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Collecting Art

Everything I Could Ever Tell You About…

By September 2007Comments

Photograph by Sara Stathas

NAME: Jeanne Klein | AGE: 62 | HOMETOWN: Austin | QUALIFICATIONS: Serves on the museum council of the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin and on the boards of Artpace San Antonio and ArtLies, in Houston / Together with her husband, Mickey, has been named for five straight years to ARTnews magazine’s list of the two hundred top collectors in the world

• I came from Amarillo. There was no museum. There was no art gallery. There was nothing. But I knew I had a little feeling for art. Every time I saw it, it made my heart pound.

• The first art I bought was as a student at UT. I don’t remember the name of the artist, but it was a woman’s figure from a life-drawing class. It cost nothing—like $30. I basically never stopped buying after that.

• Mickey and I met through art. A person called me up and said, “We’ve just met someone who likes art as much as you do. Would you want a date with him?” And I said, “Absolutely.” Our first date, we stayed up all night talking about art. Mrs. de Menil actually said to me one time, “I love the way you and Mickey act around art. It reminds me of John and me, because you both have the same intensity.”

• If it doesn’t move you physically, you don’t buy it. We were in London once, and I walked into a room and saw an Ellsworth Kelly and almost felt like I might faint.

• First we started with paintings. Then we got into photography—it was so hot. Then sculpture. The past few years we’ve been buying a lot of drawings. I’m really loving the hand of the artist.

• So many people have it wrong that you can only buy fine art in New York. That’s ridiculous. Everyone should go to their local galleries. Local galleries have local artists, yes, but they also bring in artists from other countries. The art world has changed, because now the world is flat.

• We usually buy living artists— the art that’s being made today. That’s always been our passion, because it’s about what’s happening in the world.

• I don’t have designated places in my homes, as a lot of collectors do, where you go and look at the art. I want to walk through the hallways and enjoy the art at all times. When I’m having people over, I have to clean every room, even the bathrooms, because I have art there too. When you go to the bathroom, you see The Dancing Flowers.

• There was a Louise Bourgeois piece. It was going to be the most expensive art we had ever bought. She called it her totem poles, and it was made out of all this balsa wood that she had painted red. It was kind of fragile. And at the time, we had two big dogs; one was a Lab with a great big tail. Mickey said, “We just can’t buy it, because Sasha’s gonna knock the thing over.” So we let it get away. We both regretted it for a long time.

• I don’t think you can stop collecting. It’s a part of you.

• When was the last time I bought a piece? Yesterday.

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