see some of those as we move forward as you look atthe things in the art galleries, in the museums, and in other places. i keep a running diary that allows me toboth note things i don't understand and then try to return to them oftenwith the benefit of reviews by more knowledgeable, orexperienced, or poetic art critics than myself. you can see that the same methodology ofapplying a certain structure, in this
case a grid of many colored cubes, isused by three different artists in different ways. there is no substitute of course foractually seeing these things in person in order to get the scale, the presence,the physicality and the real sense of what they are about. traveling is one ofthe great perks of being curious in the art world. one of the things that i thought was aback story on this cold wintry day when my wife and i went to see the gatesproject in central park in new york. christo and his wife worked on this forabout 25 years, could not get it approved.
the reason i was told, and i think thisis fascinating, that it was approved for february was that the mayor recognize thatthis was a lull in new york's tourism business, and they would bring an influxof potential business to the great city of new york. they scheduled itfor the winter, and it was a fascinating experience, as christo's experiences almostalways are, and yet another example of how you really do have to be there tounderstand and feel what it's about. there is a chance to go to art fairs.you'll see that my son and my wife's is a enormously impressed with thedamien hirst picture behind him. but he's considering something on the other wallwith evidently great uncertainty, and i
certainly know that feeling. when we go,as i said, as marcia tucker suggested, having an attitude of openness ofinquiry in which we can celebrate the new is an important component of gettingsomething back from your efforts and from your time. pictured below is an extraordinary, in mymind, juxtaposition in the far distant "marilyn monroe's lips a hundred times" byandy warhol and hanging down are a series of hangers that a local artist,dan steinhilber, created and above that the three circles. those are sweet'n low, splendid, and
other artificial sweeteners that wereplaced in the auspicious setting of a garbage can top, and then made into awork of art. i have one of those in my collection and am thrilled and love havingit. better living through chemistry is of course something that we all experienceand that damien hirst, one of the british, young british artist, has made anenormous focus on. what you are looking at now is a cabinet that is full of boxesof medicine. it is the kind of thing that i think wecould easily dismiss and which raises an enormous set of interesting questionswhich we're going to approach tangentially and directly. i can tell youby cutting to the chase that at some
point have been seen enough of these, andhe did his first as his senior thesis when he was an art college graduate. hetook, i'm told, the contents of his grandmother's bathroom and decided thathe would make a medicine cabinet and then he did another 11 of them andpresented them as his work of art for his senior thesis show. now when i go,as you will see when we move further along, in to a drugstore i think ofdamien hirst and i'm going oh my goodness he's managed to change the wayi see things! this is aclose-up of an extraordinary work in which there is a bright shiny reflectivebackground.
the pills that are on these shelves areno longer actual pills, because their shelf life would not extend as long asdamon wants his art to last, which we presume is forever, but they arefacsimile is made out of some sort of painted metal - perhaps bronze. i think you can get a sense of theirenormous decorative quality. i was walking through the museum ingermany and i saw a huge pill cabinet, must have been20 feet across by about ten feet tall. it had this remarkable presencewhich is part of the preconditioning that i think gave me that sense when i,subsequently years later, walked into a
drug store and thought of damien. nowdamien is the person who has provoked a lot of controversy in the art world. the art forum cover story here, from april2006 it appears to be, has to do with the the human skull that he covered withdiamonds and his title, and damon is brilliant in his use of titles, is aquote from his mother in which he said, "for the love of god." it certainly raises many interestingquestions and we're going to address those questions fourth with. one of thequestions that comes out of course is, "can you see the art for the money that issparkling through the diamonds?"
there are all kinds of doubts about howand why damien created this kind of work. he brings up issues of life and death.this slide is a little fuzzy because i took it from a hirshhorn lecture of simonschama, so i give simon credit for showing us the dove on the right ascending up into the heavens and theskull on the left. damien is playing with issues of lifeand death. whether this huge and very controversial work that he made, a hugetiger shark, that was put into the formaldehyde case. i should mention toyou that this case changes your experience of what that shark is. if wesaw this shark in a natural history
museum it would not work the way youwould imagine an object of it's sort would, because the cadencing of thosevertical white struts shifts in a very dramatic way, your experience of it. so you are certainly looking at one ofthe ideas, the metaphor, of how can you experience death. now we're looking at a copy of the artnewspaper, and i wanted to point out to you that the question of commerce hasnow entered into this. all you have to do is look over there and see that onthe bottom left the title says, "hirst: better than microsoft or oracle.
the shark has yielded an annual returnof 41.6 percent over the last 13 years." to which we can only say,"well what's that about?" now there is an enormous push backagainst this commodification of art with its rising prices. it produced a bookthat really got my goat and it's called, "the $12 million dollars stuffed shark." it was written by someone who actually tried, i think, to suggest that it was alla rouse as it were, that the contemporary art world was in effectjust wearing the emperor's new clothes. it was all about vanity and hadnothing to do with the quality of thinking that, i think, in fact informsand has invested in these works. but the
metrics of money are appealing. they can't help but get people'sattention and i can tell you that in the world out there, art has become - and here's one of thesecrets of the art world - a new alternative asset class. when i firststarted collecting my parents thought i was crazy. my mother said, "you paid good money for,that?" my banker said, "i'm sorry son please take these things off yourfinancial statement. i have no way of valuing them and they do not belong inyour portfoli, as i understand it."
