Carol Kino’s New York Times story on the Fisher’s art collection beginning to see the light of day at SFMoMA has this interesting comment about collectors and collecting:
As Allan Schwartzman, a veteran Manhattan art adviser and curator, observed, many major collectors these days are “thinking about immortality.” The Fishers’ art, which he has seen often, is “one of the great collections assembled in our time,” he added, but the couple “always wanted to maintain their privacy.”
Robert Fisher, their eldest son, added that their silence was also motivated by the idea that “there was no real benefit to the company or anybody else for my parents to talk much about it publicly.”
It’s not clear how the Fishers plans to build their own museum on the Presidio fits with this privacy theme but Schwartzman does make a good point about collectors seeking to outlive their temporal enjoyment of their art.
Robert Fisher said his father “just loved the fact that they were able to share with a company so dependent on creativity something so creative.” But the origins of the collection were less lofty. When the couple began buying, a few years after they opened their first store in San Francisco in 1969, their aim was merely to brighten up the office, then located in suburban Burlingame, and their acquisitions were limited to prints — although they were good ones, by the likes of Robert Motherwell, Louise Nevelson and David Hockney. But by the time the company went public in 1976, the Fishers had been bitten by the collecting bug, and their ambitions grew in tandem with their fortunes.
“They made very careful selections on their own,” said Mr. Glimcher, who began working with them early on, when contemporary-art collectors were rare. And when the Fishers got hooked on an artist, he added, they usually collected the full range of an oeuvre, which “makes the collection unique.”
Private Collection Becomes Very Public (New York Times)