Our Crowd

record (setting) collectors. part 9: Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

From the pages of AVENUE’s May issue…

Secrets from inside the collections of the biggest contemporary art enthusiasts in the picture

By Lorinda Ash

New York is the center of the contemporary art world, overrun with collectors, artists, galleries, private dealers, advisors, framers, shippers, writers, magazines and auction houses. No longer the secret hobby of a wealthy elite, collecting contemporary has gone mainstream. From Park Avenue to Park Slope, with budgets limitless and limited, people are now interested in buying art both for pleasure and investment. But no matter how widespread the pursuit, there remains a handful of choice collectors whose opinions, purchases, institutional support and trend-setting savoir faire influence what others buy and sell. Their homes could be mistaken for galleries or museums, and their calendars are filled with the biggest openings and benefits in the city. Everyone from gallerists to dealers is vying to have their ear because not just anyone has their eye. These are New York’s most wanted collectors.

Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel

Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel has created an unparalleled modern and contemporary drawings collection. Drawing as a medium, she believes, embodies the essence of the artist’s work—just as essays, which she and husband advertising legend Ambassador Carl Spielvogel also admire (they give an annual PEN Award for the best collection of essays), reflect the true intent of the creator. Gracing the couple’s magnificent Park Avenue apartment and Southampton homes is a very personal and highly sophisticated collection of works on paper, from Freud to Picasso to Lichtenstein to Twombly to Johns and others too numerous to name. Diamonstein-Spielvogel is also her own curator, framer and installer. In her spare time, the vice-chair of The New York State Council on the Arts has been hard at work on her 20th book, the illustrated encyclopedia Landmarks New York, Volume V, to be published in September accompanied by an 11-city traveling museum tour throughout the state.


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by Debbie BancroftPhotographed by Griffin Lipson and Hunter Abrams/BFA.com