i want to point out to you that thatbest buy logo, which i caught from the back of a cab as i was leaving new yorkcity, uses both the color and the exact type of ed ruscha oof. now oof was put there because, i was thinking,"well how do you talk about the metrics of art as it gets confused by money?" for me, one of the proofs of the oof was something ed ruscha said. he said, "whenyou're looking at art, what you want to get first is the 'huh' and then go to the'wow.' what you don't want is to see it first and go 'wow' and then eventually 'huh'?"
that's one easy secret about how youcan judge what you're looking at. damien hirst, who i mentioned, put theshark in formaldehyde also preceded to put other animals, some of which i might add were sawed inhalf. i should tell you, that when i first sawthis work it offended many people, because they thought that damien hadsome kind of cruel sense of fascination with death, that ignored the sanctity oflife. my reaction, while i think that is a credible one, and no single reactionor art is compelling, perhaps i'm the black sheep in this story,in that i actually thought that these
works were enormously compassionate. asit were, we've seen that diamond-encrusted skull. they could be the modern memento morireminding you that the joy of this moment in the world is something that'sfleeting, that your time here is limited, and in fact you should consider theissues of life and death, which i think are in fact juxtaposed and absolutelyconsciously put for us to look at with these two animals. of course damien isvery clever. he is an enormously successful entrepreneur. something imight add that is somewhat unusual, the myth of the starving artist is no longerthe role model that contemporary artists
follow. in this particular work, damien, i think, was playfully talkingabout the golden calf that the israelites were found worshipping whenmoses came down from the mount sinai to deliver the ten commandments. thefact that the frame is gold and that there's this gold septer on top of thecalf and the formaldehyde was a intentional tongue and cheek, punintended, gesture to that question. i can tell you that when the single salewas held there were people - and this was not from that sale but when you go to anauction houses you head up the stairs sometimes this is what you'll see. thereis that sense of celebration and of
being sold something. as john russell oncesaid in the meanings of modern art a work of art is an idea bank, it is also an emblem of the good life,but more than that it is about what it is trying to tell us. damien hirst learned that you couldbuild the brand. you're looking here at a enormousvariety of the kind of works that he is done. of course you don't have any sense ofscale. you can see in the upper left there is a spin picture which has askull underneath it. it is a set of
cigarette butts of work that we will returnto. on the bottom left are dot paintings, butterfly paintings, and ofcourse the better living through chemistry damien hirst brand of his useof pills as a metaphor for modern living. of course you may have heard, but if youhaven't on literally the day that lehman brothers fell damien hirst sold a$198 million dollars worth of his art directly at auction. he did not go through a dealer and itwould appear that he is an enormously clever promoter, but beyond that, i thinkhe's an enormously gifted artist. i want to shift now to the notion of howbranding and advertising is something
that we see every day. those companies that sell thecosmetics and the hair salon shampoos are in this image, of course, trading onbotticelli's venus. on the right, you see, an advertisement that i saw drivingthrough the streets of new york and its original source. here you see the italianexpresso taken at some airport trading off of the leonardo da vinciimage of the man circle in the square, except in this instance it's a woman.of course who better than andy warhol to represent this notion ofcrossover between graphic design - you may know that andy warhol's careerin new york started as a graphic
designer, and so he could appreciate andhe knew what got people's interest. he knew as an illustrator how you couldsell something to someone because he had done it over and over and over, and hewas one of the best. then of course he appropriated theimage of marilyn monroe. this image was taken from a publicityshot by philippe halsman. you can see that it, what better idea of selling someoneelse's fame of branding her face then taking a publicity shot of marilynmonroe and making it into art. i think it's an interesting statementabout how good warhol was at what he
did. that at least in new york among thatgroup if you show people a picture of warhol's image on the right and ask themwhat they're looking at they generally say i'm looking at anandy warhol, they don't say i'm looking at a marilyn monroe. it just goes toshow you how much that crossover actually exist in people's minds. ofcourse art influences advertising. it's a full circle. on the left you see an andywarhol. interestingly enough, i photographed this just over the weekend up at one ofthe auction houses. it appears that levi strausscommissioned andy to do one of his multiple images. on the same day i waswalking down madison avenue some 20 or
so years later 25 years later and youcan see how the advertising on the right of whatever the shop was selling wasborrowing andy's very beautiful and clever use of colors, and repetition ofimagery to suggest something. in addition high art borrows kitsch. thisis another one of our friend damien hirst's amazingly large works. it is a butterfly picture he hasappropriated the image of the heart which of course is a very kitschy image.no conversation about contemporary art and kitsch is successful without atleast making an honorable mention of jeff koons who did this amazingly highfinish.
