Features The Top 200 Collectors

The ARTnews 200 Top Collectors: Sherry and Joel Mallin

A couple that likes to say that they collect art–but they really collect artists

How would you describe your collecting style?

Joel: Haphazard.

Sherry: We have no agenda, but there are four or five themes that dominate the collection. If you’re astute, by the time you leave here you know everything about us. We don’t have to agree to buy, but today we agree probably 95 percent of the time. I was not in favor of the Richard Serra outdoor sculpture we commissioned. I thought it was rather masculine and ugly at the time. It’s since become one of my favorite pieces.


The Mallins.


Are you friends with any of the artists you collect?

Sherry: I like to say that we collect art, but we really collect the artists. Many of the young artists we started with in the 1980’s live with us when they’re in the area. Even when they’ve outgrown us in terms of collecting, we still maintain very close friendships.

Do you remember the first important piece you bought?

Sherry: A Donald JuddStack,” because it wasn’t almost a landscape or almost representational. It was what it was. It was a huge leap to being willing to buy abstraction and move out of the more traditional.

Andy Goldsworthy, Wood Through Wall, 1993. COURTESY COLLECTION OF SHERRY AND JOEL MALLIN

Andy Goldsworthy, Wood Through Wall, 1993.


Do you have a favorite in the collection?

Sherry: The Goldsworthy outdoor wall with the tree embedded in it. He built a layer of a wall upon a wall that existed. Over the course of time the tree has rotted, and this year the wall has collapsed. We are not supposed to rebuild the wall because you have to have faith that future generations will lay their wall on top of our wall, as we’ve laid ours on top of the past.

Joel: It’s a piece that we commissioned. You can’t move it, you can’t sell it, it has no economic value, and it’s falling down—and yet it’s a brilliant piece.

Do you have any works that are difficult to live with?

Sherry: We don’t think so but everyone else does. We have a lot of works that deal with death and with aging.

Joel: We have Huma Bhabha’s Orientalist (2007), a bronze of the king sitting in a chair who is obviously dead.

See the complete list of The 2013 ARTnews 200 Top Collectors.

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