10 Los Angeles Art Power Couples You Need to Know
Here are some of the top players on the scene.
Art and power are two words already synonymous with Los Angeles, though more often than not, associated with the Hollywood set as opposed to the art crowd. But as Los Angeles continues to gain ground as one of the most up and coming (not to mention, important) art hubs globally, it’s time to recognize those within the zip code, but who also remain outside the confines of the movie system (even if it’s only peripherally). Here, in no particular order, are some of the top players on the scene, all of whom happened to be—for lack of a better term—”camera-ready.”
1. Benedikt and Lauren Taschen (Book publisher, art consultant)
German art-book publisher Benedikt Taschen has long been recognized as a seminal force in the publishing and art worlds. Among the many art and fashion books his company Taschen regularly puts out, is Sumo, the iconic tome showcasing the work of photographer Helmut Newton, which came in at 66 pounds and 27.5 inches, and the earlier editions of which can now fetch in the five figures—the companies thickest books are now called sumos in homage (see Annie Leibovitz’s “Sumo” Book Goes Beyond the Coffee Table). His wife Lauren, an international art consultant and former head of VIP relations at Art Basel in Miami Beach, is also integral to the business. Together, their art collection is a motley crew of artists like Tom of Finland, Albert Oehlen, Jeff Koons, and Martin Kippenberger.
2. Shepard and Amanda Fairey (artist, co-founder of Obey Giant)
Shepard Fairey’s sticker campaign “Andre the Giant Has Posse” may have started it all, but it was the Barack Obama “Hope” poster that made the street artist a household name. Further propelling his fame was his pivotal role in the Oscar nominated documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop with fellow artist and pal, the elusive Banksy. His wife Amanda (immortalized by Fairey as “Commanda” for her role in his life and company) oversees the empire of their companies Obey Giant, Studio Number One, and the gallery Subliminal Projects, which regardless of whether Fairey is showcasing his work or one of his many artists, draws a packed house every time. (See Take an Exclusive Look at Shepard Fairey’s Portlandia Cameo.)
3. Mark Ryden and Marion Peck (artists)
Cut from neo-Victorian cloth, painters Mark Ryden and Marion Peck are the king and queen of the Lowbrow/Pop Surrealism art scene. A long time cult figure, Ryden’s latest show in LA was “The Gay 90’s: West,” at Kohn Gallery in 2014. Nearly two years in the making, the show drew over 2,000 attendees the first day. Fellow artist Marion is the yin to Ryden’s yang; stylistically one can see how each influences the other’s work. They are the arbiters of fantasy and exaggerated kitsch, wrapped up in a colorful Victorian epitaph. Collectively, the artists have nearly half a million followers on social media, and their collector roster includes Cliff and Mandy Einstein, singer Katy Perry, and actor Leonardo DiCaprio.
4. Michael Govan and Katherine Ross (museum director at LACMA, fashion consultant)
The director of LACMA for over nine years now, Michael Govan has been integral in putting LA on the map for the art set, with his Art + Film annual gala (hosted by the aforementioned Mr. DiCaprio and Eva Chow). Fashion and luxury brand consultant Katherine Ross, Govan’s wife, is also well entrenched in the LACMA brand as a member of the Director’s Circle. Mr. Govan has a lot at stake in the coming years—a planned expansion of the LACMA campus, adding a 410,000-square-foot facility that will include a 20-acre campus. Building starts in 2018 (if Govan gets the half-billion dollars required to do so). Just about any day you run into Govan on the LACMA campus, he looks like he’s stepped out of the pages of GQ; and together with Katherine (who has done stints at LVMH and Balenciaga), the twosome are considered one of the most stylish couples in LA.
5. Sylvia Chivaratanond and Philippe Vergne (curator, museum director at MOCA)
Brought on to stop the public relations debacle created by previous director Jeffrey Deitch, the former Dia Art Foundation alum Philippe Vergne was voted in unanimously as MOCA LA’s new director in 2014. Until recently the Suzanne Deal Booth Adjunct Curator of American Art for the Centre Pompidou Foundation, Sylvia Chivaratanond (Vergne’s spouse) advised on acquisitions. Some of the works acquired under her tenure include the art of Sterling Ruby, Mark Bradford, Rachel Harrison, Ana Mendieta, Fernanda Gomes, and Alex Israel. Highlights coming up for Vergne include a MOCA gala honoring John Baldessari on May 30th and a solo exhibition of Matthew Barney’s works in September.
