de Saisset Museum

South Bay's free museum of art and history

The Eclectic Eye: Works from a Private Collection

September 26 - December 4, 2009

The recent issues of ARTnews magazine featured "the world's top two hundred collectors." For those included, art collecting is a narrow and focused endeavor; most have an area of specialization, for example, Impressionism, and their goal is to obtain the best and most valuable examples available.

The Eclectic Eye reflects a different concept of collecting, a family collection that has evolved over two generations, for pleasure rather than acquisition. The initial focus of this collection was the cadre of prominent artists who experimented with graphic arts at Gemini Graphics Editions, Ltd., an innovative publishing workshop in Los Angeles. As early subscribers to the workshop, the family was able to acquire prints by some of the acknowledged modern masters of twentieth century art. Artists such as Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, and David Hockney applied their skills to lithography and silkscreen, with spectacular results. But the collection also included sculpture and works from other cultures, such as Pre-Columbian art.

Over the course of time, the collection grew to include Op Art (by Bridget Riley and others), Native American art, and photography. Since there was no specific focus for acquisitions, the collectors added works that appealed to them as objects of beauty and for their visual interest and impact. Later additions included several Bay Area artists (such as Matt Kahn and Sam Francis) and artists from both the American Southwest, and the Pacific Northwest.

Collecting art is, ultimately, a highly personal pursuit. The Eclectic Eye offers us a rare glimpse into one family's collection, where art is acquired not for the purpose of accumulation but as a means of enjoyment.

The de Saisset Museum would like to thank the private collector for the loan of these important works.

— Sheryl Nonnenberg, Guest Curator