Monday, January 4, 2016


Philippe Parreno and Rirkrit Tiravanija's Puppets (2009)
What do renowned art collectors do once they have amassed a huge collection? For some collectors establishing a museum in their name is the answer,  but for Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner their recent gift of more than eight hundred and fifty works to the Whitney Museum of American Art, celebrates an extraordinary exhibit through March 6, 2026. The Centre Pompidou's exhibtion follows the New York presentation, opening in Paris on June 8, 2016..
     For more than 30 years, Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner have devoted themselves to the passion of art collecting and the exhibition unveils this remarkable gift with a diverse mix of genres, themes and period pieces. The collectors have consistently focused their attention on emerging artists, acquiring works soon after they were created, often straight out of the artists' studios. 
Ethan Wagner & Thea Westreich Wagner
      Adam D. Weinberg, the Whitney's Alice Pratt Brown Director, noted, "We are delighted to present this exhibition in honor of the magnanimous gift of art we received from Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner--one of the largest in the Whitney's history and a tremendous statement of support for the Museum and its new building. Thea and Ethan are among the most astute collectors of late twentieth century and early twenty-first-century art and their gift adds enormous strength to the Whitney's collection."

    Ms. Westreich Wagner and Mr. Wagner noted, "We are thrilled that audiences will be able to experience these exhibitions at the Whitney and Pompidou. These are works by artists whom we deeply admire and want to share with the world." The exhibition explores ideas and themes that recur in the collection across generations, mediums, and nationalities. In some cases the works exhibit a rebellious or subversive spirit, and they are variously infused with iron and humor.
     Among the works shown in the exhibition are Robert Gober's The Ascending Sink (1985); Bernadette Corporation's Creation of a False Feeling (2000); Richard Prince's Nancy to her Girlfriend (1988); Diane Arbus's Puerto Rican woman with a beauty mark, N.Y.C. (1965); Christopher Wool's Incident on 9th Street (1997); Hto Steyer's Red Alert (2007; Matis Faldbakken's Untitled (Locker Sculpture #01) (2010) and much more.

The collectors book collaboration, Collecting Art for Love and More (Phaidon), has a two-fold message. It is at once a lively and accessible history of art collecting and at the same time is a best practices guide for budding collectors. The authors do not deny the importance of shrewd investment sense when it comes to collecting. It's clear that they cherish their role in financially supporting working artists and their opportunity to crate a legacy. In addition to the 800 works gifted to the Whitney, their personal holdings include works by Jenny Holzer, Jeff Koons, Dan Flavin, Richard Prince, Jan Manuska and more works on their apartment walls by artists like Christopher Wood and James Beckett to name a few.
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