6. Stefan Simchowitz and Rosi Riedl (art consultant, former model and muse)
Stefan Simchowitz is a lightning rod for controversy in the art world. The former Aussie model Rosi Riedl—Simchowitz’s ex-wife and current domestic partner—is the power behind the throne for all things “Simco,” including their current residence, which is part home, part salon. Most recently, the collector/consultant/gallerist/provocateur helped the Depart Foundation inaugurate its LA locale, with a display of paintings by Kour Pour. His Svengali-like techniques related to ‘discovering artists’ may have put him in the hot seat recently, but make no mistake—Simco has a keen eye for talent. (See Christopher Glazek Annotates His NYT Stefan Simchowitz Story.)
7. Michael and Eva Chow (restaurateur, co-chair Art+Film gala)
Michael Chow, the 76-year-old restaurateur, collector, and artist (he just had his debut solo exhibition in Beijing—see Michael Chow’s Art Show in Beijing Is Anything But Saucy) moves seamlessly between his various interests: food, art, fashion, and film. LACMA trustee Eva Chow is co-chair (with friend Leonardo DiCaprio) of the museum’s yearly Art+Film Gala, which has become the LA event to rival the Oscars. Under her tutelage, the gala netted $4.1 million in 2013 and $3.85 million in 2014 and regularly brings in stars and collectors alike, including Salma Hayek, Nicolas Berggruen, and Eugene Sadovoy. In addition, Eva is on the board of governors for The Broad—Eli and Edythe Broad’s three-story, $130 million contemporary art museum in downtown LA.
8. Cliff and Mandy Einstein (advertising executive, former nationally ranked tennis player)
Lifelong collectors Cliff and Mandy Einstein’s assemblage of contemporary art certainly has range. Over 80 artists currently hold court in the couple’s collection, among them James Turrell, Sterling Ruby, Kiki Smith, and Mark Grotjahn. Currently, he’s Chairman Emeritus of MOCA LA and holds an honorary PhD from Otis College of Art and Design where he’s been a trustee and lecturer on the creative process and art in today’s society. Their 30 years of collecting has been showcased in virtually every major art publication. Their free-standing Turrell “Skyspace” work (one in an edition of 65) was also the first to enter a private collection in the U.S. Appreciation for the arts also happens to run in the family—Mr. Einstein’s brother is actor Albert Brooks and his sister-in-law is the artist Kimberly Brooks.
9. Tobey Maguire and Jennifer Meyer (actor, jewelry designer)
Jennifer Meyer is a successful jewelry designer, with her works for sale in Barney’s and worn by actresses including Drew Barrymore and Reese Witherspoon. DiCaprio bestie and fellow actor Tobey Maguire has an eye for art (see Art LA Contemporary Steps Up Its International Game and Take a Look Inside Leonardo DiCaprio’s Growing Art Collection). His haunts include the Armory Show and Art Basel in Miami Beach, where, nearly a decade ago, he made the news when he bought a work by Japanese artist Kaz Oshiro. He’s also a fan of Mark Ryden, and the street artist KAWS. Last month, the Maguires put their Brentwood home on the market for $10.3 million; perhaps the couple needs a bigger place to hold their expanding art collection.
10. Eli and Edythe Broad (philanthropists)
Eli and Edythe Broad have been collecting for over 40 years and during that time, have put together a collection of more than 200 artists, including Jasper Johns, Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol, Barbara Kruger, and Roy Lichtenstein. Their Broad Art Foundation has loaned over 8,000 works of art to nearly 500 museums and universities worldwide. Their two foundations have assets valued at $2.7 billion. He is a life trustee and was the founding chairman of The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. He’s also a life trustee of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the California Institute of Technology, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. To top it off, the Broads have a museum with their names on the door (not to mention, it’s designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro), which will open to public this September. Admission? Permanently free.
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