Art Market

8 Collectors and Curators Share the Art on Their Holiday Wish Lists

Artsy Editorial
Nov 26, 2019 3:49PM

This holiday season, we caught up with collectors and art-world professionals to learn about the artworks they’d put on their wish lists this year. They told us about emerging talents they’ve recently discovered, the favorite artists they’re keen to collect more work from, and contemporary art gems they’d aspire to give to friends and loved ones. Below, we share the wish lists of Agnes Gund, Michael Xufu Huang, Valeria Napoleone, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Diana W. Picasso, Antwaun Sargent, and Anita and Tiffany Zabludowicz.


Who are some artists you learned about for the first time this year whose work you’d love to add to your collection?

Anne Speier, an artist based in Vienna, is one of the most interesting and fascinating painters I have come across recently. I met her work for the very first time when in Basel for Art Basel this year, in the first edition of a very small art fair called June. I found out she had a solo show at the Secession in Vienna the same time another artist, very close to me, had her solo. I did not buy the work in Basel, as I needed more time to learn more about her practice and ideally do a studio visit and meet her in person, which has happened just a few days ago. I found real quality in her work, not only in her incredible painting skills. The work is strange and enigmatic, experimental and courageous, pushing into new materials and printing techniques.

Zizipho Poswa is an artist I met this summer during a family trip in Africa. She is doing things with ceramics I have not seen anybody doing, with a spirit and ambition that impress me. Her ceramic sculptures are powerful and beautiful, they show incredible skills and sensitivities and convey a totally fresh and innovative language that touches on her African heritage as a woman. I found out about her through a friend who suggested I visit Southern Guild gallery in Cape Town, Zizipho’s gallery. Before the trip, I started researching the gallery’s program and Zizipho’s work stood out to me. I visited the gallery, and most importantly, I visited her studio and met her in Cape Town.

Are there any artists who you already collect, whose work you’d love to receive as a gift this holiday season?

There are so many artists who are already in my collection whose work I go back to and love to collect deeper—so my Christmas wish list is very long.

To name a few: Rebecca Morris, an abstract painter based in L.A., whose work I have been collecting for a long time. I would love to add especially more recent pieces. Her paintings have a world of their own. It is not easy to find someone with such a unique and dynamic lexicon in abstraction. Her tiny shaped canvases are real treats.

Rebecca Morris
Untitled (#06-16), 2016
Ghada Amer
Thought #6 with a Blue Base and a Clown, 2017

Frances Stark is another artist very present in my collection. Her work spans video, paintings, performances, collages; it’s difficult to pin down. The work is constantly shifting, this is probably why I keep going back to it. Her language is not immediate to grasp; I find it challenging and innovative.

Ghada Amer, one of the very first artists to enter my collection and a very special one. I have earlier pieces of hers. She has expanded into installation, performance, ceramics, and gardens, though still making the beautiful embroidered canvases she has become well-known for. Her practice explores love, relationships, and intimacy in a way it is so relevant, powerful, and personal. I am particularly in love with her very early sculptures, her gardens, and her new monumental ceramics.

Are there specific types of works or mediums you’ve found most exciting in 2019?

Textile is a medium I have always loved. I find more and more artists engage in weaving and use a variety of textile fibers and fabrics in their practices in different capacities. There is something ancient and primal about working with these materials. Women in art history have been pushed away from media associated with the male establishment and considered noble—such as painting, sculpture, and even architecture—to settle into materials and practices that were considered of a lower category, such as textile and weaving. Anni Albers is the ultimate example. There are quite a few artists working with fibers and textiles who are already in my collection, and new ones I have been looking at.


If you could give art as a gift to your friends and loved ones, what would you choose?

House of Voltaire, Studio Voltaire’s shop, is the perfect place to source incredible pieces by artists that I can gift to my friends and family. For this holiday season, House of Voltaire has popped up in Mayfair with many unique works and limited editions by fantastic artists. I would go for one of the cashmere blankets by artists that they offer as limited editions. A few of my favorites are by Ella Kruglyanskaya, Enrico David, and Rose Wylie.

Browse works by artists on Valeria Napoleone’s wish list.

Are there any artists you learned about recently whose work you’d love to collect?

Well, I have always wanted a piece by Alma Thomas, and I may, in fact, be getting one! Of course, I know the work and sadly have never owned one.

I saw Kota Ezawa’s work for the first time at the Whitney Biennial and fell in love. The video of different NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem was very poignant and the watercolor drawings on view were like little jewels. I acquired two of these drawings as gifts for my grandsons.

I also learned about artist Jesse Krimes, one of our Art for Justice Fund grantees. He is a formerly incarcerated Philadelphia-based artist who used materials he found in prison to make his art—like transferring photographs from newspapers onto soap, and using hair gel and a plastic utensil to hand-print images onto bed sheets. I purchased two of his recent quilts where he combined images made by formerly incarcerated and currently incarcerated people while referencing art-historical and philosophical figures.

Browse works by artists on Agnes Gund’s wish list.

