Agnes Gund Names Dogs After Bronzino and Giotto

You may be surprised to learn that art patron and philanthropist Agnes Gund has a fondness for naming her dogs after Florentine painters—a portrait of her pooches, Bronzino and Giotto, hangs in her home. These are similar, surely, to the funky and refined names we all give our pets. And who doesn’t love a pet portrait?

But the photograph, among several personal items Gund selected for a piece she wrote for the Wall Street Journal about her favorite things, was shot by artist and preeminent pooch portraitist William Wegman and was a gift from the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies. The high-class pet portrait is just one of the many treasures that makes Agnes Gund so surprisingly relatable:

1. Her passport: She loves to travel! She’s just like the rest of us. Though on her travels, the doors to artists’ studios swing wide open. On one recent trip, Gund visited the artist Wolfgang Laib near Frankfurt. There’s a reason those doors swing open—she does, after all, own work by Laib (like one of his floor works of piles of rice grains poured onto a slab of marble).

2. Orange animal sculpture made by a student at P.S. 139, in Brooklyn: This was part of the Studio in a School program. We love this funky little hand-made number, and, unlike the works by Rothko, Richter, and Bourgeois in Gund’s 1,400-pieces-strong collection, this one must have been affordable! But did Gund actually go to Brooklyn?

3. Two books: One book on the desk is The Rise by Sarah Lewis, “a fascinating look at the importance of failure and how necessary it is for achievement,” writes Gund. We were wondering how Gund, who was president of MoMA for 11 years, copes with all her “failure.”

4. Graeter’s ice cream: Like the rest of us, the fabulously wealthy eat ice cream. This brand is from Gund’s home state of Ohio.

5. Desk and chair: Of course, before you feel all collegial with Gund over her ice cream entry and student sculptures, you should know that the rich brown wooden desk atop which all of these favorite things rest is a piece of Ming Dynasty furniture, made from “rare” and “old” Huanghuali wood.

We really appreciate Gund’s efforts at seeming like the rest of us, but alas, in this she has notched what may be her first-ever “failure.”


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