you will soon see the scale of ablue heart, and if you don't like the color blue you can get in and lots of other colors.jeff is a very interesting artists. he is somebody that i've never fully come tounderstand. this is an example of the kind of research i do when i'm lookingat art. i read the articles, i underline them, i make my notes and i'm not gonnalinger too long on this because you may find me being more critical than isappropriate. here the heart appears in art + auction. now you can see the scale of it. it is,certainly i would say, about 7 foot tall
and probably about 12 feet across. it became one of the trophy artacquisitions of the 2008 bubble, the art bubble. of course jeff started out bycelebrating kitsch. you can see some of the earlier works he did from a series he called"finality". i frankly did not get these pieces. i am not a person thatcelebrates finality, i have been, by many collector friends of mine, told i'mmissing the boat and that in fact i'm a snob because i don't get it. but the dumbingdown that jeff does is something that he
changed, and he created some amazingsculptural works in the ensuing decade. on the right i think is one of the bestworks of the 1990s, in terms of sculpture. it's called "the bunny". it isabout the life size of the bunny you would buy if you were at the zoo and yougot that plastic bunny, but of course it's covered with this enormously brightand brilliant aluminum patina. on the left, and you can see the scale of thework called "the puppy" by jeff koons, and it is covered withflowers. it is one of the most popular andsuccessful crowd drawers. it is now located, i believe one of the versions isin front of bilbao, the museum that frank
gehry built. last but certainly notleast, "balloon dog" you can see the scale of this piece by the size of theescalator behind it. as i said if you don't like in a blue you can get in red. in addition to that you can see thatjeff was making, i think, a very conscious homage to andy warhol with theeasy, fun, silver balloon that is on the wall to the right in which the redballoon dog is reflected. that is a, for those of you that know warhol'scareer of course the factory in new york he covered with silver tin foil to giveit the shimmering sense, and he actually did a project where he released silverballoons.
so this whole notion of artists lookingover their shoulder and borrowing methodologies of getting their work seengetting their work understood is something that i think is a threadthrough contemporary art. of course when i was down in miami, i actually saw a billboard that wasbeing erected that i think was a joke. i never called that particular number tofind out, but it certainly is clear that that has become a part of the mentalityof artists working today. i don't think that's necessarily bad. warhol is, of course, the darling of theauction houses. he is the single perhaps
most consistent and successful artist inthat regard. this was taken actually just three daysago on the trip that i made to preview the auctions. as we will soon discuss, anauction house can be a very interesting place to look at art for any number ofreasons. in this instance some people are thereto see the art, and in other instances they are there to see, well you can guessit. this is a work that warhol made around1961. it's, i believe, 200 $1 bills, silkscreened and it set a enormous price. i think somewhere in the neighborhood of,and i may be wrong on this, but $25
million dollars. can you see the art on the wall whenyou're actually looking at the money? it's a question that i'm not actuallysure how to answer but i'm going to try momentarily. i want to speak to you when people askme then, "well so how's the art market?" there is no single art market thatanyone can describe. in fact there are a number of art markets. you start out with the young and therestless, which is the broadest group. then there are up-and-coming artists whohad a show or two, and whose work are a
little bit more known. they might havebeen written about they probably been seen. then there are the more mature artistwhose careers have been around for some time. at the top of this pricepyramid, and that's all it is is a price pyramid, is the trophy art. warholis the darling of the trophy art world, in that regard. the financial institutions, that at one timesaid art had no metric and i think they were right in terms of saying if wedon't understand the metrics of money we shouldn't include because we don't haveto deal with it
things should and are appropriatelyconservative about alternative asset classes that are not their skill set. butnow in new york you'll be interested to know that they're actually art capitalgroup private banking for the art world. my administrative assistant, wholong-sufferingly help me put this together, said you know even some of the financialinstitutions have their own art collections now. of course that is a new phase of artwhere it has become of interest. in exploring the new, of course, video issomething that's always coming into new forms. i recommend to your attentionupstairs,
there is a gallery that john hanhardt,who the new curator coming here to the american art museum from first thewhitney and the guggenheim, it's the gallery upstairs is called "watch this". we have a great nam june paik upstairsand he will be doing a retrospective of nam june paik. if you'reinterested in what's possible nam june paik was one of the earliest and still, ithink, most influential video artist. it's a great chance for you tofamiliarize yourself with it. if you have the time go upstairs to see namjune's work "electronic super highway" which is a very interesting work.it should come as no surprise that
the world around us is going to echosome of the same characteristics that the art world is trying to take on. thisis an image of one of the many moments in times square in new york as you'releaving, no actually, barclays, it might be london.but in any case, it is this ubiquitous vista of media and lights. i was mesmerised in one window where isaw these images just flying in front of you. i should tell you that it echoesa feeling i have as a collector. for all of my efforts, i'm often baffled as anyone else is about where the nextpossible statement of quality of
thinking is going to come, and how i canbe prepared for it. we see in this world something thatpeter schjeldahl, i think, referred to somewhat disparagingas bright shiny things. on the left there is a actual "the bunny" by jeffkoons and coincidentally on the media screen to as if the bunny is looking ata image of himself floating up there in the macy's dayparade. i thought that was hilarious. it was a show called pop art in the tategallery and not one that i thought was a celebration of the best quality ofthinking, although, it did have enormously goodworks. then on the right is a series
of media screens which reflects thediversity of possibilities that are now being explored by artist. while we'reon the subject of bright shiny things, i went to london to explore a work byanish kapoor who was making these kind of fun house mirrors. i looked at this particular one in theshow, and i wasn't as wild about these works, because i didn't understand wherethey fit in terms of expanding the vocabulary. but when i went to the friezeart fair, he had done a variation of it that hadthis kind of octagon, almost like a bees', or an insects' eye
pixelating effects. it just knockedmy socks off. it is, as you can see, very large. it's 8 feet across. if you wantto know what that little girl was actually reacting to, if you look at this close-up of her faceshe's smiling. i think that that's an important role for contemporary art. i don'tmean to suggest that it always has to be obscure or difficult or impossible tounderstand. that smile was reflected by my wife's smile. that's what happens when you stand infront of the work. i bumped into anishafter purchasing this work and i thanked
him for his enormous creativity but ialso told him that i thought because i had seen my wife's face in his work thatit was even more beautiful than he might have imaged. he said, "fine, i'm really glad you likeit." that's because the check had cleared. ishould also tell you, and here's a secret of the art world, when we were down at asmall island we decided that we'd ride around and take a look at some of theproperty out of total and utterly idle curiosity. the realtor down theretold us that this beautiful lot was owned by an artist by the name of anish kapoor. i went, "oh that's really interesting."
