The Wall Street Journal gives us a window into Edward Albee’s art collection by touring his Tribeca loft:
An elevator opens into a corner of one enormous room with exposed brick walls, white-painted wooden beam ceilings as high as 30 feet in one section and wood floors. There are three separate sitting areas in the main room, each with modest, contemporary brown leather or suede furniture that serves as a backdrop to paintings by artists like Wassily Kandinsky, Marc Chagall and Edouard Vuillard as well as African masks and tactile sculptures. In the kitchen, a 1905 Picasso painting and a 2009 Rob Nadeau sculpture share a wall above a floor scattered with cat toys. Down the hall, past a dusty wine rack with French reds, are an office and another guest room.
A narrow red metal spiral staircase in the main room leads up to second floor where Mr. Albee sleeps beneath a Milton Avery painting and facing a giant flat-screen television. […] “It’s very simple,” says Robert Storr, dean of the Yale School of Art and a friend. “Collecting can be competitive and about impressing people who come to your house. Ed doesn’t have anything to prove.”
Mr. Albee, who lives in Manhattan half the year and also has homes in Montauk, N.Y., and Coconut Grove, Fla., insists he is an art accumulator who buys for pleasure, not a collector, and says he has no idea what his art is worth. Like his plays—known for their biting dialogue and sometimes discomforting subject matter—he’s attracted to works he feels aren’t sanitized to appeal to popular taste. He gives the example of a green Chagall painting of a woman holding a feather pen in one of the sitting areas. He says it is an early work, “before Chagall turned into a guy who copied his earlier stuff.”
He also explains that utilitarian art—he owns over 100 pieces—had an enormous influence on artists in the 20th century. “That’s why it’s so beautiful to have the African pieces right next to a Kandinsky. They teach each other,” he said.
In New York he goes to the theater, though he says nothing he sees is any good—sometimes he leaves in the middle. “All serious art is being destroyed by commerce. Most people don’t want art to be disturbing. They want it to be escapist. I don’t think art should be escapist. That’s a waste of time,” Mr. Albee said.
Edward Albee’s Private Stage (Wall Street Journal)