What I Buy and Why: Bronx Museum Trustee Richard Torres on Supporting Artists of Color, and the Picasso He’d Most Love to Pilfer

We caught up with the collector to get a peek into his home.

Richard Torres with Angel Otero's Let's Stay Here (2020). Courtesy Richard Torres.

Richard Torres, a collector and board member of the Bronx Museum of the Arts, fell in love with culture as a child. He would often visit museums with his mother, who, even though she had only a grammar-school education, encouraged her son to pursue his artistic interests.

Later, as a student digging into the foundations of art history, from the Renaissance through Modern to Postmodern art, Torres expanded his interest and began to build a collection with his wife, Kerrie.

We caught up with the collector to hear about his first purchases, what artists he’d like to collect, and where he makes his discoveries.

Richard Torres's collection. Courtesy Richard Torres.

Richard Torres’s collection. Courtesy Richard Torres.

What was your first purchase? 

About 10 years ago, I made my first purchase: lithographs by Jasper Johns and Jim Dine. After collecting these two works, I discovered and started collecting contemporary art with an emphasis on POC, Asian American, and Latinx artists.  

What was your most recent purchase?

I recently obtained a second Kennedy Yanko work. I love how Kennedy mixes oil paint with metal in such a unique way. I have always loved sculpture and am happy I can have one of Kennedy’s works on a wall—so our dog doesn’t reach it! Kennedy is an incredible artist.

Which works or artists are you hoping to add to your collection this year?

Tough question, there are too many great artists to just mention a few names. But I’ll try anyway! I would love to add works by Chase Hall, Maria Fragoso, Hugo McCloud, and Alina Perez.

What is the most expensive work of art that you own?

All that I can say is that I have been fortunate to acquire works by artists early in their careers and the value of some of those pieces has appreciated as those artists have grown.

A work by Alex Gardner hangs in Richard Torres's home. Courtesy Richard Torres.

A work by Alex Gardner hangs in Richard Torres’s home. Courtesy Richard Torres.

Where do you buy art most frequently?

Through art galleries, art fairs, and from meeting emerging artists through Instagram. Great people in the art world like Amanda Uribe, co-founder of Latchkey gallery; Danny Baez, founder of Regular Normal gallery; and Nicole Calderón, founder of AVFTF, have helped me collect works. There are so many great galleries that I go to frequently, such as Lehmann Maupin, Kavi Gupta, Richard Beavers, Derek Eller, and New Image Art.

Is there a work you regret purchasing?

No! I purchase works because I fall in love with them, and I still feel the same.

What work do you have hanging above your sofa? What about in your bathroom?

Above the sofa there is a window, so we can’t hang anything, unfortunately! In the living room area we have works by McArthur Binion, Ludovic Nkoth, Danielle De Jesus, and Angel Otero. 

A work by Dominic Chambers hangs in Richard Torres's home. Courtesy Richard Torres.

A work by Dominic Chambers hangs in Richard Torres’s home. Courtesy Richard Torres.

What is the most impractical work of art you own?

I don’t like to think of any art as impractical. However, the largest three-dimensional works in my collection are sculptures by Kennedy Yanko—they are outstanding!

What work do you wish you had bought when you had the chance?

A work by Jordan Casteel, who is amazing.

If you could steal one work of art without getting caught, what would it be?

Picasso’s Guernica, although it would be impossible to get away with it. I have loved Picasso’s works since I was a kid, and when I finally saw Guernica for the first time in Madrid a few years ago, I was so moved and impressed.

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