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Patricia Ellis

Flash Art  256 October 07


C O L L E C T I N G      O V E R V I E W



Anita Zabludowicz is one of Britain’s most esteemed art patrons, a trustee of Tate

and Camden Arts Centre, and sponsor of Whitechapel, the Zoo Art Fair, and other art institutions. The collection she founded in 1995 with her husband Poju spans over 1000 artworks by some 350 artists from 33 countries; it is one of the most important private collections of contemporary art today. Almost exclusively buying work by young artists, the likes of Wolfgang Tillmans, Gregory Crewdson, Jim Shaw and Sarah Lucas credit a very discerning and prophetic eye indeed.  



Sabine Women, 2006. Video still. Courtesy Zabludowicz Collection, London and Roebling Hall, New York. © Eve Sussman & The Rufus Corporation.

As a collector, Zabludowicz is a one in a billion: driven by a genuine enthusiasm and an unfashionably refreshing belief in philanthropy. Inspired by a chance viewing of MoMA’s “High And Low” exhibition in 1990, she enrolled herself in art school,

took various courses, studied art history and interior architecture, and plunged herself into the art world feet first, buying her first work (a Ben Nicholson) by accidentally bidding against herself in her excitement! She discovers new art through an ever expanding network of friends, and sees her collection as a personal

reflection, a life journey of passion, growth and learning. She very rarely sells an acquisition; her most recent purchases include: Anj Smith, Amie Dicke, David Blandy, Dan Attoe, Graham Dolphin. Her tips: “Start small, always buy the best piece of a young artist” and “be really honest, help as many people as possible.”

This rarefied sensitivity, commitment and innovation runs through the Zabludowicz

Collection in its aesthetic, concept and, most recently, interpretation.

On September 20, Zabludowicz launched a new gallery at 176 Prince of Wales

Road in London. 176 is the first of its kind: a private collection, project space, research center and residency program rolled into one, where artists and curators

will be invited to collaborate with Anita and her collection. Housed in a converted 19th-century church, 176 made its debut with the exhibition “An Archeology,” organized by Elizabeth Neilson, the Zabludowicz Collection curator. Featuring 38 artists, including Candice Breitz, Cris Brodahl, Goshka Macuga, Eve Sussman

& the Rufus Corporation and an inaugural commission by Rina Banerjee, the show runs through December 16, followed by a solo project by Gerald Fox in early

2008 and a yet-to-be-announced special curatorial project later in  2008. Speaking with Anita Zabludowicz at her London home (living room: Albert Oehlen, Chantal Joffe, Nathan Mabry), she shares her insight on the changing landscape of collecting

and curating.


Project Space 176. Courtesy Zabludowicz Collection. ©

Zabludowicz Art Projects/David Bebber; YOSHITOMO NARA, Your Dog,

2002. Mixed media, dimensions variable. © The artist, Zabludowicz Collection

and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York; ANYA KIELAR, Hello Yellow, 2006.

Collage, 40 x 40 cm. Courtesy Zabludowicz Collection and Daniel Reich Gallery,

New York. © The Artist; RICHARD HUGHES, Pit, 2004. Mattress. Courtesy

the artist, Zabludowicz Collection and The Modern Institute, Glasgow. © The

Artist; TAKAAKI IZUMI, Nude, 2006. C-print, 31 x 36 cm. Courtesy

Zabludowicz Collection and Taro Nasu, Japan. © The Artist; SARAH MORRIS,

Midtown, 1999. Gloss household paint on canvas, 213 x 213 cm. © The Artist,

Zabludowicz Collection and White Cube, London. Photo: Stephen White.


Sabine Women, 2006. Video still. Courtesy Zabludowicz Collection, London and

Roebling Hall, New York. © Eve Sussman & The Rufus Corporation.


Patricia Ellis: Tell us about your new gallery. It’s not a showcase of a collection. It’s a collection as an interaction of ideas, a way to engage with different people, to experiment. You’re inviting people to work with you and your collection. A collector actually collaborating with curators and artists. That’s very brave!

Anita Zabludowicz: I just can’t believe it. It’s this vision I have that’s just come to light. There’s nothing as boring as just plunking pieces of art just anywhere without a conversation. If you’re going to exhibit a collection it’s important to do it in a special

way. The most interesting approach is to look at it curatorially. As I started collecting, I was more a curator in a sense — not in a conscious way — but there was always this thread through the collection. There was no sense or rhyme or sensibility sometimes, but there always seems to be some common thread somewhere. And the collection now has really become a curator’s dream. It’s very difficult for a collector to collaborate. I think you have to give people as much leniency as possible. To me, curators are artists, and there are so many interesting artists. We’re looking at it now in a different way than we ever have. It’s a kind of different approach now to curators. I really believe people should expand artistically as much as they can. Elizabeth Neilson is doing the first show; I really wanted her to be the first curator to do it. I was so surprised with her proposal. It’s wonderful. It’s

a whole world that you’re discovering, it’s a great education for me personally, and for everybody out there really. Also, for each show we’ll be publishing a series of artist’s multiples and a book. They’ll be collector’s pieces, editions that everybody

can afford. Everybody can actually buy a piece of art, which is really important to us.

PE: The concept of how a collection works is something that’s quite radically innovative with your project. It’s not objects collected by one person around a concept or theme — the way you’re working, it’s more like a collection of  ossibilities. At 176, artworks become perhaps a way of networking and drawing active connections between artists, curators, institutions, ideas.

AZ: I think it’s just because of the way my brain is. The collection is not pure. What it has in common is that it’s an emerging art collection. Obviously, it does have my character and sensibility, but there are so many different ways that you can identify

this collection. And that’s what’s so fun. I don’t think this is the norm when it comes to a collector. I think collections are much more contrived. I’ve had a lot more freedom and the collection is a lot more free. I think this will influence a lot of collectors to come out and move in this kind of direction, and I think it could be a really interesting future for collecting. One of the reasons that this has come about is because museums don’t really like to show collections. They’re starting to get collection savvy now, but… If they don’t show it, then we collectors have to. Our field is quite narrow: it’s emerging art, and some of the pieces are very conceptual. We have to give these artists a platform. The very young emerging art is not being shown

in great museums and the work is just as powerful as some of these great works. I have the opportunity to be able to create a curatorial atmosphere and show these works. I’m sure there are other collectors who will follow.

PE: People don’t often think of collecting as having a function other than a personal interest or market involvement — it’s what makes 176 incredibly exciting. It

becomes an instigating force in the creative process.

AZ: When I have curators come and see things, they get so excited, when they come to the house and see things they’ve never seen. And for me, I get so proud. Proud for the artist, proud for myself. I’m doing it for the love of it.



Patricia Ellis is a writer based in London.

Anita Zabludowicz was born in Gateshead, UK. She lives and works in London.


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