past exhibitions

Conversations: Artist and Collector
The Collection of James Cottrell and Joseph Lovett

May 19 - July 29, 2007

Jim Cottrell and Joe Lovett, who live and work in New York City, have been collecting art since 1976. They began by forging personal relationships with artists, which, in turn, evolved into long-term commitments to their work. The aesthetic of the collection is overridingly in favor of painting—usually abstractions with a built- up surface of paint. Some of the finer works in this category include paintings by Donald Baechler, Jean Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Deborah Kass, Jonathan Lasker, Suzanne McClelland, and Malcolm Morley. The collection offers an in-depth look at many of the artists, often through three or more examples of their work. The focus of the collection includes artists working in the United States, Spain, and France, and includes Miguel Barceló, Roland Flexner, David Hockney, Barton Lidice Benes, and Edouard Prulhiere.

Some of the finest pieces in their collection - examples by Jean Michel Basquiat, for instance - were purchased before the artist had achieved recognition. In reflecting on how the collection began, Joe Lovett notes, "The work I originally collected was given to me by friends. I never had a desire to own grand or expensive works. I am just as happy to see it in a museum as on my own walls. But one day, Jim said to me, 'If we don’t buy it, how will the artist survive?'"

The collection of James Cottrell and Joseph Lovett will open at the North Dakota Museum of Art in celebration of the beginning of a national fund drive to endow a Barton Lidice Benes Study Center in the Museum. Ultimately, the contents of Benes’s Westbeth apartment in New York City will become the North Dakota Museum of Art’s first period room: a twenty-first century artist’s studio. Amongst Benes’s own art works are the endless embodiments of the spirits of both the living and the dead, including collections of African and Egyptian art, textiles and carvings from four continents, trades with artist friends, hoards of relics and fragments, a voodoo altar, skulls and stuffed animals, and on and on. According to the artist, “My apartment has become a huge reliquarium—something I now realize I’ve modeled after the Egyptian rooms of the American Museum of Natural History in New York that I visited so often as a child.” Long time friends, Cottrell and Lovett have supported Benes’s artistic life for years.