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Key takeaways

1. Presents a taste of the collecting appetites of four creative couples: KAWS & Julia Chiang, Mickalene Thomas & Racquel Chevremont, Eric Fischl & April Gornik, John Currin & Rachel Feinstein

2. With the lingering question, “What does your collection say about you?” the exhibition reflects and challenges our expectations of each of the four collecting couples


Jan 28 - Mar 8, 2020


New York Academy of Art

New York Academy of Art

New York



Derrick Adams

Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Wendy Artin

Ross Bleckner

Giovanni Boldini

Francesco Clemente

Willem van de Velde the Younger

Cornelia Foss

Mark Hemming

Judy Hudson

Jorg Immendorff

Susan Te Kahurangi King

Jill Musnicki

Alice Neel

Jean Pagliuso

Ebony G. Patterson


Joyce Pensato

Ellen Phelan

Alexis Rockman

New York City / Warren, Connecticut

Auguste Rodin

Peter Saul

San Francisco

Catherine Tafur

Sim Tomer

Lucy Winton

Francesca Woodman


We reveal ourselves in part by the objects in our lives. Our homes are filled with things that speak suggestively to who we are, such as our books, music and art collections. It is not uncommon to enter someone’s home and find yourself looking at a library or record collection and thinking, “I wouldn’t have pegged him for an Ian McEwan fan,” or “Taylor Swift… really?”

An artist’s collection is particularly revealing. Do they collect art like their own or work that seems to challenge their beliefs? Are they trading with friends or buying at auction? Are they only collecting names or are they supporting underrepresented colleagues?

Collectouples presents a taste of the collecting appetites of four creative couples. The fact that these pairs are all artists or curators, heightens our awareness of the negotiations that happen when two artistic people shape some aspect of their coupled identity through the art they love. Is this a shared vision? Is there always agreement when they collect? Who has the final say?

KAWS & Julia Chiang have included a masterful Peter Saul painting. You can easily see the connection between KAWS and Saul; a legacy of distortion and wicked wit. One of the things that KAWS did upon achieving success was to collect work by artists he admired and Peter Saul was clearly one of them.

Mickalene Thomas & Racquel Chevremont have lent works by Derrick Adams and Ebony G. Patterson in their selections. Both artists use installation, assemblage, and collage to create searing portraits of the underrepresented. Raucous color and jewel-like surfaces dominate Patterson’s work creating a hallucinatory experience for the viewer, while Adams’ images of Black Americans at leisure posits that even laying on a beach towel can be a political act.

Eric Fischl & April Gornik are showing eighteen pieces from their collection. Hung salon-style to heighten the democratic nature of their collection, they have included an extraordinary range from museum-quality pieces by August Rodin, Alice Neel, and Francesco Clemente to a piece by their longtime assistant, Catherine Tafur, which suggests that their choices are not just a declaration of their aesthetics, but an opportunity to express their support for artists in whom they believe.

Among the pieces from John Currin & Rachel Feinstein is a Willem van de Velde drawing that reminded Currin of a reproduction he grew up with as a child. The nautical nature of the van de Velde seems to have no connection to either Currin or Feinstein’s work, but you can imagine the thrill of owning an original after living with a reproduction for so long. As a result, there is a familial thread woven into their collection.

Collectouples presents work that reflects and challenges our expectations about each of the four collecting couples. There are contemporary and historical masterpieces; emerging, under-known and outsider artists; friends, colleagues and creative precedents. There are unexpected surprises and no-brainers, but above all there is the lingering question, “What does your collection say about you?”

- Peter Drake, Provost

Collectouples is sponsored by AXA XL, Cadogan Tate, and 108 Leonard.