guest curator

Alice Sachs Zimet

Alice Sachs Zimet is a collector, advisor and educator. She began to collect photography in 1985, and her collection of nearly 300 images includes 20th Century masters through the present.

Alice was recently featured in the Collector Profile of Art+Auction magazine. She stresses that collecting requires due diligence. “If you want to be a collector, you have to create a circle of friends, a circle of trust,” she explains. 

Alice lives and works in New York City and is Chair of the Photography Collections Committee at the Harvard Art Museums; Board Member of the Magnum Foundation; Member of the  International Center of Photography’s (ICP) Acquisitions Committee; and involved with Friends Without a Border, an auction to benefit the Angkor Hospital for Children in Cambodia and Laos Hospital for Children.

Well recognized and well respected, Alice teaches collecting classes at museums and schools across the United States. Classes are geared for those interested in collecting photography as well as for photographers looking to get their work out into the marketplace.  In addition to teaching, Alice advises collectors on purchases and coaches photographers on their communication tools.

In 1999, Alice founded Arts + Business Partners to consult on issues of corporate sponsorship.  Alice works with both non-profit groups as well as business sponsors and is an accomplished lecturer, regularly teaching for Americans for the Arts and the U.S. Department of State. She is Adjunct Professor, Graduate Program, Arts Administration, at New York University.


The Print Atelier: You started your career first as a Summer Intern at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and then immediately ran the Summer Intern Program. How did that happen?

Alice Sachs Zimet: Immediately upon graduating university, I had a summer internship at the Metropolitan Museum. That fall, I was in the right place at the right time. The museum downsized and let go of a substantial number of employees. And somehow, at the age 22, I went from being a summer intern to running the summer intern program while I was in graduate school. And the rest is history, as they say.

You are considered one of the early pioneer collectors of photography. How did that happen and how did you begin ?

Early in my career, I was also an intern at the International Center of Photography during its inaugural year (1975). And I have stayed connected to ICP ever since. In roughly 1984, I was on an ICP field trip with the art historian, curator and photography collector Sam Wagstaff (and the partner of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe). Sam had lent a portion of his collection to the Parrish Art Museum (on Long Island) with a focus on images with flowers. And, I fell in love with one by Andrew Bush. However, I couldn’t buy just one. I had to buy two… thinking that a pair would look even nicer. That should have given me a ‘head’s up’ that I had the collecting bug. And, I’ve been collecting ever since.

Could you explain the different ways you are involved in the art photography scene in the US?

First, I am a collector. I began to collect in 1985 and now have roughly 300 images in the collection, most of which are on the walls in my NYC apartment. (That is, I don’t have storage but am clearly at the tipping point !) Next, I am an educator. I teach classes at museums and schools across the United States — classes for those interested in collecting photography as well as workshops for photographers looking to get their images out into the marketplace. I also regularly am a portfolio reviewer at art fairs and festivals. Finally, as an advisor, I help collectors with purchases as well as coachphotographers on their communication tools. A nice Collector Profile was recently featured in Art+Auction magazine that touches on these different hats.

Of the roughly 300 photographs in your collection, how would you describe your collection? Do you have any themes?

My collection includes 20th Century masters through the present including Avedon, Brassai, Hockney, Mapplethorpe, Cindy Sherman, Cartier Bresson, Kertesz, Serrano, Vik Muniz, Lisette Model, William Klein, Berenice Abbott, and of course the Canadian Edward Burtynsky, to name a few. Many images are black and white portraits — strong, emotional humanistic portraits of people living their lives. I also have about 30 portraits of artists as well as many images with references to art history (given my early career in the museum world and my degrees in art history.)

Do you attend photography auctions on a regular basis? Do you mainly buy through art dealers, directly from artists or at auctions?

I buy from all sources — galleries, auctions, art fairs — as well as at non-profit benefit auctions which is a wonderful way to support a favorite charity and buy a great piece of art. In terms of auctions, I love to buy over the phone… you are part of the action but don’t necessarily have to sit in the room. You can stay home in your pajamas !

Do you see most of the major shows and attend gallery openings?
I do try and see major museum shows in NYC as well as exhibitions in cities whenever I travel.  And I do go to many gallery openings as well. The photography world is actually a small community and part of the fun is seeing the same people at gallery openings, art fairs and auction previews. People may change jobs, but they never leave the field!

