Museum of Contemporary Art receives 100 works from collector

Although he’s relatively young, he said, “I want to be proactive. People don’t only die of very old age. So the idea of ​​me not being here one moment and having left a big question to my inheritors about what is to be done with it is unfair to them, it’s unfair to the artists, it’s unfair to the artworks.”

He added: “It is really a longstanding conviction of mine that these artworks deserve to be out there, accessible to as wide a public as possible, and do their job to interact with people and create emotions and create inspiration to art lovers,” he said.

The relationship with the MCA owes both to his respect for Grynsztejn, Daskalopoulos said, and to his fond memories of living here while earning and MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in 1980 and 1981.

“It was the first time I lived outside Greece for a longer time,” he said. “I was just married at the time, I had my first child in Chicago. And so I have my favorite basketball team, my preferred pizza, my preferred place for ribs. . . .And then, there is Madeleine Grynsztejn, who became a friend, who had me on her board of trustees (beginning in 2016). I admire the work she’s doing and the way she’s managing the museum.”

Each of the sets of works being donated represents a cross-section of the D. Daskalopoulos Collection, he said. And he noted that pieces tend toward being larger scaled and “visceral.”

The complete list of donated works has not yet been announced, but the sampling of what is going to the MCA-Guggenheim pairing includes such materials as human hair, animal pelts, wine and clove, cumin and turmeric.

Daskalopoulos allows that it is “not a beautiful collection,” but it is one very concerned with the human body “as the locus of existence and where everything that we do or feel comes from.”

Both institutions worked with the collector to select pieces that worked to fill in holes and augment strengths in their existing collections, Grynsztejn said. In the MCA’s case, the works have “an immensely important art historical focus on the 1980s and 1990s,” she said. “That precise period is the bedrock period for the new emerging generation of art historians, curators and artists.”

Although traditional museum directorship would see institutions being loath to share bragging rights to art from a major collector, Grynsztejn says she sees the art-sharing as an opportunity and perhaps as a new, more sensible model for the discipline going forward.

“And that puts two museums on a par with each other,” she said, noting that any credit line will note the joint Guggenheim-MCA Chicago ownership. “That is very flattering, and I think important. So it’s a different kind of bragging right.”

Bigger picture, she said, “by centering collaboration between two major institutions, it will facilitate the creation of ideas and knowledge.”

Yet to be worked out are such practical considerations as where the work will be stored and how the museums will handle, for instance, a desire to show Hammons’ stone, steel rail track and human hair sculpture titled John Henry at the same time.

“I have a very long and trusting relationship with (the Guggenheim’s) director, Richard Armstrong,” Grynsztejn said. “My hope is that this unprecedented establishment of a shared museum partnership model will become a standard for many philanthropic considerations in the future.

“You get basically double the scholarship, double the number of curatorial eyes on a great collection. . . double the audience in different geographic regions,” Grynsztejn said.

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