Kenneth Armitage (British, 1916-2002), Sprawling Woman
The Collector's Eye: Ivan Remnitz
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.
Rufino Tamayo (Mexican, 1899-1991), Niño Bailando (Child Dancing)
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.
Oswaldo Subero (Venezuelan, 1934-2016), Pintura No. 46
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.)
Kenneth Armitage (British, 1916-2002), Sprawling Woman
Vintage South American Mixed Media Tapestry Textile

CM: Is there a work that you regret not buying over the course of your collecting?

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.
Explore the Ivan Remnitz Collection, which will be offered in our Spring Modern Art & Design Auction on May 19th, and our Signature Summer Auction on June 11.