Learn about a robust fine art collection that began by spending weekends visiting galleries, museums, and studios.
A Fine Art Connoisseur Art Collection Spotlight
Pamela and David Hornik are based in Palo Alto, where David is a tech venture capitalist and Pamela serves on the boards of Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center and Anderson Collection, as well as the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive. David is a commissioner of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and they both are founding members of the Institute of Contemporary Art, San Francisco.
Although they both enjoyed art in childhood and later explored New York City’s museums while living there, it wasn’t until Pamela began volunteering at the Cantor that they got “hooked” on art. For the last 15 years, they have collected contemporary figurative art and are truly enjoying the blossoming of this field, which they continue to advance through their own acquisitions, loans, and donations.
David recalls that they “began by spending weekends visiting galleries, museums, and studios. We had four small children, so we all learned to love art together. Now the kids are in their 20s, but remain passionate (and opinionated!) about art.”
Pamela says their first “real” purchase was a painting of a paper doll dress by Michelle D’Angelo, which they spotted while vacationing on Cape Cod. “Before then,” she laughs, “it never occurred to us that you could buy and live with art. When we returned to California, the gallery confirmed it could be shipped, so David bought it as an anniversary present for me. And Pandora’s box was opened.”
Today the Horniks’ collection contains works by a range of artists working around the world, including Derrick Adams, Wesaam Al-Badry, Alvin Armstrong, Felipe Baeza, Sophie Barber, Rafael Baron, Katherine Bernhardt, Dawoud Bey, Amoako Boafo, Liu Bolin, Linus Borgo, André Butzer, Chiachio & Giannone, Jordan Casteel, Serge Attukwei Clottey, Alex Bradley Cohen, Maia Cruz Palileo, Michelle D’Angelo, Erica Deeman, Loïc Devaux, Sam Durant, Conrad Egyir, Amir H. Fallah, Alex Foxton, Louis Fratino, Andy Freeberg, Lee Friedlander, Hope Gangloff, Rico Gatson, Andrea Geyer, Jerrell Gibbs, Nash Glynn, Geor-gina Gratrix, Jenna Gribbon, Chase Hall, Ania Hobson, David Hockney, Nick Hoover, Pieter Hugo, Chantal Joffe, Hayv Kahraman, Jon Key, Vojtĕch Kovařík, Jesse Krimes, Lilian Martinez, Gisela McDaniel, Yue Minjun, Zanele Muholi, Dominic Musa, Rebecca Ness, Latefa Noorzai, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Catherine Opie, Eamon Ore-Giron, Julian Pace, Zéh Palito, Sun-kyo Park, Ebony G. Patterson, Elizabeth Peyton, Joel Daniel Phillips, Jiab Prachakul, Sirli Raitma, Paula Rego, Deborah Roberts, Ruben Natal-San Miguel, Claudette Schreuders, Tschabalala Self, Amy Sherald, Jake Shiner, Lorna Simpson, John Sonsini, Billy Sullivan, Josephine Taylor, Hank Willis Thomas, Lava Thomas, Mickalene Thomas, Ray Turner, Nicola Tyson, Raelis Vasquez, Ron Veasey, Grace Weaver, Kehinde Wiley, London Wil-liams, Sung Jik Yang, Wanxin Zhang, Christina Zimpel, and Cayce Zavaglia.
The Horniks say they “don’t have a particular approach to collecting — just buying what we love. We spend lots of time in museums discovering astounding artists we’ve never heard of,” and they also buy from galleries, fairs, and charity auctions. But the leading place the Horniks see art is Instagram: Pamela admits to being an IG addict who posts “tons” of art and admires more daily. There she has built a community, “a really lovely group of fellow art fanatics” who share their latest crushes. They include Danny First, Eric Green, Josef Vascovitz, and the owners of Panama’s Roux Collection, and they particularly enjoy gathering in person at fairs and openings.
David says he and Pamela “most enjoy buying directly from amazing young artists just getting their start. Nothing makes us happier than helping them reach the audiences they deserve. For example, we first saw the life-sized graphite portraits by Joel Daniel Phillips at a San Francisco fair, and we swiftly acquired one. He was then living in the gritty Tenderloin district, where he got to know the local residents. The resulting portraits of his neighbors are astoundingly lifelike and deeply empathetic. When the opportunity arose to support a book about these artworks, we jumped at the chance. We remain huge fans and friends of Joel, and recently we were lucky to acquire one of the paintings he is making now.”
Clearly the Horniks drill deep, but they also cast the net widely. David notes, “Our artworks reflect a real sense of a broad, inclusive world — a world in which women, people of color, LGBTQ+ folks have a voice that is celebrated.”
Pamela continues, “Our collection’s overarching characteristic is that it embraces the personhood of the artists and their subjects. Much of the art speaks to questions of citizenship, equality, and justice.”
The Horniks appreciate what “an incredible luxury it is to be able to afford more art than our walls can hold.” They go on, “What we love about art is its ability to engage, inspire, and excite. But that is hard for artworks to do while in storage. That’s why we regularly lend to museums, where many more people will see them. And we have been honored to donate to institutions we love as well.”
It’s also worth mentioning that the Horniks are devoted to their dog, Teddy, so Pamela has built a collection of dog art created by several of the artists listed above, as well as John Hiltunen, Susumu Kamijo, Alex Katz, Jeff Koons, Dana Schutz, David Shrigley, and David Surman.
She has long been “obsessed” with Amoako Boafo’s painting of a man in a red suit holding a Jack Russell terrier. Thanks to Instagram, she developed a friendship with this Ghana-born, Vienna-based artist, ultimately leading the Horniks to support his first solo museum exhibition at San Francisco’s Museum of the African Diaspora. They don’t own that beloved painting, but say that “seeing it at the museum alongside Amoako was the next best thing.” This kind of personal connection is yet another great by-product of collecting, bringing joy to everyone involved.
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