The collectors, who got married in 2011 on the first day of legalized gay marriage in New York, met as undergraduates at Yale University 26 years ago. After Lumpkin finished his PhD in comparative literature at Harvard in 1999, he became a producer in MTV’s news and documentaries division and joined Boccuzzi, now a partner at the law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, in New York. Lumpkin spearheads their collecting, which began over a decade ago with early acquisitions of photographs by
and works on paper by
, but Boccuzzi often makes the final call on which piece to acquire by a given artist.
“The focus on artists of color grew out of a desire to understand what it means to be black in this society,” says Lumpkin, whose father was African American and mother a Sephardic Jew from Morocco. “Based on my sister’s appearance, people more readily identify her as African-American than they do me. So I had a different experience growing up in La Jolla, where there wasn’t a lot of diversity. I was able to ‘pass,’ with everything that means as a cultural experience.”