From the Fine Art Connoisseur March/April 2020 Editor’s Note:
What an inspiring experience! For the past few months, our editorial team has been engrossed in learning about real-life individuals who are collecting superb contemporary realist art. Our conversations with these enthusiastic patrons — conducted via telephone, e-mail, and in person — have confirmed our belief that much energy, and considerable cash, are being expended in support of the ever-growing number of talented realist artists working among us. We are particularly delighted that these visionaries live all over the country, and that each fell in love with this field in a different way.
In preparing the profiles here, we learned that many of these collectors — sophisticated and well-connected as they are — are not accustomed to being in the spotlight. Knowing how much they value their privacy, we appreciate even more their willingness to speak with us, and we are looking forward to doing the same with a growing list of additional collectors who have kindly begun to engage in conversation with us already.
For now, we hope you will enjoy reading the profiles here, and that you will anticipate — as much as we do — those still to come in Fine Art Connoisseur. We salute those who acquire such outstanding artworks, and we extend our applause to the artists who created those works and to the dealers who sold them. Congratulations, thank you, and keep up the good work.
Speaking of collectors who stick to their (aesthetic) guns, I hope you will find an opportunity to see an exhibition that has just opened in Philadelphia. Now through July 12, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is presenting “Awakened in You,” an array of paintings, works on paper, and sculptures made by African American artists and collected by Dr. Constance E. Clayton. Just last year, she donated 76 artworks to the Academy, continuing its longtime legacy of acquiring and exhibiting African American art. Among the talents represented are Jacob Lawrence, Augusta Savage, Barkley L. Hendricks, Henry O. Tanner, and Laura Wheeler Waring.
Throughout her career, Dr. Clayton (b. 1933) has used her platform not only to further educational opportunities for students, but also to highlight Black artists and their contributions to the wider scope of American art history. As an educator (and especially as superintendent of Philadelphia’s public school system), she has perceived the importance of arts and culture in the lives of children. Ultimately Dr. Clayton’s passion for the arts turned toward advocacy, through which she committed herself to furthering the presence of artists and scholars of color within art institutions.
We applaud the Academy, and of course Dr. Clayton, for bringing these great artworks to wider public attention, and again we salute all collectors who have the courage of their convictions.