he said and actually he made amistake because he tore the house down here thinking he was going to build herebut then he bought another lot and now he's got two lots here. i thoughtisn't it interesting that now the collectors are renting and the artistsare buying and building the houses. i think it's a good thing. you don't alwayshave to pay a trophy art price to get a work of art you love. this work by stefandean which is called "prayer mill" is made of dye chromatic glass, which is put into a post card rack that has an interac so that, in the former iteration thestored postcards would be available to the merchant to restock, and the outsiderack and when the sunlight hits it is
truly miraculous in its colors. ifind it enormously rich and rewarding. i think it's important that you rememberthat in looking at art, you need to take time to understand it. agood work of art is something like a good friend, it gets better with age. art thatstands the test of time continues to have broader sense of possibilities andmetaphors. just as you grow and bring more experiences to it, it will expandand allow you to engage in a richer and more dynamic dialogue with it. i want to mention that for all of myefforts to be focused and disciplined
and follow the rules often chance playsa big role. of course 90% of success is showing up and then what elsehappens can often be a matter of chance. this is a reproduction of a wonderfulrichard diebenkorn painting that i dearly wanted to buy. it reflected a lot of wheremy collection at that time was focused, which is to say gestural romantic painting. it had that quality oflooking through the artist studio in ocean park california waking up and smellingthe coffee. while i was at that particular preview, and this is one ofthe reasons i mentioned you that auctions can be a very interesting placeto see art, i happened to bump into this
picture, and it knocked my socks off. it was one of the most powerfulexpressions of andy warhol's, what is now referred to as his death and disaster.an image of jackie kennedy with the veil on at the funeral following theassassination of the president. i thought to myself now that is an amazingpicture. i came back and spoke to the head of the hirshhorn and said i reallythink this is a history picture that has its place in washington. i think you should get it. we have themarilyn monroe lips hundred times, but we don't have this kind of iconic image. he said you know, i agree with you, but
i think right now it's sometimes morecomplicated for museums on short notice to be able to pull together thenecessary finances and approvals to make this kind of acquisition. hesaid why don't you get it, and you can give it to us when you're done with it. i actually bid at auction for thiswork and when i purchased it, this is an example of what i wasthinking on the phone. this is an example of how i felt, themunch's scream, when i became the successful bidder. in fact, my agent went one bid above what ihad authorized to him. i had said, if we get
to that number you should call mebecause we were on the phone together, and tell me if i'm going to do one morebid. of course one more bit could take you up to the heavens. i said to him,so who is that at our stretch number, and he said that's us pal. i said but i didn't authorize you todo that, you were supposed to ask me. he said well we're there pal. let's pause from this drama of commerceand go to what andy was actually, i think, about. the "16 jackie's 1965" it will helpyou to know come out of warhol's interest. that, ithink, started when he was a child in
pittsburgh. he was so poor that his momwould take he and his brothers to the church. i believe it's a russian orthodox. it'snot well known but andy warhol was an observant catholic. those images ofthe saints that you see on either side of the altarpiece was something that hetook quite seriously. something got imprinted on him. believe it or not this is what andy hadliterally right next to his bed in new york. it's a picture, as you can see, amadonna and child. you can see the crucifix on hisnightstand, this is a man who having all
of the brash and bright social world ofnew york nonetheless had quiet convictions. if you want to knowwhere the cowl and the image from that sad day in 1963 came from, i suggest you can go back in art historyand look at this 16th century image by chima bowie and certainly jackie stoodas our madonna of the sorrows. i almost hesitated to buy the warholbecause i did feel it's angelic power might be sad for me to live with. i can tell youthat it has not, over time, to prove, to be difficult to live with it is actuallyenormously inspiring. that sense, this
is a picture that is a variation of theimage of jackie, warhol did i think six different ones. i hope you can get some sense of theiconic power that warhol is aware of. he was looking at fame with marilyn, hewas looking at fortune or the lack thereof in terms of this sad tragedy, buthe had his finger on the pulse of something that became very important.that is in part the quality of thinking and the distance that he was able to getto give us a more accurate mirror of our times. sometimes art will offer you anopportunity to have a very surprising juxtapositions. when i bought the damienhirst cabinet of cigarette butts, on the
left, again the issue of better livingthrough chemistry is at least inferred by that. in a million years i neverimagined that it would work well with the 16 jackie's. however as you can seejuxtaposed across from each other, the repetition and the use of a very cleanand simple grid is something that seems to speak one work to the other. when people look at art that they don'tunderstand, one of the simplest ways to get it, as itwere, is just to say well what is it i'm looking at? when i have this kind ofdiscussion with people to come to understand what this cabinet ofcigarettes are about,