Ruth Ossai
Omeje Chibuike and Onah Sopulu, 2018
Red Hook Labs
Malick Sidibé
Sans titre, circa 1965

Are there any artists you learned about recently whose work you’d love to collect?

I don’t have a personal collection of art, but I would say Ruth Ossai. She is a photographer who makes striking studio portraits that draw on family, that really speak to post-independence African photography—photographers such as Malick Sidibé. I love the way she draws on the family photograph, but is also thinking really contemporarily about notions of dress, beauty, and vibrant Nigerian culture.

I first saw her work at Red Hook Labs in the exhibition called “New African Photography.” In the last few years, we’ve seen a lot of images from black photographers who haven’t gotten their due, like Malick Sidibé, and I had not seen someone who had bridged that gap between what was happening then and what is happening now, and I think Ruth’s work does that. It’s work that deserves to be collected and seen more widely.

Who are some artists who you’ve known about for a long time who you would love to support?

If I had a favorite artist, it would be Barkley Hendricks. The way he was thinking about portraiture is unmatched. In the 1960s, there wasn’t this type of portrait being made of African Americans, of black people. Barkley was going to the streets of his New England communities and inviting people into his studio. He put them down on canvas, and I think that was a radical act then, and you can see his influence in several generations of African American portrait artists—Kehinde Wiley, Amy Sherald, Jordan Casteel, I can go on. And he was not just addressing figuration, but also abstraction and Pop art. I would love to own one, one day.

Are there any types of art you’re particularly interested in now?

Because of my book (The New Black Vanguard, 2019), I spent the last year deeply embedded in black photographic portraiture, but I’m a painting guy.

Several years ago, I wrote a catalogue on the now-late painter Ed Clark. His abstractions operate on a level that is sublime. And I’m glad that they’re gaining more prominence in our discussions of post-war abstraction. Some of my other favorites are: Mickalene Thomas, the way she is thinking about the notions of family and sexuality rings true for me; Glenn Ligon, the way he uses text, in kind of a figurative way, and the way he’s playing with color; and Titus Kaphar, who’s thinking about history painting and how might that operate in the modern and contemporary context. And younger artists, like Jennifer Packer, Janiva Ellis, and Jordan Casteel.

Amy Sherald is an amazing artist who is thinking about the photograph in her painting. Jonathan Lyndon Chase is someone who’s thinking about collage, black male sexuality, and showing it explicitly; that kind of explicit nature really speaks to honesty and that excites me. And Chase Hall and Cameron Welch. Painting is really having a resurgence, and as someone who mostly writes about it, I’m really excited.

If you could give artwork to friends or loved ones, would those be the artists you’d choose from?

Yes, I would turn to those works. There’s also a Kerry James Marshall painting that I would probably give my mom. I also think about how we always talk about loved ones, but as someone who works in this industry, and someone who is curating more and more every day, I think about gifting in terms of what works do museums need? And what might I give, if I had the opportunity? I think about how these artists should be added to collections. I would give certain works to embolden certain collections.

Browse works by artists on Antwaun Sargent’s wish list.

Trulee Hall
Phallic Female, 2018

Are there any artists you learned about recently whose work you’d love to collect?

This year we fell for Trulee Hall. Big time! We can’t get enough and are working with her to make an opera. We first saw her work at Frieze Projects in Los Angeles and her first solo show at Maccarone. She makes installations and moving image works that mix live-action, digital, and stop-motion animations. She’s incredible. We love it because it’s so professional, yet utterly “out there.”

Are there works by artists you collect already that you’d love to give or receive as a gift?

There is Puck Verkade, whose new film for our Invites program featured a rapping housefly; she did a print edition with us (which is only £80!) and a video with Daata, which we will be giving to all our special friends for Christmas.

For us, the holiday season is about giving and spreading the love. We give the Zabludowicz Collection team and all our friends artworks from the U.K.’s brilliant non-profit art organizations, who all fund their programs with these sales, such as House of Voltaire, Gasworks, ICA, South London Gallery, Chisenhale, Camden Arts Centre, Whitechapel, Serpentine, and Glasgow International. We also can’t get enough of Daata TV, which we will be streaming all holidays (after giving my loved ones our favorite videos to treasure forever—you can download free work by Jon Rafman, Toby Ziegler, and Lu Yang).

If we could get one thing for Christmas, it would be the Infinite Objects edition by Jeremy Couillard—we are so impressed that finally someone worked out how to make a cool object with a movie in it that you can put on your mantle! Genius! But it sold out immediately…so we are hoping that Santa saved one.

Browse works by artists on Anita and Tiffany Zabludowicz’s wish list.

Tom Allen, Cythera 1, 2019. Courtesy of the X Museum, Beijing.

Mike Nelson. Diyagram (Amnesiac beach fire), 2015. Courtesy of the X Museum, Beijing.

Are there any artists you learned about recently whose work you’d love to collect?

I’ve always been most interested in young artists. I’ve researched over 100 young artists this year already and added quite a few of them to my collection. For instance, Tom Allen. I first saw his work on Mexico City–based gallery Lulu’s Instagram, and recently saw it in person at FIAC. I think he is able to paint the story beneath the surface, so his work is especially attractive to me. It reminds me a lot of the plight of modern people, looking good in appearance, but toxic underneath.

