The John and Gretchen Berggruen Collection lives at the axis of three paths: that of artists who have been part of their lives, whose works they've represented at the Berggruen Gallery or that have historical significance. While it includes some pure abstraction, this very personal and eclectic collection is focused on figurative painting. It features the work of Post-War artists Willem de Kooning, David Hockney, Helen Frankenthaler, Martin Puryear, Mark di Suvero and Wayne Thiebaud, as well as important examples of Bay Area figurative painters Richard Diebenkorn, David Park, Elmer Bischoff, Nathan Oliveira and Paul Wonner. The collection is housed in a stunning Russian Hill residence, originally built in 1854 and later redesigned and rebuilt for the Berggruens by architect Robert A.M. Stern.
"My passion for art started at an early age and I bought my first piece, a photograph by Michael Kenna, when I was 15 years old," says collector Sabrina Buell. Buell's collection began with an emphasis on photography including works by Berenice Abbott, Robert Adams, Noboyoshi Araki, Nan Goldin, Todd Hido, Roni Horn, Tina Mod otti and Weegee. It has since evolved to include works on paper by such artists as Ernesto Caivano, R. Crumb, Gary Hume, Ellsworth Kelly and Wade Guyton, as well as sculpture by Katharina Fritsch, Barry McGee, Mitzi Pederson and Ken Price. Buell's live/work loft was originally a warehouse space, and the old timber ceilings and beautiful brick arches from the original architecture have been maintained.
The phenomenal collection of Rena Bransten, founder of her eponymous gallery, is a vibrant testament to a life lived with art. This iconoclastic collection reflects the evolution of Bransten's attitudes and interests over time, and includes works in every medium. The collection features John Bankston, HC Westermann, John Baldessari, sculpture by Noguchi, Viola Frey and David Smith and photography by Candida Hofer and Vik Muniz. Bransten's garden also features pieces by Frey and Dennis Gallagher.
Art dealer Trish Bransten of Rena Bransten Gallery and artist Dennis Gallagher collected contemporary art for over twenty-five years, beginning with a focus on ceramics and Bay Area artists including Roy DeForest, Robert Arneson, Robert Hudson, Ron Nagle, Richard Shaw and Viola Frey. Along with their travels and interests, the collection expanded to include internationally known conceptual artists such as Kathy Prendergast, Tony Cragg, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Willie Doherty and others. Bransten continues to collect artists her gallery exhibits as well as work she discovers through auctions, private sales and galleries.
"Its inspiring to watch artists continually evolve and bloom," says collector Barry Brimmell. Brimmell and partner Timothy Thiel have met and befriended many of the artists whose works they've acquired over the years. "We've been collecting since the mid- 70s and its wonderful to know the artists and follow their careers as they progress." The Brimmell/Thiel collection focuses on contemporary California artists, including Ed Gilliam, Henry Turmon, Frances McCormick, Jim Melcher and Wesley Kimler. Their collection also features work by Berlin-based painter Stefan Kuerten and Chicago sculptor Robert McCauley.
"I like to find stuff that's a kick in the teeth," says Jeff Dauber of his avant-garde and contemporary art collection. He hits that mark with challenging and confrontational pieces like Walter Robinson's pink Mickey Mouse Pieta and Al Farrow's artillery-walled Synagogue. Dominated by large-scale works, Dauber's collection includes sculpture, drawings, paintings, photographs and new media. In his largely representative and figurative collection are pieces by Travis Somerville, Hank Willis Thomas, Hung Liu, John Bankston, Enrique Chagoya, Lincoln Schatz and many others. Dauber's "Deform" house, on which he collaborated with experimental architect Thom Faulders, features a private gallery dedicated to his rapidly growing collection.
The philosophy behind the collection of Orlando Diaz-Azcuy and John Capo was to always purchase what they loved, rather than with an eye towards future value. "Art was always a way to learn more about ourselves," says Diaz-Azcuy. Showcased in the renowned designer's spectacular San Francisco home are color field pieces by Kelly, Motherwell, Ruscha and Gene Davis as well as work by painters Deborah Oropallo, John Zurier and Jose Maria Sert and sculptor Bruno Romeda. Most recently Diaz-Azcuy and Capo began collecting photography, in particular that by artists working digitally to stretch, modify and intepret images, including Robert ParkeHarrison and Michael Huey.
The Meyer/Calas collection started when, 25 years ago, Lorna Meyer met two gentlemen with over 3,000 California focused-works ranging from California Impressionism to the Society of Six. She acquired a number of pieces, including works by Society of Six artists Selden Gile, William Clapp, Louis Siegriest and August F. Gay. Early works also include Emil Carlson, Otis Oldfield, Francis McComas, William Ritschel, John O'Shea and Gottardo Piazzoni. The collection evolved to include such Contemporary Bay Area figurative painters as David Park, Nathan Oliveira, Joan Brown (including a rare figurative piece by Brown), James Weeks and Paul Wonner. The collection also includes pieces by sculptors Manuel Neri and Stephen DeStaebler. Contemporary works by Wayne Thiebaud, Frank Lobdell, Christopher Brown, Terry St. John and Portland ceramicist, Frank Boyden, are also showcased.
A visit to the Chara Schreyer collection is an inspiring experience in art without boundaries. There are over fifty works of art in this collection in the Four Seasons, a museum in miniature. Primarily black and white, this collection features conceptual and modern art in an array of mediums. Artists represented include Ed Rucha, John Baldessari, DeKooning, Sol Lewitt, Dan Flavin, Robert Melee, Jeff Koons, Lee Friedlander and Richard Prince.
The Robert T. Wall Family Collection, split between residences in San Francisco and Telluride (Colorado), consists of over 300 pieces of traditional, tribal art from sub-Saharan Africa. The collected works embrace the highly abstract quality of African tribal sculpture and impart a powerfully expressive theme of spiritually fierce objects. It includes figures, masks and other ritual objects and focuses on the peoples of Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon and Nigeria. Dating from as early as the 13th century, numerous pieces exhibit ancient patination as well as the remains of the ritual and ceremonial libations from generations of indigenous use within the tribal culture. Most of the pieces are sculpted from wood, but others are made from ivory, stone and terra cotta. While African art is the heart of the collection, it also includes objects from pre-Columbian Central and South America, the Pacific Northwest Coast and Oceania, as well as contemporary oils and prints.