it's very easy to quickly say well it's about cigarettes, and what do cigarettes mean? they mean cancer. why do people smoke? because well they're addicted. why do they still smoke?well it gives them pleasure. how is it presented? it's very clean,it's very antiseptic, it's behind glass. within 30 seconds we've talked abouta work of art that has pleasure and pain, and life and death, and medicine, anddisposable trash and treasure. i mean, it's an enormously rich set of ideas thathirst, i think, has managed to put into a seemingly worthless disposable object.just the way andy warhol took yesterday's newspaper
with the images of jackie and by representing it to us in a new way, gave it new meaning. good ideas take us to new places. isaw this advertisement at the train station on my way back. invest in imagination, is something that i believe in. here it's being used as a commercial promotional for ishares, but ithink it applies equally to the world of the quality of thinking that we look atin art, which expands our world. this is another advertisement. what didyou do today? that kind of sense, have you expanded, your on lopez, your day and producedsomething meaningful?
here is an image of my office from mydesk. you'll see that the prayer mill sculpture that is shining with the light,you can actually see it on the concrete floor. i often think of my office when it's notpure pandemonium, as a laboratory for me to live with and look at art. if you lookto the left through that doorway you'll see that there is a very blue light thatyou might perceive now that i've pointed out to you. it comes from a sculpture and traceyemin is the name of this neon sculptor. one of the happy discoveries, and iinitially was not keen on her work.
i saw this work at an art fair with mywife. she thought it was sincere, i thought it was ironic. we both agreethat it was something that we could enjoy and it consistently reminds methat her love emanates from her office, even when she's not there. the world of art is a very complicatednetwork of people. if you are a collector you will getknown for what your passions are, for what your attitude is. it is thisgroup of people that as you get to know will help you to learn more about theart and eventually, if you are fortunate and sincere and work at it, and it is, ithink, something that you have to be
dedicated to do well to have access toit. going to galleries is a great way of course to see it this will give you somesense of the scale of some of damien hirst's works. another way to get access to a lot ofart is to go to the art fairs. if you think it's easy to go through, this is an overview of what an art fairlooks like, this is the, i believe, it's the miami art fair. that littlesmiley face down there on the right is how you start, but it's after a whilefinding the needle in the haystack that matches your particular interest cansometimes be a daunting experience. but
if nothing else it gives you theopportunity under one roof to see hundreds and hundreds of differentgalleries. each who show about, i would say, 10 different artists who haveprobably worked at least two years on a body of work. if you do the math what you're lookingat when you look into an art fair is about 2,000 years of human experience. often i come from these explorations which i sometimes called due diligenceto just keep up with the art market and wonder what's wrong with me that i havenot been able to find anything that's inspiring to me. nonetheless beingout there helps us to know more about
what's going on. another way, and it's notone that i could speak to because i don't use it, is the online. i have notbought nor do i think it's good to try to do so, artwork from online. on the other hand, saatchi has his online explorations. in this information age you can get a lot of information online. you can getaccess, of course, through auctions. does money create taste? i don't doubtthat it does. i have to tell you that the name 'wall power' in terms of lookingat art, some people think of wall power as themoney that the art represents. i think of
wall power as being a creative energythat the artwork emanates. does it affect the way we look at things? i think itdoes. overcoming the doubt of the new is achallenge i'm constantly trying to come up with. i should say to you that the john currannude on the right was obviously a representation of the eve from lucaschronic going back hundreds and hundreds of years. for a long time i couldn'tfigure out what it was about, and i thought that i might actually likethe picture for the wrong reason. i mentioned that in passing when i had achance to talk to peter schjeldahl, the
art critic from the new yorker, who ithink is one of most thoughtful and poetic of reviewers. he said, "robert there canbe no wrong reason to like art. if you like it, you like it." i shouldalso tell you that one of the secrets of the art world is that, even if you are acommitted collector there is more money in the world then there is great art. if you accept the possibility that this painting on theright is one of those objects. i actually spent about five or six yearstalking and working with the gallery hoping that they would offer me a workof art, and when they called me and
finally told me that this work wasavailable i could not believe my lucky stars. there were probably 25people in new york alone who would jump at the chance to get a picture like this.the dealer told me i had one day, and i didn't need one day. i really only neededone heartbeat to say i wanted it. you don't always get it. this is aninteresting work by mike kelly, or a couple of works, in which he was playingoff of some ideas. i'm not going to try to elaborate them, but certainly he wastalking about childhood and cutesy and many other things. i just want to pointout to you that it's ok not to get things. one of the secrets of theart world is that museum support, which
