Welcome to ‘Seen through the Collector’s Lens: 150 Years of Photography’


– Good afternoon. I’m Ian Wardropper, director of The Frick Collection and I want to welcome all of you today and thank Inge Reist and her colleagues, Esmee Quodbach and Samantha Deutsch at the
Center for the History of Collecting for putting together such a rich and varied program
for this symposium, Seen Through a Collector’s
Lense: A hundred and fifty years of photography. The Center was begun in 2007 and Inga’s extraordinary
energy and vision has created an institution
that has really become a contribution to the field. They sponsor fellowships, symposia, such as this one, publications, book prize, oral histories, online archive directories
and a wide range of topics. We’re deeply grateful
to the principal sponsor of this event, The Christian
Keesee Charitable Trust. Chris Keesee is a notable
collector in his own right and a good friend of the Frick. And we’re grateful, as well,
for the additional support we’ve received from Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez-Falla, who
I’m pleased to say are here today and are known to everyone in the photography community for all of their multiple activities. This symposium, like several before it, declares by it’s very subject matter, that the intellectual reach
of the Center goes well beyond that of the Frick
Collection and the Frick Art Reference Library, putting
our institution in contact with new constituencies
of specialists and broader audiences of art
collectors and art lovers. I am a specialist in 16th
and 17th century sculpture and decorative arts, so I’m
quite far from your field. However, I happen to be
married to Sarah McNear, who is a photography curator
and been involved with all kinds of things at
Aperture and so forth, so the little I know about
photography comes through my wife, who actually
played a certain role in this symposium. (audience applauds) For this occasion, both
today and tomorrow, we’ll have the enormous
privilege of hearing directly from collectors, in this
case Jan and Trish de Bonte, who have built a world class
collection of photographs that they rotate in
their Los Angeles home. Like the Center’s Oral History Program for Living Collectors, this
enables our institution to be actively engaged with
the art scene of today, so I’m grateful, indeed, to
the de Bonts for agreeing to be interviewed for the
finale of the symposium tomorrow afternoon. And with that, I’d like to
turn the proceedings over to Inge. – Thank you, Ian, so
much for that welcome. I love seeing so many
new faces here in the Frick Collection and I’m looking forward, tremendously, to getting
to know the world of people interested in photography and the collecting of photography. So, a warm welcome to all of you as we now raise the
curtain on the Center’s fifteenth symposium since 2007. I, also, would like to extend my thanks to the Christian Keesee Charitable Trust that has so generously
sponsored this event. And also, express my heartfelt thanks to Sondra Gilman and Celso
Gonzalez-Falla for their additional support. On a practical, but completely
essential level though, I, above all, want to thank my colleagues, the assistant directors of the Center, Samantha Deutsch and Esmee Quodbach, who just unfailingly and
unstintingly help with the preparation of these events. There are a lot of moving
parts and they do a beautiful job, always with a smile. And lastly, I want to thank Ian, himself and Stephen Bury, the Andrew W. Mellon
Chief Librarian of the Frick Art Reference
Library for the support that they give to all of
the Center’s programmings, because we really need
them and appreciate that. Hosting a symposium on
collecting photographs has been on our minds,
more or less, from the day we launched the Center. And for me, personally, it
traces back, all the way, to my teenage years when
I remember having had several heated debates
with my parents about whether or not photography
constituted a legitimate category of the fine arts. So, and in fact, at Columbia at that time, there was only one course
offered on the history of photography and that course, certainly, did not address collecting
art in this medium in any way. So, we have come a long way. And with this symposium,
unlike the one we held almost exactly a year
ago on collecting Spanish Colonial and Latin American
Art, we have a chance to trace the meteoric rise of a single category of art,
particularly in museum exhibitions and in the
marketplace that has occurred during just the past few decades. Of course, that being said, if you look at day one of your program, you will see that collecting photographs
has been going on for more than 150 years
with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert leading the charge. So, we have a very rich
and varied program ahead of us, which like all of the
Center’s symposia will give us and opportunity to explore
collecting as it relates to the larger socio-political,
ecomonic context that is such a rich part
of this interdisciplinary field of collecting history. I, too, would like to express
my thanks to Jan and Trish de Bont. I can’t wait for you to see
the photographs of their collection as it’s installed
in their beautiful house in Los Angeles when they
are interviewed tomorrow by Denise Bethel as our symposium finale. With the overarching topic
of this symposium lying so far beyond my personal
old masters comfort zone, I certainly needed a guide
to help me navigate what are uncharted waters for
those of us at the Frick. And happily, Malcolm
Daniel, whom I had known for many years when he was at
the Metropolitan Museum of Art, agreed to be that
guide and I just can’t thank him enough for all of the
time, thought and wisdom that he has given to the
planning of this program. Meetings at the Frick,
interrupting his summer holiday with telephone conversations. There was a lot that lies behind this. And I’d also like to add my thanks, my heartfelt thanks to Sarah McNear, who, as the first lady of the Frick, selflessly educated me
or at least tried to, in an unofficial capacity
even before I started working with Malcolm, telling me what the key
topics and key individuals would be to make for a
successful symposium. Sarah, I really can’t thank you enough. So, without further ado, I’d
like you to please silence your cell phones, if you haven’t already, while I introduce Malcolm Daniel.

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