A Collector's Eye is an exhibition of paintings from the Schorr Collection assembled by a private collector, and it opens at the Walker Art Gallery next week. The exhibition promises to feature five centuries of art ranging from 15th-century devotional images to 19th-century French Impressionist landscapes. Old Master artists Rubens, El Greco, Delacroix and Cranach are included alongside Impressionists such as Pissarro and Sisley.
It’s an interesting departure from the on going trend for exhibitions based upon extremely didactic concepts, an emphasis on telling art as a heavy handed biographical or teleological story I've always round annoying. Some might find a basis in the personal tastes of a private collector problematic, but I hope the selection of works in an exhibition curated along these principals will be much closer to the diverse and changing relationship with art that most of us have.
The organisers also ask the question, what would be in your dream art collection? and I feel compelled to day-dream up an answer.
To start with, if we are allowed to get greedy, can I have a couple of the Marie de’ Medici cycle by Rubens (1577-1640)? If I had to pick just one, give me The Disembarkation at Marseilles (1622-25), deliciously dripping with allegory and bursting with bizarre perspective and plentiful cavorting sea maidens. In a skinny-obsessed world I find the expanses of doughy flesh positively refreshing!
I’d follow this with a healthy slice of Victorian life which a complete de-emphasis on the bloody Pre-Raphaelites. Give me some monkeys and polar bears by Edwin Landseer (1802-1873) and my favourite Polar pin-up Sir James Clark Ross (painted in 1834) looking young and dashing in a dead animal’s skin. Throw in some late J M W Turner (1775-1851) too, to dazzle and shimmer.
Next I would like to get a little patriotic and whimsical, and place the illustrations of John Bauer (1882-1918), Tove Jansen (1914-2001) and Elsa Beskow (1874-1953) next to each other - a delightful flock of trolls, fairies and woodland creatures. Equally whimsical, I’d compliment the visual dreams of Odilon Redon (1840-1916) with the Art Deco graphical delights of Edouard Benedictus (1879-1930).
What else? Getting a little more modern, let’s have a healthy serving of Graham Sutherland (1903-1980) and Paul Nash (1889-1946) - skipping over anything too war-focussed for some of their lovely organic-architectural fantasies.
I’d also pinch Eduardo Paolozzi’s (1924-2005) Collage from BUNK from the Tate Modern, and ship Frida Khalo’s (1907-1954) Self-portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird over from the US.
To round things off give me Rodney Graham’s (1949- ) Rheinmetall/Victoria 8, and finally all on it’s own in a big blue room, in absolute pride of place, let's enjoy Henri Rousseu’s (1844-1910) languorous Sleeping Gypsy.
I could go on... but it’s a little akin to torture. Like most people my art collection is just a hodgepodge assortment of tattered posters and prints... *sigh*
Collector's Eye is at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 18 February to 15 May 2011