Felix Salmon has an important story in Departures magazine about the creation of the Dallas Cowboy stadium art collection. Advisor Mary Zlot deserves much of the credit for organizing the 16 or so commissions by artlsts like Teresita Fernandez. As Salmon ably explains, the stadium works both reflect the trend in art towards monumentality, spectacle and art as an experience and run counter to the expectation that art is an investment, an asset or personal status symbol to enhance one’s home.
There is no doubting that the Dallas Cowboy stadium collection’s works will be seen by a broader audience than most Contemporary art works though possibly not by more given the huge numbers of Americans who visit museums. Nonetheless, Salmon even lets Cowboys owner Jerry Jones claim that he’s got second thoughts about all of the money he’s made from Americans’ obsession with football. “We take that interest,” Salmon quotes him saying, “and we redirect it to art.”
Go read Salmon’s piece. It opens with Gene Jones bidding on an Ellsworth Kelly:
A few weeks later, Gene’s wish comes true, as the Kelly, for which she ended up paying $2.3 million, is installed in a prime spot near the entrance to the Cowboys’ stadium. It’s right next to a mesmerizing light piece by Jim Campbell; it’s also near a classic Doug Aitken photo. Around the corner there are important works by Mel Bochner, Daniel Buren, Olafur Eliasson, and Lawrence Weiner. Clearly, the Joneses are contemporary art collectors of the first rank. But here’s the thing: The art in the Joneses’ Mediterranean-style Dallas villa is largely limited to a small collection of football-themed paintings by Norman Rockwell. For all the money and time they’ve spent on artworks, the Joneses lack the bug that most collectors have, which causes them to accumulate countless works and admire them at home. Instead, they commissioned works that can never be sold and put it all on public view at AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys. And in doing so, they have created a private art collection like no other.