is, i think, important, and i've worked onthe board of trustees of museums in washington and elsewhere, not only tosupport them, but to learn from their intellectual currency that they share inthe process of bringing you along as a trustee. museum support is beingseriously challenged by a new wave of new museums. this is one of the best that i've seen, the de la cruz museum in miami. just finishing its construction, this isthe interior that as you can see very spare, very beautiful, very white, veryopen. they allow collectors to have their own works in a private foundationor museum. the museums are often open to
the public by appointment and haveeducational outreach. this is another example, far more busy,also in miami, owned by marty margulies. you can see the monitor screens in themiddle of the video image of the artist whose work i actually cannot tell you. ithought it was fascinating and i didn't get the name. there is a question what lasts forever? of course that is the ultimatequestion. will the artwork last? not only be of its time and timely but transcendits time. i suggest to you in this adventure of looking that what you see is probablymore based upon what's behind your eyes
than what's in front of them. this is a reproduction of a billboard. fifty percent of the creative processis in the eyes of the viewer. this is a reproduction of a photograph. you probably know that it is the marlboro man. instantly marlboro being thebrand that needs no name to tell you what it is. i saw this by richard prince back in the80s when the appropriation art was something new, at least new to me. iasked a wonderful collector, who was much older and more experienced, how will thispicture look in 50 years, arthur? arthur goldberg said to me, "robert
it will look a lot better than you willin 50 years." he added the only way you're goingto find out how it's going to stand the test of time is to live with it. ihave, and i'm very glad that i did. this is a view of an installation -lawrence weiner, at the whitney museum of art. if i leave you with no other thought,that i hope will be helpful to you, it is that the mind can see farther than theeye and that your engagement in that regard will be rewarding. it can be areligious experience. these are damien hirst windows. i flew out to los angeles to see theshow fully expecting that the gesture
was so mannered and so baroque that itwould somehow not be compelling and convincing, and i have to tell you, i wasthrilled upon arrival to learn that i was wrong.it was enormously compelling it is a matter of faith, in terms ofbelieving, that you get that moment where you see something and it clicks and theworld looks differently. it's a hard place to get to but it's aworth the effort, and it can be an ecstatic journey. what we're looking athere is, of course, the ecstasy of st. theresa which is in rome at the cornaro chapel, santa maria della vittoria. it is a remarkable sculpture, and i encourage youas you try to advance your contemporary eye,
that you also stick with the classicswhich teaches every bit as much and more. the picture that i mentioned thati eventually got at the damien hirst show in los angeles is this butterfly picture.it is what they call a kaleidoscope picture because of the repetition. i was a little worried by all thecommercial hype that damien hirst was generating. i said to my sister "you know, with all damien's bravado i'mnot so sure about these butterfly pictures" and she said to me, "robert when have you ever heard the wordbutterfly and bravado on the same
sentence." the adventure of collecting for youis about seeing with the mind's eye. this is a picture made in the museum ofmodern art of jackson pollock. when he first started doing his pictures in thelate thirties and forties people didn't quite understand what it was about. ithink we now have come see that it's opened up enormous newworlds of possibilities. i hope that in the process you enjoy thejourney. speaking of the journey that cansometimes be enormously physical experience. this is a very poorphotograph of one of richard sarah's
huge sculptures. you can see by the scalein front of you that it is probably 18 feet tall. they are called torqued ellipses. asyou enter them you get to have the sense of beingsqueezed, then you move through them and all of a sudden you're aware that themateriality which makes physical impression upon you is balanced by thelight that comes down from above. this image is from james tourelles rodencrater, where you cannot walk up those stairs but you can see the light of theheavens coming through. a phenomenological work of art that ispart of the land art. i hope that this lecture has been something of anenlightening experience for you.
what you're looking at is a corner pieceby dan flavian. i was mesmerized by the colors that these tubes of fluorescentlight bathed the walls with the blue and the yellow and the merging colors. i want to say to you that art comes inand out of favor. our most cherished vermeer painter in his time was popular,than fell out of favor. these are two pictures. the one on theright actually is from the national gallery and you can see it there. i should point out you it even way backthen the masters were aware of the difference between the temporal riches,as you see the arrow directors your eye to the
table top which has both money, pearls,and the balance. in the background is in a image of jesus up in the heavensperhaps this is a and a reminder that the day of judgment will come, and howyou judge things will be based upon your core values and who you are. it is not always a walk in the park butit is often a very rewarding experience. as we close out you're looking atanother dan flavin and that is on the back side of the royal academy in london, in which you go up this grandstaircase and what would have been in that niche, i can't tell you.
