Artnet Innovators and North Dakota Collectors Rob and Eric Thomas-Suwall Select Their Favorite Works From Artnet Galleries

The couple became interested in collecting art after seeing a David Hockney retrospective in San Francisco.

Rob and Eric Thomas-Suwall.

Rob and Eric Thomas-Suwall, a surgeon and a political theory professor who live in Minot, North Dakota, are anything but typical collectors.

After seeing a David Hockney retrospective at the de Young Museum in San Francisco while on their honeymoon, they became interested in collecting art.  

“We bought our first piece in 2016, a painting by Corydon Cowansage, after seeing her work featured on Artnet,” the duo tells us.

Since then, they have built a collection, which they share on their Instagram account, @TheIcyGays, that includes works by artists such as Hein Koh, Jessie Makinson, and Sarah Slappey.

We had a chance to sit down with Rob and Eric, who were recently named Artnet Innovators in the latest edition of the Artnet Intelligence Report, to chat about their recently acquired artworks, what they’re currently reading, and their favorite works available right now on Artnet Galleries.

Rob and Eric’s Favorite Things

Movie: Fargo (obviously).

Restaurant: Atomix.

Bucket-list destination: The Maldives.

Artist: Salman Toor.

Local museum: The Walker. 

Recent TV show: Fleabag.

Book you have read during quarantine: Eric – The Three-Body ProblemRob – Ninth Street Women.

Emoji: ?

Food to eat for breakfast: Bob’s Red Mill Muesli.

Way to celebrate success: Fine wine.

Recently acquired work in your collection: Dirt God by Kyle Dunn.

Thing about living in North Dakota: Fruit from our home orchard.


Rob and Eric’s Gallery Picks

“We found early on that we responded to works by female and queer artists and this has become a focus of our collection. As a couple, we tend to balance each other out, as Rob is attracted more to provocative figurative work, while Eric has a preference for abstract, intellectual pieces. We are inspired by any artist exposing social realities obstructed or obscured by existing norms, like David Wojnarowicz or Robin Williams. The goal of our collection is to provide people the opportunity to see the world in a different way through the lens of art.” — Rob and Eric Thomas-Suwall


David Wojnarowicz
Untitled (Time and Money) from Ant Series (1989)

Courtesy of Gracie Mansion.


Inka Essenhigh
New Condos (2016)

Courtesy of Miles McEnery Gallery.


Jennifer Guidi
A Thousand Petals (2019)

Courtesy of Gagosian.


Michael Craig-Martin
Baseball Cap (2019)

Courtesy of David Benrimon Fine Art, LLC.


Josef Albers
SP X (1967)

Courtesy of Susan Sheehan Gallery.


Lee Bontecou
Etching One (1967)

Courtesy of Elizabeth Clement Contemporary.


Robin F. Williams
Sunday Player (2016)

Courtesy of P.P.O.W.

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