Collector's Roundtable: Lewis Nerman at Smithsonian American Art on October 28
October 27, 2008
Lewis Nerman is a passionate collector of contemporary art. In 2007, he and his family opened the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park, Kansas. A major contemporary gallery in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is also named for the Nerman family. Nerman will be speaking as part of the Collectors Roundtable series October 28 at 7 p.m. in our McEvoy Auditorium. Eye Level caught up with by phone him while he was visiting galleries in Chelsea. Despite the cold weather, he stepped outside to take our call. I think we owe him a coffee or something.
Eye Level: Tell me what you're looking at in Chelsea.
Lewis Nerman: A brand new artist who I'm not familiar with. That's how we train our eye, by looking. The more we see, the better we understand and can then distinguish between a good work and a great work.
EL: I've read that you have three rules for collecting. Can you tell us what they are?
LN: Search, secure, and share. The thrill of collecting is to be able to share it with people. We open our homes to all kinds of groups, even when we're not in the city. In addition to the museum collections, we have our own personal collections in our homes. My parents have one collection, and I have another. We're very fortunate to be able to live with the art. It's a wonderful way to wake up each day.
EL: How did you first become interested in collecting?
LM: We can't work all the time. We decided that we needed another passion besides working. My first major painting was a piece by Frank Stella from the Greenberg Gallery in St. Louis. That was back in 1979. Now I look at art everyday. With the advent of the computer and the click of a mouse you can see art from around the world.
EL: Anything you can tell us about your talk at SAAM?
LN: I'm going to share what my family and I do and how we collect art. One thing that's different about us is that we try to have an intimate relationship with the artists themselves. It gives us a much better understanding of the artist, whether it's James Rosenquist, George Rickey, or Nick Cave, an artist who creates fascinating Soundsuits made from found fabrics. I love it, love it, love it.
EL: Thanks for speaking with us. We're looking forward to your talk.
LN: Thank you!
- Lewis Nerman, Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Art Collecting, American Art,
Smithsonian American Art Museum
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