we know generically it would besomething of the sort of a king or perhaps a duke or someone of power, butwhat in fact was placed there was another dan flavin. i viewed that astruly a startling secular annunciation. celebration of light and you can see howthe entire niche is colored with this ethereal light. this is a plaque from one of the truismsof jenny holster. i think it's true that finding extreme pleasure will make you abetter person if you're careful about what thrills you. that is the end ofthe secrets of the art world lecture. we were told there would be a short question andanswer period. i'm happy to linger
longer if you have pressing questions. anybody want to throw one out? break the ice? yes? well that's a good question. they are enormous, you would probablyneed to have a lot of land and a place where you could enjoy it outside. although you saw it actually in agallery if you can imagine it. the galleries in new york it was by nosurprise the gagosian gallery. i'm told that the cost of getting thoseworks in is in the seven figures. that's
what it costs to transport them and putthem. so your ambition you need to be aninstitution museum or an individual with the wherewithal that you can actuallyhave that amount of space that amount of light and that amount of budget to beable to get them where you want them. they are compelling experiences and ifyou do have a chance to see one i really recommend you go in them. one of my artists dealer friends thatmade the observation she said if the earth was revisited 30,000 years fromnow by some alien race, all they would need to know about the end of the 20thcentury could be discovered by going
through richard serra sculpture. shout it out, and i'll repeat your question. thank you very much, it was very interesting. i'mjust curious your earlier days of collectingart did the artwork actually get eventually get recognized, andappreciated at all? that's my first question. my secondquestion is i actually collect the african and the caribbean art, paintings. i actually have a website theworldartgallery.com i don't know, i just buy them.i go to galleries where i travel to those
countries, and i go to visit galleriesand shows to pick up things. i wonder whether there is a network ormarket here in washington or in the u.s. at all? i'm going to answer the first questionand say that whether a young artists work get seen and recognized andappreciated is dependent upon a number of very complex factors. i think themost important one is the quality of their creative input. it's my belief and my experience that, yes, young artists do get seen. they get seen, they get shown, they getwritten about, they get appreciated.
they do. in terms of your secondquestion i am not person to tell you how to network in art because i come at itfrom a different point of view. but certainly i believe there are manyavenues by which you can do so. i encourage you to explore them becausewith your interest you're likely to broaden your horizonsas well as those of people who share your interests. yes, the question was: are there artcritics that i read and pay attention to? i try to read as much as i can in artcriticism. my favorite, i've already mentioned, his name is peter schjeldahl, andhe writes for the new yorker. he is
enormously poetic. another art critic who,i think, is extraordinarily brilliant is named dave hickey. blade gutnick used towrite for the washington post and he's gone on to newsweek. he is very thoughtful. there are a numberof other art critics that i could mention, but rather than give you a longlist, those are three. certainly blake's brother adam gutnick, when hewrites about artist he's a genius. he's also very brilliant. he writes less about art that i wouldlike, but those are a number of my favorites. i used to love readingrobert hughes. he doesn't write anymore,
but i thought he had that sort of abovethe tree view of the art world. i learned a lot from reading him as well. well i can't speak about others. i thinkthat is true. the question is if i started out buying what i love did itchange as i got more experienced, and the effortbecame more researched? my mentor walter hops told me that thethree legs of the stool are always the same. first you have to fall in love, then youhave to do your homework, and third you have to pay a premium, above a high price,to get a great work of art. my art world
mentor aunt nathalie told me that if youlove the work of art you can never go wrong. if it goes up in value,people will think you're smart. if it stays what you paid for it, you gotthe benefit of the bargain that you made. if it goes down in value, and thatcan happen, as long as you love it then it doesn't really matter that it wentdown. so it is true that i do more homework, i do more research. part of theresearch is to get as much information as you can about the artist. artists havegood, better, best works and it's always important to make those kind ofdiscoveries. some of it is subjective, what you like the best.
but art will speak to you over time andyou learn the difference. one of the exercises that i try to do is when i gointo an art gallery and i look at a group of objects, whether it's by singleartist or many artists, whether it's an art gallery or an art museum, i look around and i say, which work do ilike the most, and why? it's an exercise in refining your eye. bydoing research, galleries have an incentive to help you to learn, but youultimately need to do it yourself. so while it has changed in terms of medoing more work, it hasn't changed in terms of i willnever buy anything that i don't love and
that i don't want to live with. the question is do i want to have my ownmuseum? the answer is absolutely not. i think washington has an enormouslyrich diversity of museums, and i am a team player. i do think that if someof my art is up to the standard that would be great if it could complementand be given as jim dimitri and suggested to the museum's of washington. i do not need to have my taste validatedby having my own museum. oh, joseph cornell is an artist whoi have long admired. my mentor walter hops brought me to his work while i waslooking at the young and the restless
artists in the eighties. i subsequently became fascinated bycornell's vast cosmology of ideas and eventually put together a group of boxesthat was based upon the notion that the sum of the boxes would be larger thanany individual part. so i do love and have collected cornell with an enormousrespect. the book and the dvd rom which i collaborated with the american artmuseum, here, was an attempt to reflect what i discovered in cornell's work. which was that you go through the looking glass, which i think is true inalmost any work of art, by a good or great artist and enter a whole nother cosmology of ideas that were as broad
a science, nature, poetry, dance, the arts in a broad array of interestingassociations. cornell is an artist who i think you can learn a lot if youhave the patience to not go for the bright shiny thing that peter schjeldahldescribed was the rage of the last decade, but to the more quiet clearcontemplative possibilities of the intimacy of his art, which has enormousmetaphorical range of possiblities. i used to have more work. the question is:do i have enough space to display all my artwork and is there a warehouse somewhere? the answer to that is no, and yes.
