As a former director of Sotheby's contemporary department, Linda Silverman has helped build some of the world's most significant collections of 20th- and 21st-century art, bringing to auction once-in-a-lifetime works that museums would envy. An accomplished collector in her own right, she has also filled her Manhattan home with an exquisite array of pieces by a wide range of artists, from the canonical to the cutting-edge.
Today, working as an art advisor at Linda R. Silverman Fine Art, Silverman counsels her clients on putting together selections of important work for their homes that bridge time periods, creating environments that are suffused with culture and history. And while some advisors look down on the decorative aspects of home curation—how to balance a painting with a piece of furniture, for instance—she embraces these challenges with relish.
To find out how Silverman would go about outfitting a Park Avenue apartment—a common precinct for her clients—with art, we asked her to select a few works on Artspace and explain how she would deploy them.
Your collection is a compelling mix of elegant works by world-renown artists like Kiki Smith and Andy Warhol and provocative pieces by emerging stars like David Shrigley and Josh Smith. How did you select the works in this collection?
It's always challenging to advise new clients and discover their aesthetics and work within their budgets. In organizing collections, it's exciting to mix established and iconic artists with younger ones. This creates an energized dialogue across the generations while at the same time focusing the client on the art of today. For this collection I used that same model.
How would you envision displaying these in a Park Avenue apartment?
For this Park Avenue apartment, I selected Warhol's Liz, James Rosenquist's Cabeza de Vaca, Sorcerer, and photographs by Petros Chrisostomou to create a dynamic dialogue in the living room. These works make a bold statement in their use of strong color and imagery. For a subtler palette, I selected a print by Enoc Perez and a Kiki Smith sculpture to create a relaxing ambience in the dining room. For the library/office, I chose two text works by David Shrigley and Josh Smith, which play well with Marilyn Minter's figurative photograph. This space is both playful and edgy.
As an art collector yourself who lives with a vibrant and wide-ranging collection of work, you have deep first-hand experience with situating art in the home. What are a few of things you consider when deciding how to arrange your collection on the walls?
It's an ongoing process, as I am constantly looking at art and often cannot resist buying it myself. With each new acquisition, the apartment needs to be rehung—and so the fun begins. I also advise my clients to do the same, as this breathes new life into their collections. Supervising the installation process in the client's home guarantees that the works look their best. In this way, the visual excitement of living with art is created.
How do you feel art should be incorporated with decor—as in furnishings and design objects—in the home?
The art, furniture, and design objects should always complement each other and never distract from the importance of each. Scale and placement of the art in relation to the furniture and objects is of prime importance. For example, small drawings and paintings should not be placed in large spaces where they become lost. Similarly, large works should have room to breathe and not be hidden by furniture or objects.
What are a few tastefully appointed domestic spaces you've seen that have inspired your approach to displaying art?
Recently, I was delighted to visit collectors in the Time Warner building and enjoy a tour of their extraordinary duplex apartment, which includes a large terrace. It was inspiring to see the blending of antiquities with 20th-century and contemporary sculpture, and large-scale paintings and drawings with Art Deco furniture. The placement of the works was key to the overall harmony in the apartment. This exquisite home, with its visual pleasures, inspired me to continue to advise collectors to mix periods, styles, and media.
And, of course, throughout my many years working with Sotheby's, I was privileged to have seen extraordinary collections in the U.S. as well as in Europe.
Who are some of the artists that you collect yourself?
Over the years, I have lived with work by Albers, Cornell, de Kooning, Picasso, and many others. Currently, in my living room I am enjoying a Kiki Smith bronze bird, a Basquiat drawing, an Xavier Veilhan polyurethane self-portrait sculpture, a Jessica Rankin embroidery wall hanging, a Zhou Tiehai painting, a microphone by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, and photographs by Petros Chrisostomou.