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    Simon Says Collect
by Simon Watson
 
     
 
Andy Collins
Untitled
1999
 
Andy Collins
Untitled
1998
 
Monique Prieto
Want Ad
1999
 
Monique Prieto
Naturally
1999
 
Monique Prieto
Poker Face
1998
 
Laura Owens
Untitled
1998
 
Laura Owens
Untitled
1998
 
Laura Owens
Untitled
1998
 
Despite the incredible variety of cutting-edge art on the market today, abstract painting continues to hold the interest of collectors, curators and other art lovers. Several abstract painters have established a following for their works in the past few years. We talked with some of the collectors who are buying their paintings.

John Says
Since the early '80s, John Sacchi has been collecting and championing new artists. Equally comfortable looking at abstract paintings or conceptual art, Sacchi recently bought a work by Andy Collins from Massimo Audiello, whose gallery is located in the Chelsea Arts Building on West 26th Street.

Sacchi characterizes Collins' work as "basically chunky color field, both formalist and computer-generated. The surfaces are very slick and the colors are kind of new -- lavender, mauve and mint -- strange colors I'd never seen before. It has a very 21st-century feel."

"I think of Peter Halley when I look at Collins' work," Sacchi said. "Halley went above and beyond his intellectual approach to art, and Collins' work does that also. There's an affinity there between them. But you know, eventually, it becomes formal, they all become closet Formalists.

"I saw Collins' work at his first solo show last year and decided to buy it," Saachi said. Collins' prices range from $3,000 to $10,000.

For more about Andy Collins, visit Audiello Fine Arts, 526 W. 26th Street, New York, N.Y. 10001.

Matt Says
A record executive based in Los Angeles, Matt Aberle began collecting in 1994 with a focus on emerging artists from the city and its surround, such as painters Monique Prieto and Laura Owens. Prieto has made a splash with idiosyncratic color abstractions whose simple shapes have the undeniable feel of a computer mouse -- a line that is part human, part machine. As for Owens, her large paintings are simple and lyrical, often having the effect of fine-art confectionery.

"For me it's got to be love at first sight," said Aberle. "The most important thing for me is the work -- the individual piece must speak to me." Aberle acquired a small painting by Prieto from her show at Acme gallery in 1998. "It almost looks like a submarine on the bottom of the ocean," he commented. "I bought this work because I thought it was the best one in the show.

"Monique is a really consistent artist in that she's always evolving while maintaining a common thread in her work." Prieto's paintings are priced at $3,500 to $20,000.

Aberle owns several works by Owens, who, he says, "seems to experiment with every new body of work." He goes on: "One of the Laura Owens' paintings I have is a tie-dye canvas with acrylic relief -- sort of a color field piece. It's completely different than my other painting by her, which is completely black. With Laura Owens you never know what you're going to get, she's always changing. I have five works on paper by her in my collection and they're all completely different."

Galleries like Acme and Blum and Poe, Aberle said, are good at working with beginning collectors. "They spent the time to show me a lot of different work, to allow me to educate myself, which is important for anyone starting out," he noted. These galleries also encourage collectors by allowing them to spread payments out over time. "I was 25 when I began collecting," Aberle said, "and at the time I didn't have much money." Owens paintings are priced at $3,500 to $20,000.

For more about Monique Prieto, visit Acme, 6150 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, Ca., or Pat Hearn Gallery, 530 W. 22nd Street, New York, N.Y. 10011. For more about Laura Owens, visit Acme or Gavin Brown's Enterprise, 436 W. 15th Street, New York, N.Y. 10013.

Herb and Leonor Schorr Say
When asked about the art scene today, scientist Herb Schorr quoted the art historian Gombrich, who said, "This has not been the arts century. The contribution of science has been quantum mechanics, DNA and relativity and the best that art could do was produce an inverted urinal.

"We were very active collectors in the 1980s, but when the tide moved towards conceptual art in the '90s we just stepped out and devoted ourselves to collecting African art," Schorr said. "What brought us back was getting excited about these young Californians. We haven't seen it like this for 18 years, I think there's a flowering of painting right now."

Schorr noted that he and his wife Leonor were also big fans of the young abstractionists Monique Prieto and Laura Owens. "We saw our first Monique Prieto work at Acme, and it sort of stuck in our heads. Later when we saw her solo show at Pat Hearn Gallery, we were ready to go. We bought a piece from her 1999 Acme show and then a piece on re-sale which had been in Pat's show." Prieto has mastered what she's doing, Schorr said, producing a consistent body of work that is on a par with the best color field painters. Schorr continued: "There's a precision of color -- that's the part that's quite good about her."

"We first saw Laura Owens in a group show at Regan Projects when she was just out of graduate school. She's really developed since then. She's willing to take risks. Some things are very successful and others are less so, but she surprises me constantly. She's an experimenter trying to push the boundary. Our Owens is the green one in the Carnegie International right now. It's a relatively small painting and it's really a gem.

"Unfortunately, it's getting a little like the late '80s again in the sense that everyone is now trying to buy so it's getting harder to get what you want and prices are going up rather dramatically. I didn't think we'd ever see the '80s again, but there it is."


SIMON WATSON is editor of Simon Says, the monthly guide to contemporary art and experimental performance in New York, and director of Downtown Arts Projects, an arts education nonprofit that produces the annual Downtown Arts Festival and LA Edge Festival.

In the bookstore:
Peter Halley: Maintain Speed

Carnegie International 1999/2000