Peter Brant seems to have an odd sense of timing. Just as he launches on the most public display of his well-known art collection by opening The Brant Foundation Art Study Center in Greenwich, CT, his domestic life devolves into a tabloid divorce war with his famous model wife camped out in the maid’s quarters. Lindsay Pollack offers a miniature profile of the man as collector on Bloomberg:
“I am very proud we could put this all together,” said Brant, whose varied titles include publisher, paper manufacturer, real-estate developer and polo champion. “I think open-minded people who are interested in art will really like this.”
Brant, who at 62 still has thick black hair and bushy eyebrows, certainly isn’t cowed by his stuffy Greenwich neighbors. Last month he installed a 20-foot-tall bronze sculpture by Paul McCarthy showing Santa Claus holding a giant sex toy on the center’s front lawn. And Brant looked perfectly at ease standing in front of “Nice ‘n Easy,” a seductive John Currin painting featuring two lithe blond nudes that he bought for $5.5 million last year at Sotheby’s in New York. [ . . . ]
Brant began collecting art at the age of 19, and soon befriended Warhol, dealer Leo Castelli and other insiders in Manhattan’s downtown art scene. He now devotes as much time to his art interests as he does to his paper business, which has been hurt by troubles in the newspaper industry. “The newsprint business sucks recently,” Brant said.
His art center, which opened on May 10, is housed in a converted 1902 stone barn on property adjacent to the Greenwich Polo Club, which Brant founded in 1981. Brant also helped develop Conyers Farm, a 1,500-acre parcel of Greenwich farmland that’s been divided into 10-acre estates. The center’s architect, Richard Gluckman, designed a series of naturally lighted galleries where Brant plans to mount exhibitions drawn from his 1,000-piece collection along with works borrowed from artists, museums and private collectors.
Brant personally curated the inaugural exhibition [ . . . ] an homage to the late Metropolitan Museum of Art curator Henry Geldzahler, who mounted an influential show in 1969 that enthralled Brant and transformed him into a “collecting crazy man,” he said. [ . . . ] The center is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday by appointment. So far, 800 requests for visits have been received, according to Allison Brant, Peter’s daughter and the center’s director and tour guide.
The current show runs through February 2010. The next exhibit, scheduled to open next spring, will showcase Swiss artist Urs Fischer.