Art critics and curators rarely use the word “beauty” anymore to describe a work of art, unless they want to be ironic. The notion of beauty, however, was at the core of what David and Peggy Rockefeller collected.
“The love of beauty has, of course, been the primary motivation behind our collecting. Beauty, to me, whether found in nature or in man-made objects, is ennobling and enriches the soul. It remains to me a kind of mystery, a concept somehow beyond the intellect.” (From the preface to The David and Peggy Rockefeller Collection Volume 1: European Works of Art, p. 13)
“A secondary but important motivation behind our collecting is the love of diversity. We are fascinated by the wonderful interactions that can occur among pieces from different times and cultures – especially when they meet with their surroundings to create a harmonious whole. Our enjoyment of our possessions and surroundings does not necessarily relate proportionately to some artificial rating assigned by a group of experts. Rather, our enjoyment is closely associated with our recollections of how, where, and from whom we acquired our various art objects, and well as with the relationship of these objects to one another.” (From the preface to The David and Peggy Rockefeller Collection Volume 1: European Works of Art, p. 14)
“We never bought a painting with a view towards ‘forming a collection’ or to ‘fill out a series,’ but simply because, in the end, we couldn’t resist it. Through this rather unscientific process, we have been fortunate to have surrounded ourselves with beautiful works of art that have given us unending and increasing pleasure as we have lived with them over time.” (From the foreword to Masterpieces from the David and Peggy Rockefeller Collection: Manet to Picasso, Museum of Modern Art, 1994, p. 7)
“Given other responsibilities and interests, I never have been able to devote a major portion of my time to the appreciation and collecting of art. Nevertheless, the time I have been able to find has had enormous meaning for me and contributed greatly to my own life and that of my family. Certainly Peggy and I both believe deeply that our collecting and enjoyment of man-made objects of beauty have given us a saner, more balanced, and more joyful approach to our activities in every area of life. Beauty gives one joy, and joy, in turn, generally adds new and productive facets to one’s overall perspective.” (From Masterpieces from the David and Peggy Rockefeller Collection: Manet to Picasso, Museum of Modern Art, p. 67)
“Above all she [Mother] taught me and my siblings to be open to all art – to allow its colors, texture, composition, and content to speak to us: to understand what the artist was trying to do and how the work might provide a challenging or reassuring glimpse of the world around us. It was often a deeply enthralling experience. I owe much to Mother, but her patient transmission of her love of art is a treasure beyond calculation.” (From Memoirs, p. 442)