Friday, 15 May 2009

The Nasher Collection by Susan C

In October, everything on the agenda is new from 2002's Meeting! The private collections, the hotel, the museums...everything! So far, I have written about Neiman's with the hope you will take the opportunity to see the store or have lunch there.

Two of the museums on the 2009 agenda in Downtown Dallas are named for the men that created and donated these wonderful collections to the citizens of Dallas, the Nasher and the Crow. Not being from Dallas, you may not be familiar with these names, in this blog and the next I will familiarize you with both of these outstanding men.

Ray Nasher, born in 1921, was the only child of a Russian immigrant living in Boston. He attended college at Duke and graduated Phi Beta Kappa. He and his wife, Patsy, moved to Dallas in 1950.

Nasher, a developer, had his biggest success from developing NorthPark Center. He selected land for the development in the early 1960's, directly across the street from the Caruth family's home place where the family still grazed cattle in the fields. Many considered the idea of developing a mall, a bit crazy, since the mall idea was still a new concept.

Opening in 1965, Nasher's big break came when he convinced Stanley Marcus to move his Preston Center store to NorthPark. Northpark thrived and it became the premiere shopping center in the city and remains as one of the most successful businesses in the State.
Though Nasher was successful in the real estate business, his passion was the arts. He and Patsy began to learn about art through reading and traveling, and began to buy pieces of Pre-Columbian art.

In 1967, Patsy made the first major purchase, buying a Jean Arp sculpture for Ray's birthday. He loved the piece and the serious collecting began. Henry Moore, Joan Miro, Alexander Calder works were added to their home. In 1971, Nasher commissioned sculptor, Beverly Pepper, to make a work for NorthPark, since he felt that the Center should be about more than shopping.

Nasher continued to concentrate on sculpture, since he thought the pieces cost less than paintings. So throughout the 1980's and 90's he stepped up his purchasing, adding pieces by Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, as well as, Rodin, Giacometti and Picasso.

After Patsy's death in 1988, he focused more on growing the collection, filling his home, gardens and atriums of his developments. Many museums were contacting Nasher, wanting his collection and there was much speculation about where the collection would eventually be housed. The National Gallery of Art and the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco were very interested in becoming the future home of the sculpture collection. In 1997, the Guggenheim devoted the entire museum to a showing of Nasher's collection. In the 80's, the Dallas Museum of Art constructed a special garden, with the hope, Nasher would keep the works at home in Dallas.

Nasher did decide to leave the collection "where his family was", in Dallas. However, he used his own money, 70 million dollars, to build his own 55,000 square foot museum and sculpture garden, which opened in 2005, adjacent to the DMA.

Indeed, Nasher collected well known artists works, but the names are not what would draw him to a piece, rather it was the strong emotional attachment he would feel with certain works. Like people, he believed sculptures had to be seen from all sides. He deeply believed that art should be a part of people's daily experience. According to Ray Nasher, "Being around great things makes life a little more pleasant."

Raymond Nasher passed away in March of 2007, at the age of 85, leaving a sculpture collection estimated at more than $400 million dollars.

1 comment:

  1. Pics in order: Ashley Priddy Fountain in Highland Park, View of Neiman Marcus inside Northpark Center, Nasher sculpture collection on display in Northpark, DMA sculpture, Nasher Sculpture Garden sculpture, Dallas Museum of Art.