Art Fair, Travel

A Trip with Mr. Essl

It was a privilege to travel to Marfa, Texas with Mr. Essl, founder of the Essl Museum in Vienna. Last week he and wife Agnes who have been collecting together for fifty years made the announcement that their entire collection of 6,000 plus paintings and art objects will be given to the Albertina Museum, Vienna for a twenty-five year loan and will be on continuous display starting the fall of 2018 at the newly renovated Künstler Haus, annexed to the Albertina. 

It has been an honor to engage with their collection on several levels, especially being invited to curate the “New.NewYork” exhibition there in 2012. Their passion for collecting and working with artists has been a great inspiration to me and we have been able to enjoy dozens of studio visits together over the years on several different continents. It was fascinating to immerse myself in Judd’s vision for a second time; even thought I have seen his work in many different contexts, seeing his comprehensive vision played out at the Donald Judd and Chinati Foundation is just profound. The idea of leaving an art work in a permanent environment, not moving or changing anything in his studios, as well as being lit by daylight only, is a striking contrast to the transitory life many of us live. 

After the experiencing the Donald Judd and Chinati Foundation tours, Mr. Essl and I drove south along the Mexican border, which follows the Rio Grande for about fifty miles. The beautiful landscape of the Big Bend National Park has many stops and hiking trails with interesting views. The stunning desert landscape is a timeless, apt setting for Judd’s vision. Time will tell where and how the new wall will affect this gorgeous terrain, not to mention how it will impact the local communities and our country at large. 

Back in New York, we transitioned to the frantic environment of the art fairs: The Armory Show, Art on Paper, Volta, NADA, The Independent and Spring Break. So great to be among friends and explore new art from around the world. It really does feel like we travel in packs. Always great to connect with artists, curators and collectors working in different parts of the world. Please say hi to Mr Essl and I at ART Basel Hong Kong coming up in a few weeks! 

The highlight of Mr. Essl trip was our being warmly welcomed at the Ayn Foundation at Mana Contemporary by Fred Moeller. We toured the wonderful long term display of Arnulf Rainer’s ‘Angels and Crosses’, as well as early silkscreens by Andy Warhol from the Das Maximum and Ayn Foundation. It was also a rare treat to see John Chamberlain color photographs from the early 1990’s. Our visit included an impromptu meeting with architect Richard Meier, designer of the otherworldly Getty Museum, Los Angeles at his company archive. Mr. Meier’s presence as he described and talked about some of his favorite models, was truly enriching and a once in a lifetime experience!