Repositories of works of art, and other cultural artifacts, have been making their treasures accessible to the general public for some time now, come what may. After the initial shock, as Covid-19 restrictions increasingly encroached on our freedom of movement and ability to enjoy the aforesaid exhibits firsthand, in museums and galleries, the advent of online access has pretty much become de rigueur.
And now more private collectors are beginning to unfurl some of the pieces of art they have so lovingly gathered from all corners of the world, for our remote, Internet-based viewing pleasure.
There are now a slew of virtual exhibition platforms across the digital universe proffering a broad array of works across all kinds of temporal stylistic, disciplinary and ethnic-cultural domains. Israeli art collector and businessman Igal Ahouvi is right there in the vanguard of computer-user friendly access facilitating endeavor, overseen by London-based compatriot curator Matan Daube.
Both, clearly, have eclectic tastes as conveyed in Ahouvi’s blog, and on his website, both of which are in English.
The Ahouvi assemblage crosses cultural, geographic, and philosophical boundaries across a wide swathe of contemporary creations. And if you want to get a decent handle on what this country has had to offer over the past half-century or so, the Ahouvi web site wouldn’t be a bad place to start. Incorporating some 1,000 works, his accumulated treasures represent one of this country’s largest private collections, with Israeli artists enjoying pride of place. There, you can find the fruits of the creative labors of the likes of 40-year-old Haifa-born multidisciplinary artist Gili Avissar, internationally lauded 80-year-old sculptor Micha Ullman, 54-year-old painter Avner Ben-Gal, 86-year-old Israel Prize laureate sculptor and painter Igael Tumarkin, and fellow iconic – and rabble-rouser – sculptor and painter Moshe Gershuni who died in 2017 at the age of 80.
But there’s plenty more where that came from, with offshore offerings by such modern-day titans as American photographer Diane Arbus, who died in 1971 at the age of 48, 62-year-old minimalist-leaning Polish sculpture, video artist and installation creator Miroslaw Balka, Dutch-American abstract expressionist painter Willem de Kooning, Russian modern art pioneer Wassily Kandinsky, early 20th-century Austrian figurative painter Egon Schiele, and septuagenarian Japanese photographer and sculpture Hiroshi Sugimoto.
The Ahouvi collection also includes works by the famous – there are a handful of items by pop art envelope pusher Andy Warhol in the lineup – and some who are not quite as well known, such as Welsh conceptual artist Cerith Wyn Evans.
Ahouvi’s blog provides some some astute observations about the state of the market and which way the trading winds are blowing. There is also some tailored thematic material to be perused, focusing on individual works, as well as common topical ground between different items. The Perspectives section, for example, features the Behind Her Back selection of photographs, paintings, and drawings showing women from the back, while the Tamed Nature in Israeli Art presents a varied take on flora across the years, with creations by the likes of the late leading abstract expressionist artist and educator Raffi Lavie, 38-year-old archival-fueled artist Ella Littwitz and 50-year-old photographer David Adika.
Ahouvi has also been doing his bit to support struggling artists for a while which is, of course, all the more important and appreciated in these challenging lockdown times. Recently Igal provided financial to a special support fund to assist struggling artists during the corona crisis.
The Broad has also embraced the online showing approach with gusto. The museum of that name was founded by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles, in a striking edifice opened in 2015. When it is open for business, the 120,000-square-foot building offers members of the public free admission to two floors of gallery space and also serves as the headquarters of The Broad Art Foundation’s worldwide lending library, which has been loaning collection works to museums around the world since 1984.
The Broad web site contains an abundance of information about some of the exhibits that, in normal times, can be seen close up. Take, for example, Sherry Levine’s Fountain (Buddha), for example, comes with a light-hearted explanatory video explaining the historical and philosophical baggage behind the inspiration for Levine’s urinal-based work and referencing Marcel Duchamp’s readymade art breakthrough in the early 20th century.
The Broad specializes in art from the 1950s to the present time and includes some of the earliest pictures by American abstract expressionist painter and printmaker Sam Francis, from the 1950s and 1960s. Influential 75-year-old German painter and sculptor Anselm Kiefer is well represented in the collection and on the web site, with a slew of works covering four decades from 1971, as is nonagenarian Japanese multidisciplinary artist Yayoi Kusama.
And, while we’re in the evolutionary environs of contemporary art, the London-based Zabludowicz Collection is certainly worth a mention or two. As its website states, the initiative feeds off a commitment to generate “a vibrant and sustainable ecology for art.” The organization, in particular, has been nurturing a growing portfolio of contemporary art, focusing on the work of artists as they take their initial steps outside the protective hothouse environment of the academic world.
The Collection web site’s Digital section offers downloads of an eclectic range of art, including works by British multidisciplinary artist Tracey Emin, 30-year-old Canadian artist Chloe Wise who spreads her creative gifts across the painting, sculpture, video, and drawing fields, and London resident French post-minimalist abstract artist Nicholas Deshayes.
The web site is a rich treasure trove of aesthetics and informative textual support, with a whole host of ideas for fun creative pursuits in the lock down-compliant domestic surroundings, and an entertaining series of videos with interviews with actors, art dealers, writers, and curators. And just in case you wanted to get some more learned insight into what makes artists tick and their oeuvre, you can dip into some of the tomes that sit on the current inaccessible Zabludowicz Collection library shelves.
Stepping beyond the confines of western artistic endeavor, the DSL Collection, created by Parisian couple Sylvain and Dominique Lévy, provides some insight into the fascinating realms of Chinese contemporary art. The web site contains illuminating information about some of China’s leading lights as Ai Weiwei, Zeng Fanzhi, 50-year-old multidisciplinary artist Zheng Guogu 58-year-old geometric abstraction mover and shaker Ding Yi.
And there is more, much more, to be had in the way of online artistic pleasure and enlightenment courtesy of the digital platforms of such go-getter cultural enterprises as the Brant Foundation Art Study Center in New York, Fondazione Prada’s Finite Rants online project of a series of visual essays by filmmakers, artists, intellectuals and scholars, the upbeat Stefan Simchowitz Collection and the time-based media art collection overseen by German art collector Julia Stoschek.
If you can’t get to the art in person and, yes, digital viewing is not a complete substitute for the real thing, virtual presentations, with the wealth of images and explanatory commentaries they offer, aren’t a bad second.
For more information:
Igal Ahouvi Art Collection: www.igalahouviartcollection.com
Igal Ahouvi Art Collection’s Blog: https://www.ahouviartblog.com/en, https://www.ahouviartblog.com/en/igal-ahouvi/
Zabludowicz Collection: https://www.zabludowiczcollection.com/whats-on/digital
Eli and Edythe Broad Collection: https://www.thebroad.org/broadfromhome
Sylvain and Dominique Lévy collection (DSL): http://g1expo.com/v2/#/temporary-exhibition
Peter Brant’s collection: https://brantfoundation.org/
Fondazione Prada: http://www.fondazioneprada.org/project/finiterants/?lang=en
Stefan Simchowitz collection: https://www.simcosclub.com/
Julia Stoschek Collection: https://www.jsc.art/collection/
This article was written in cooperation with the Igal Ahouvi Art Collection