no i don't have enough space to displayall that, and yes there's a warehouse somewhere, but i have tried to live withthe art that i have because i really want it to be up. sometimes worksmove, they go to museums, on loan, they are rotated, and often that requiresyou to rehang an entire room. another secret quote unquote of theart world is that art will tell you where it wants to be. so that when onework of art leaves for whatever combination of reasons, perhaps a museumloan, the next work that comes in may create a game of musical chairs whereyou reshuffle everything. i'm not the type of collector that hasvast warehouses of art. i used to have
more of that and i have tried to tradeup with works, that if i can't enjoy them i try to find places where they can beseen or appreciated by way of sometimes getting two or three works and thengetting one, trading that for another work, or in some instances giving itto institutions that would like to have the work that i may no longer have thespace for. any other questions? well, the voyager foundation wascreated to do educational art projects. the first of which was the josephcornell book and the dvd -rom and the next project that the foundation isgoing to do i'm hoping is a book that
will follow some of the course of ideasthat we were looking at tonight. the question is: have i everconsidered aquiring contemporary art from china or other emerging markets? i have very actively considered that. i find it one of the more challenging,and for me at the moment, unclear directions. part of my logicis that i don't think that i have enough understanding of the issues that thosesocieties have gelled in the artist to truly appreciate their work. i'veseen it because it has become a very, chinese art is big. it's in the art market, it is in thegalleries, in the auctions. i have to say
this is not meant as a criticism it isjust meant as a description that i find much of that work grotesque. i don't understand thesocial backstory that generates this and it doesn't resonate with me. so because idon't love it and haven't yet fully come to understand it, i have not tried to collect it. but i doactively look at it and i should tell you that i found it more and moreinteresting with time. it is not without considerable interest but i have notbought any myself. i'm glad you brought that up.
i don't think that art is a goodfinancial investment to the average person. it's sort of like the bestknowledge i can give you is going to the racetrack. don't go to the racetrack to try to makemoney, go to have a good time and if you happen to pick a winner, that's great. art is very expensive,it costs money to maintain, you have to ensure it. the works of art that you saw here havebeen reported on by the press because they represent the very small percentageof art that has been financially
successful. the thing that it does give you isunlimited dividends of joy if you love it. i don't mean to say, and i put that upthere intentionally so i'm very grateful to you for mentioning it, i don't mean to say that art can't be agood financial investment. it is an alternative asset class, but i would tellyou that it is a very risky one. one that you should not, i think, enterexpecting to get those kind of rewards. any more than you could go into thestock market and pick a startup company
now and predicted that will be the nextgoogle or facebook. that's not to say it can't be, just that i don't think itis what i would call a good one. it's a great one if you pickthe right horse. well i think reproductions aregreat in terms of allowing you to be inspired. every college kidhas a story about how the reproductions were up on their wall and that reallygot them to thinking. so i think it's wonderful. i think it has enormouspossibilities. in terms of my own experience, i came from that. yeah, wheni was a college kid i had reproductions up. i can't exactly remember what theywere,
however as a collector i'm reallyinterested in the artists hand and the gesture. the notion of reproductions for me issomething that i may have moved through, but i think it's fabulous. you have to have an enormouscuriosity to be a in a position to have a mentor. i think you need to make the kind ofcommitment to spend time with a person and then you need to figure out who thatperson is and where they they might be. part of it is luck, it was, ithappened to be that i've had many
mentors, several, i should say not many. it is a product of being in themuseum community. somebody you start a conversation with over a period oftime you learned that there's an awful lot you can do. walter hops when he would come to town, iwould take a vacation day for my job and just drive him around because i wantedto learn from him. by creating that space of time which was very unorthodox, i had a chance to build a rapport withhim i was friendly with people he was friendly with, and he saw my interests incornell. much to my delight, i learned
that after i did the cornell dvd-rom,which was largely an attempt to express what i've learned from him and on my own. i later learned, although he didn't tellme this but one of his friends did, that he was enormously proud of me. that i hadlearned what he had tried to share with me and that it reflected in a way thathe was pleased about. it comes out, i think first, from yourpassion, a shared interest, and being willing to do the work, and put the time in, and hopefully a lucky coincidence of access to people of kindred spirit andinterest. i have found that the great people in any profession respect andadmire that kind of interest in our
willing to reciprocate it to help you tofollow the path. your path as they have followed there's. all right well i thankyou very much for your time.