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The Golden Age of Russian Impressionism

89 Top Art Collectors

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8. Hank and Mary Beckman

Hank and Mary Beckman collect a variety of work: traditional western, Russian Impressionist, contemporary western, and some of the old illustrators. They have been collecting art for 25 years now and have 57 paintings and 17 sculptures. Some of which have been dispersed among their four children and eight grandchildren. They have collected 27 different artists, and every piece is special to them and their family. Often these pieces hold a great story as to where or how or when the purchase was made. For example, when they saw Xiang Zhang’s paintings, they knew that he knew how to put horses in the proper lead, and that really impressed them. Plus they like his brush strokes, and there is a lot of action in his paintings.

“Most important of all, we buy a piece we like. We visit two galleries in particular. I like to pick the brains of the staff at Southwest Gallery in Dallas and at McLarry Fine Art in Santa Fe. They also enjoy the art shows, particularly the Prix de West, where there is such an assembly of talent in one place. It is a real kick to visit with the artists whose work we are buying” (Beckman).
The first major purchase was a piece by Xiang Zhang. Presently they own 15 of his pieces, from ballerinas to cowboys. Their last two purchases have been Poteet Victory. At first his work appears modern, but to the Beckman’s it also has a western and spiritual feel. They have met Poteet, and he is not only a great artist but a great horseman as well. They are hoping to acquire a work by Kyle Polzin and probably another Poteet Victory.







9. Joe Berardo

He had been an inveterate collector since his childhood and it was in the early 1980s that he began his first art collection, although his first purchase was in 1969, when he bought a print of the Mona Lisa in a furniture shop in Johannesburg, thinking that it was an original. He was self-taught and his interest in the arts was born in South Africa, when he began to visit museums, galleries and homes of friends with interests in culture. Dazzled by works of art that were a novelty to him, he organized his first collection himself. He concentrated on pre- and post-apartheid South-African works and the idea was to gather testimony to the art produced during the dictatorship and the new freedom and put together a collection reflecting the political and social views of the time. This cultural involvement awakened another passion, which was nature.

The 1990s were marked essentially by the growth of his collection of modern and contemporary art. With the help of Francisco Capelo, who was in charge of acquisitions and initial organization, the collection began to take shape. The original idea was to set up an international contemporary art collection along traditional historiographic and chronological lines as a methodical illustration of the successive currents, trends and lines of research and work in Europe and the United States from the end of the Second World War to the present day. Organizing the collection in chronological blocks by tendency would be the normal structure of an art history book in the second half of the 20th century.

The collection would therefore first focus on works from the post-war period beginning in 1945, given the substantial changes in main centers of artistic production and the appearance of new movements coming mostly from the United States and influencing European art.

The choice was an extensive, comprehensive chronological collection rather than one based on personal taste, a more specific, theoretic point of view or greater specialization in a particular area, trend or current. Berardo’s idea was not to close doors in the collection, but to leave it open to different choices, interpretations and outlooks. This choice was mainly due to the collection’s necessarily museological nature and the didactic importance that it would take on in Portugal.

The works were purchased at auctions or from galleries. In some cases, when certain galleries were experiencing financial difficulties, it was even possible to buy works from the gallery owners’ personal collections, which explains the quality of the Arte Povera section. In other cases, gallery owners managed to get access to works from artists’ own private collections. The collection today has special relationships with galleries all over the world.

The collection was seen for the first time in Portugal at Galeria Valentim de Carvalho in Lisbon in 1993. Boasting emblematic works by names such as Arman, Balthus, Lúcio Fontana, Nicolas de Staël and Vieira da Silva, it was still a pale reflection of what the collection would become. This first showing was basically an attempt to sound out the public’s reaction.







10. Stephanie and Bill Birdall

Stephanie Birdall was drawn into art at a very young age since her parents were collectors. She grew up going to auctions with them. In her twenties, Stephanie worked at the American Illustrators Gallery in Atlanta and bought her first thing there. As a family Bill and Stephanie have been collecting art since they have been married, which is twenty years.

When looking for art to add to their collection, Stephanie tries to find art that she can learn from, especially since she is an artist. Consequently, Stephanie knows all of the artists in which she purchased art from. Within the past year, they have purchased a Sherrie McGraw and a Nancy Guzik. They were both painted in Stephanie Birdalls Studio and she watched them do them.







11. Leon Black

Billionaire New York financier, the Chairman and Chief Executive of Apollo Global Management, Leon Black has emerged as the mysterious $120 million buyer of the renowned Norwegian Expressionist artist Edward Munch’s ‘The Scream’, a highly coveted masterpiece.

Black also reportedly paid $47.6 million in 2009 for Raphael’s chalk masterpiece. Leon Black’s $750 million art collection already boats drawings by Raphael and Vincent Van Gogh, and Cubists paintings by Pablo. 





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