I also have to mention Mike Nelson, who is already a well-established artist. I came across his work through his Tate Britain commission. It was grand and monumental, and it really helped me understand his work thoroughly. I regret not knowing about him earlier. Some of the other artists I added to my collection this year include Robin F. Williams, Wang Xiaoqu, Jesse Darling, Alex Gardner, and Anthea Hamilton.

Are there works by artists you collect already that you’d love to receive as a gift?

James Turrell. He is one of the most important artists focusing on light and space and I already have some of his work in my collection. It would be an honor to have a “Skyspace” piece installed in my space, if possible.

Browse works by artists on Michael Xufu Huang’s wish list.

Cui Jie
Shanghai Education Television Station #3, 2017
Pilar Corrias Gallery
Cui Jie
SIS Building, 2019
Pilar Corrias Gallery

Are there any artists you learned about recently whose work you’d love to collect?

I recently discovered the Chinese artist Cui Jie. She does ambitious architectural paintings, characterized by a distinctly fractured, multi-perspectival, and non-linear aesthetic. The various layers that Cui applies to canvas are based on real as well as imaginary images, which equally represent the surreal transformation of China’s urban landscape over the last 30 years.

I heard about Cui Jie through my friend Hans Ulrich Obrist, who included her work in a group show he co-curated, “Hack Space,” at K11 Hong Kong in 2016. Then I met her in her studio in Shanghai. I like the way her architectural paintings and sculptures offer a timely commentary on Chinese urbanism. Her art recalls influences ranging from Bauhaus, Russian Constructivism, International Style, and Surrealism to Japanese Metabolism aesthetics.

Are there works by artists you collect already that you’d love to receive as a gift?

I am fond of Louise Bourgeois. Since I became a mother, I have become more and more interested in the subconscious messages female artists can put into their work. With my jewelry brand, Mené, we just did a collaboration with the Louise Bourgeois Foundation. We created three powerful pieces cast directly from Louise Bourgeois’s work, including the well-known spider, the Arc of Hysteria, and Spiral. I just worked on a Pablo Picasso and Louise Bourgeois exhibition with Marie-Laure Bernadac at Hauser & Wirth in Zurich, and it allowed me to stress the importance of Louise Bourgeois, a legendary figure in art history.

If you could give art as a gift to your friends and loved ones, what would you choose?

I would offer a painting by Henry Taylor, a work on paper by Matthew Barney, a gigantic robot by Jordan Wolfson, or a sculpture by Jean-Luc Moulène. And, of course, a piece of jewelry, like the Louise Bourgeois spider in 24-karat gold by Mené coming out soon.

Browse works by artists on Diana W. Picasso’s wish list.

Are there are specific types of art you’d love to give or receive this holiday season?

When I was a student, I started to curate exhibitions in my kitchen, and I realized that books are a very important medium for artists. From Yoko Ono’s Grapefruit book (1964) or Ed Ruscha’s Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1963) to Peter Fischli & David Weiss’s Questions book (1981–2003). It’s a very democratic art form: When artists make books, they become portable exhibitions and are also very accessible, allowing many more people to encounter their work.

In terms of books from emerging artists, there are small booklets produced and distributed for free during our COS x Serpentine Park Nights. Artist-designed, they are distributed to the audience as part of the performances. The 2019 series included Carrie Mae Weems, Cecilia Vicuña, Precious Okoyomon, Klein, Kiko Kostadinov, Shawanda Corbett, and many more. Then, there are our new catalogs of Faith Ringgold and Luchita Hurtado, two of the most extraordinary pioneers who were with us this summer for their first solo exhibitions in European institutions.

The other medium that has preoccupied me this year has been augmented reality. Jakob Kudsk Steensen’s The Deep Listener (2019) takes us on an ecological trail through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park that reveals the sights and sounds of five of London’s species: the London plane tree, bats, parakeets, Azure Blue Damselflies, and reedbeds. This was one of three AR commissions we produced this year as part of our digital program with artists working in the field of emerging technologies. The second was an exhibition in the sky and a book by Suzanne Treister; and the third, an app that offers daily oracles by Jenna Sutela. What could be a better gift to give today than a divination app for the holidays?

Artsy Editorial

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated that Michael Xufu Huang is co-founder of the X Museum. He is the founder.

Portrait of Valeria Napoleone by Michael Leckie. Courtesy of Valeria Napoleone. Portrait of Agnes Gund by Emiliano Granado for Artsy. Portrait of Antwaun Sargent. Courtesy of Antwaun Sargent. Portrait of Anita and Tiffany Zabludowicz by Samantha Deitch/ Portrait of Michael Xufu Huang. Courtesy of Michael Xufu Huang. Portrait of Diana W. Picasso by Paola Kudacki. Courtesy of Diana W. Picasso. Portrait of Hans Ulrich Obrist by Kate Berry for Artsy.