By the standards of today’s private art collections, Paul Allen’s 300 works is not that big. But his ambitions for promoting art in Seattle are. He’s the driving force behind the Seattle Art Fair, opening tomorrow, and has recently hired a curator to do something interesting in his new Brain Science research center:
Pivot Art + Culture will be a 4,000 square foot, two room gallery located in the Allen Institute for Brain Science, a research facility that the venture capitalist and philanthropist is developing on the edge of downtown Seattle in the South Lake Union neighborhood. Scheduled to open in December, it is intended to be a cultural magnet in an area known as a tech and bio-medical hub.
“It’s a marvelous job and I’m extremely excited about it,” Heywood said, adding. “Allen is a great guy with extremely deep pockets and I think we can do some very exciting things here.”
Heywood is still developing Pivot’s program but said it will combine pieces from Allen’s collection with the kind of experimental art that he worked with at The Soap Factory, the unconventional Minneapolis visual and performing arts space he ran for nearly 13 years prior to taking the Seattle job.
“It will combine alternative programming with traditional museum practices,” Heywood said. “We want to produce exhibitions that people like and enjoy that also have great artistic integrity.”
With that in mind, perhaps it is worth a refresher on Allen’s collection from Blake Gopnik who was all too happy to gawp at the prices when he worked for Newsweek:
Look around and you spot two gorgeous Calders on a table nearby. Glance through a door and you see one of Rodin’s casts of The Thinker; walk through it and you take in Giacometti’s bronze Femme de Venise, worth maybe $5 million, as well as a lovely Monet landscape that could have cost several times that.[…]
He mentions that his collecting began with antiquities. It moved forward to the Renaissance and a beautiful Madonna by Sandro Botticelli, which he’s already lent out. And of course he’s got impressionists: tony pictures such as Monet’s great Rouen Cathedral: Afternoon Effect, as well as a Renoir painting of a woman reading that last sold for $13 million.
Both of those, as well as a $40 million Gauguin and a lovely pointillist Seurat, were in a show of 28 Allen works put on in his Seattle music museum, Experience Music Project. The collection comes more up to date with that1956 Rothko, and with contemporary works that Allen now mentions, such asa canvas covered in spots by Damien Hirst.