What was the first significant piece in your collection, and how has your approach evolved?
Michael: We had been collecting regional art, and we stepped it up a notch in 1984 when we purchased an Agnes Martin painting.
Jeanne: Agnes changed our esthetic. After living with that painting, White on White, we really became more minimal. We had to rebuild our house, change our garden, everything. In the last ten years, we’ve been commissioning more installation art, working with artists including Olafur Eliasson, Andy Goldsworthy, Paula Hayes, and Teresita Fernandez.
Michael : Our ultimate goal is to donate our entire collection to a museum.
What are some recent acquisitions?
Jeanne: We just bought a sculpture by Giuseppe Penone, who we’re in love with right now, and we’re working on installations by Kate Shepherd and Jason Middlebrook.
Do you have things installed in unusual places?
Jeanne: The James Turrell Skyspace is in the middle of our house in Austin, Texas. The house was built around the sky piece. Our Do Ho Suh is in the lake, as are two Roy McMakin chairs. Roy designed all our living room and outdoor furniture. The installation starts out in the lake where it looks like there’s a chair that fell in the water. Then you come in the house and see the same chairs and couches. People sometimes who come by in their boats and say, “Do you know you’ve got a chair in the water?”
Are any of your works challenging to live with?
Michael: Alfredo Jaar did a lightbox piece of gold miners in Brazil. Andreas Gursky did a photograph of people living in a trash dump in Mexico. Ed and Nancy Kienholz showed a child living in poverty from every continent. We have their photograph of a young black American girl with a collage made out of found objects from around her house. These pieces are constant reminders of the dire conditions under which many people live.
See the complete list of The 2013 ARTnews 200 Top Collectors.