Anderson Cooper Has Rather Dramatic Taste in Collecting Art (Flayings, for Instance)

When he's not on assignment for CNN, the journalist apparently is a fan of gallery hopping in Chelsea.

Anderson Cooper and Benjamin Maisani. ©Patrick McMullan, Photo: Sean Zanni.

Anderson Cooper and his partner, Benjamin Maisani, have gone on the record about their art collection—and the couple has revealed some choice details about their favorite artists.

As one might expect from the seasoned CNN journalist and his French beau, who spent five years working at the Morgan Library, their tastes are both eclectic and divergent. As revealed in a recent Town & Country interview, Maisani leans toward Old Masters and antiquarian maps, while Cooper is more inclined to contemporary works. But there does seem to be some overlap in their art predelections: faceless portraits.

Anton Raphael Mengs, <i>Portrait of Mariana de Silva y Sarmiento, Duquesa de Huescar </i>(1775). Courtesy of the Met Breuer Museum.

Anton Raphael Mengs, Portrait of Mariana de Silva y Sarmiento, Duquesa de Huescar (1775). Courtesy of the Met Breuer Museum.

Last year at TEFAF, the pair scooped up Anton Raphael Mengs’s Portrait of Mariana de Silva y Sarmiento, Duquesa de Huescar, a ghostly, faceless portrait that was featured in the Met Breuer’s disappointing debut show, “Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible.” The men continued their TEFAF shopping spree at dealer Otto Naumann’s booth, buying The Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew by the Italian painter Andrea Vaccaro, a dramatic scene capturing St. Bartholomew’s tortured expression before he is flayed alive.

These two works are more aligned with Maisani’s “more cerebral and polished” tastes, no doubt honed by his art history studies, while “Anderson likes things that are more spontaneous and free-flowing.” A deep dive into Cooper’s Instagram feed confirms his passion for collecting hand-painted signs, and that that he is a fan of recent MacArthur “Genius” Njideka Akunyili Crosby and current star of the Whitney Toyin Ojih Odutola.

Markus Schinwald's <i>Untitled</i> (2015) and (2016). All images courtesy: the artist and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris.

Markus Schinwald’s Untitled (2015) and (2016). All images courtesy the artist and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris.

Other gems in the collection are works by the Romanian painter Adrian Ghenie, whose canvases smashed pre-sale estimates during the 2016 auction cycle. Cooper specifically favors Ghenie’s gestural portraits reminiscent of Francis Bacon paintings that have their features wiped away. The couple’s collection also includes works by Austrian painter Markus Schinwald, who buys 19th-century portraits from the conservative Biedermeier era and then “enhances” them with absurd medical apparatuses painted onto the otherwise flawless portraits.

Clearly, the two men have distinct personal tastes. One’s a little Old Country; the other’s a little rock ‘n’ roll. But maybe their shared passion for eerie portraits will lead them to add a crown jewel to their collection—when Leonardo da Vinci’s spooky Salvator Mundi hits the auction block this month.

Adrian Ghenie's <i>Self Portrait in 1945</i> (2015). Courtesy of Sotheby's.

Adrian Ghenie’s Self Portrait in 1945 (2015). Courtesy of Sotheby’s.


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