What’s trending these days in art photography? What are collectors and dealers looking for?

I think this is a very personal question… just like collecting! What is ‘trending’ to one collector might not be to another…

Do you keep an eye on the emerging scene? What or who ’s interesting right now?

I have a tendency to be a little bit more old fashioned, i.e., I like older more established artists and often vintage prints. That said, one of my most recent purchases are three black and white portraits by South African photographer and activist, Zanele Muholi. Zanele has been documenting the LBGTQ black community in South Africa since the mid 2000′s, represented her country at the 2013 Venice Biennale, and recently had a solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum.

What are you especially excited about for this year on the photography scene?

I always love going to the Paris Photo fair at the Grand Palais. Of all of the art fairs, that is my favorite. Mid November can be cold and rainy in Paris, but the fair is well worth it!

Professionally, you are a ‘corporate sponsorship’ consultant. What does that mean and how have you gained your expertise?

After working in the museum world, early in my career, I was hired (the day that I was interviewed) by The Chase Manhattan Bank to work in their Philanthropy Group where I was in charge of all giving to charities except what the bank did in the fields of education and hospitals. After 7 years, I moved over to Marketing and created the first sponsorship program in a commercial bank, now a model in the field. Without knowing it, I became a pioneer in the field of corporate sponsorship in the United States. As Director, Worldwide Cultural Affairs, I worked across 14 countries, 20 American cities and generated over $2 billion in new business using the arts as a strategic marketing tool.

In 1999, I founded Arts + Business Partners to consult on issues of corporate sponsorship. As an insider, I work with both non-profit groups as well as business sponsors – a ‘fundraising therapist’ for arts groups and a ‘strategic matchmaker’ for business. In addition, I lecture regularly on the subject and am an Adjunct Professor at New York University. It is fun to have insider knowledge and to share it with arts groups and business sponsors so that each side is a little smarter and more strategic.

We are very happy to have you as our guest curator at TPA! That’s why we have to ask: what elements will you look for when reviewing your artwork selection from The Print Atelier’s artists to create your curated collection?

I don’t know if there are specific elements but I looked at the different artists and portfolios.
And here are just a few images and artists that caught my eye:
Hector Adalid – I loved his series on Japan, especially Japan 04, where you are not sure if you are looking at cherry blossoms or snow on a branch. The fact that it is in black and white makes it unclear such a mysterious way. And the serenity is beautiful.

Réjean Meloche – Loved the series called ‘L’Agitation tranquille’.  I do love black and white images and there is also great humor in these:  the upside down ambulance and the dog sitting on a car in the snow.   There is a great sense of people watching which is terrific like the two kids sitting on a stoop with their cats, the man with the pigeons as well as the Fêtes Italiennes with all of the little girls lined up in the angel like costumes.

From your point of view, what makes The Print Atelier different and interesting for collectors? 

I love the tips ‘‘Living with Art” – it is terrific way to present your artists showcasing what artwork might look like in a living room or bedroom… you can just imagine what the art will look like in your own apartment or house!

I also like the fact that there is a great range of artists and styles to choose from and the fact that the images come in at least two edition sizes. Finally, your prices are reasonable which is very attractive to any collector.

Thank you Alice!

LET US KNOW IF YOU’D LIKE ALICE TO COME TO CANADA!

ALICE TEACHES COLLECTING CLASSES AT MUSEUMS, PHOTO FAIRS AND SCHOOLS ACROSS THE UNITED STATES AND WOULD BE OPEN TO ORGANIZE WORKSHOPS IN MONTREAL, TORONTO AND OTHER MAJOR CANADIAN CITIES. CLASSES ARE GEARED FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN COLLECTING PHOTOGRAPHY AS WELL AS FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS LOOKING TO GET THEIR WORK OUT INTO THE MARKETPLACE. ALICE ALSO ADVISES COLLECTORS ON PURCHASES AND COACHES PHOTOGRAPHERS ON THEIR COMMUNICATION TOOLS. IF YOU WOULD BE INTERESTED IN SETTING THIS UP PLEASE CONTACT INFO@THEPRINTATELIER.COM.