What I Buy and Why: Art Dealer Edward Tyler Nahem on His Many Collecting Regrets and the Painting He’d Nab from MoMA
Edward Tyler Nahem is an integral part of the New York gallery scene. The dealer, who founded his gallery of the same name in 1985, has since shown works from a litany of the greatest names in 20th century art: Pablo Picasso, Helen Frankenthaler, Ed Ruscha, Basquiat … you understand.
The gallery is also known for its scientific catalogs with careful research. But what does the dealer have in his own house? A mix of contemporary and modern art that would impress any curator. In terms of his collection philosophy, Nahem tries not to focus too much on collecting missteps or missed opportunities in the past – although there have been many – and instead focuses on the joy of being with the works of art around him now.
We met with the dealer who gave insights into his collection philosophy.
What was your first purchase?
In 1976 I bought a Japanese ukiyo-e woodcut by the artist Hiroshige from 1855. It shows a village in the snow along Tokaido Street and is from his most famous series.
What was your last purchase?
A breathtaking hyper-realistic portrait in charcoal and pastel by the self-taught Nigerian artist Babajide Olatunji from the series “Tribal Marks” about scarification marks on the face.
Which works or artists would you like to add to your collection this year?
That is a difficult question to answer. It’s more what catches my eye than shooting at something in particular. Plus, if I said what I yearn for, it would only increase the competition.
What is the most expensive work of art you own?
I don’t like to think about my most expensive purchase. I just enjoy being able to collect works that appeal to me the most.
Where do you most often buy art?
Mainly from colleagues, with the occasional auction purchase.
Is there a job that you regret buying?
Lots. The list is long and would only frustrate me even more if I go into detail and be reminded of those who escaped.
This place never felt like home, like I was their own. Courtesy Edward Tyler Close. Collection by Edward Tyler Close. “width =” 806 “height =” 529 “srcset =” https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/01/Screen-Shot-2021-01-22-at-6.43.23- PM-1024×672.png 1024w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/01/Screen-Shot-2021-01-22-at-6.43.23-PM-300×197.png 300w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2021/01/Screen-Shot-2021-01-22-at-6.43.23-PM-50×33.png 50w “sizes =” (maximum width: 806px) 100vw, 806px “/>
What work do you have hanging over your sofa? What’s with in your bathroom?
Above our living room sofa in New York is a large and poignant diptych by the American painter Titus Kaphar. This place never felt like home / like I was your own, made in 2011. Behind the sofa in the study is a mystical landscape painting on wood by the French conceptual artist Laurent Grasso.
What’s the most impractical piece of art you own?
A large scale work by UK based artist David Ersser called The Ideal Home Show. It’s a life-size installation of a playroom in a house with all the different furniture and fixtures made from balsa wood. It is great!
What job do you wish you’d bought when you got the chance?
A large format painting by Kerry James Marshall.
If you could steal a work of art without getting caught, which one would it be?
Picasso’s night fishing in Antibes. I had the privilege of seeing the painting many years ago in a small exhibition entitled “Picasso and the War Years” in the Legion of Honor at the California Palace in San Francisco. I arranged a loan of another painting on the show and was there for the small dinner and opening. What a thrill to wander through this show at night with no other soul in the place. I later planned to steal the painting from the MoMA, but it didn’t fit under my shirt.
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