The Collection of Ivan Remnitz spans the globe in both its acquisition story and scope, and has a very clear focus through the lens of the collector’s eye. From artful textiles meant to be hung and admired, to Cycladic inspired sculptures meant to be viewed in the round; the various mediums speak to a sum greater than its parts. This week, we spoke with Remnitz about his collecting journey.
Chandler Mills: Tell us the story of how you got involved in the art world.
Ivan Remnitz: In college, I majored in business, minored in Spanish, and received my Masters in Spanish. Then I ended up getting a job with an American multinational company that had offices in Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Brazil. Venezuela at that time had discovered petroleum and it was a booming economy.
Caracas was a very cosmopolitan city and had wonderful museums and galleries. When I lived in New York, I would go to the museums regularly. I was a member of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and of the Museum of Modern Art so of course when I moved to Caracas I ended up frequenting the museums and galleries there.
I was always traveling, always seeing what was happening in the art scene and giving into my weakness of acquisition.
CM: Do you remember the first piece you ever purchased?
IR: The first piece that I acquired, I bought on an installment plan because I couldn't afford to pay the full price and that’s how my collecting started (laughs)...It was a painting.
Over the years, as my financial situation improved, I was able to buy more things. Going to the galleries I got to meet some of the artists, some I became quite friendly with. I visited their studios and in a few cases we would have afternoon tea together. Some of the artists, we became very close friends and remain friends to this day. I started buying paintings, sculpture and ceramics. I was fascinated by the whole artist movement that was going on in Caracas because it was so rich. I started taking courses in ceramics which was…very interesting for me.
CM: Out of your pieces being offered at Leland Little, do you have a favorite?
IR: One of my favorites is a sculpture by Kenneth Armitage, Sprawling Woman. He had come to Caracas and was giving a masterclass at the university there and he influenced a bunch of young artists. I bought one of his pieces in a gallery there.
(Kenneth Armitage was awarded Best International Sculpture by a Young Artist at the 29th Venice Biennale in 1958. David Bowie was also a collector. Sprawling Woman will be offered in our May 19 Spring Modern Art & Design auction.)
Vintage South American Mixed Media Tapestry Textile
CM: Is there a work that you regret not buying over the course of your collecting?
IR: Oh there’s always that (laughs). Always, always, always. One happened to be hanging in a gallery in Yugoslavia. It was a magnificent, magnificent hanging, fabric art…I couldn't quite afford to spend that much money but it certainly made an impression on me.