In Collaboration with Aspen Art Museum
In Collaboration with Aspen Art Museum

Jane and Marc Nathanson on Andy Warhol and Collecting

The collectors — and long-term supporters of the Aspen Art Museum — talk to Rebecca Ann Siegel about their passion

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BY Jane & Marc Nathanson AND Rebecca Ann Siegel in Collaborations , Interviews | 20 JAN 22

Jane and Marc Nathanson's Aspen pad is home to works by Ed Ruscha and Damien Hirst, but in their Los Angeles home, you can’t miss the presence of Andy Warhol, with some of his choicest works represented in their collection.

Portrait of Jane and Marc Nathanson, with Andy Warhol, Double Elvis (1964), Los Angeles, October 202
Portrait of Jane and Marc Nathanson, with Andy Warhol, Double Elvis,1964, Los Angeles, October 2021. Photo: Ye Rin Mok; © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

Rebecca Ann Siegel I wanted to begin with your relationship to Aspen and ask how you came to start spending time there?

Jane Nathanson While going to the University of Denver, we would go up on the weekends. It was a totally different place at that time to how it is now — wide open spaces and just a few restaurants and hotels. But we loved Colorado and the mountains, and we always thought one day, if we were lucky enough to be able to afford a second home, that’s where we’d want it to be.

RAS And did you put roots down in Aspen after you’d already moved to Los Angeles full-time?

Marc Nathanson Yes. We’d been going there over Christmas with our kids for many years, and then we decided to buy a house.

RAS At that time, I would say that Aspen’s art scene wasn’t thriving in the way it is today.

JN It was not. But there were a few very good collectors who had homes there that were friends of ours. The Aspen Art Museum wasn’t necessarily a great mecca for art in those days, but a lot of the homes there had really wonderful collections.

RAS Jane, your work on museum boards in LA is extensive, but tell me a little bit about how you became involved with the museum in Aspen, and how it came to be a bigger part of your lives.

JN It was easy for the Aspen Art Museum to become a big part of our lives. For a small town, Aspen is very cultured, with a lot of people who love music and art, besides all the active opportunities that Aspen offers. So, it was natural for Marc and me to be involved. Many years ago, we started supporting the Artist in Residence program. This allowed new artists to come to Aspen and work in this special, spiritual, beautiful place, for a month. Then, when the museum’s new building was under construction in town, we got a little bit more involved. And we’re so excited about this Andy Warhol show, because we’re such huge fans of Warhol. So, that was an obvious thing for us to support.

RAS I imagine this exhibition will draw an audience from a far wider community — from Denver and other places, too — and afford many people the opportunity to see art that isn’t otherwise accessible locally.

MN Well, Jane always talks about the two most important artists of our lifetime as being Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol. So, I think people in Colorado, or even Utah or Wyoming, will make a special trip to Aspen to come see the show.

Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait (Shockwig) (1986) in the home of Jane and Marc Nathanson, Los Angeles, October 2021.
Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait (Shockwig), 1986, and Alexander Calder, Nine Discs, of which, One Vertical, 1967, in the home of Jane and Marc Nathanson, Los Angeles, October 2021. Photo: Ye Rin Mok; ​​© The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc
​​​​​​© 2022 Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
 

RAS You have a beautiful Warhol collection and you are generously lending a work to the exhibition. Is it the Double Elvis (1964) that you are loaning?

JN We own a Double Elvis but we are actually lending our Two Marilyns (1962).

RAS When did Two Marilyns come into your collection?

JN Oh, you can’t ask us dates: we don’t remember! A long time ago. We started collecting Warhol at the end of the 1960s, when his work was a lot more affordable than it is today. We feel very fortunate that we had the eye to choose these pieces when really, they weren’t very popular at the time. We also have Large Campbell’s Soup Can (1965), Self-Portrait (Shockwig) (1986), Hamburger (1986), Double Elvis, Two Marilyns and a few Jean-Michel Basquiat-Warhol collaborations. Warhol was hot in New York at the end of the 1960s, but he didn’t have the market recognition that he developed later on. So, we were fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.

Works by Andy Warhol: Brillo Boxes (Set of 3) (1968), Large Campbell’s Soup Can (1965)
Andy Warhol, Brillo Boxes (Set of 3), 1968 and Large Campbell’s Soup Can, 1965. Photo: Ye Rin Mok; © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

MN All credit has to go to Jane because she really had the eye. When we were first married, we agreed that we would collect art and it would be something we would do together. But Jane has a terrific background — her parents were collectors, she was an art major and so when we lived in New York, from1973–75, we went to lots of galleries, we hung out with a lot of artists and I really think our collection started to take shape during those years.

RAS Did you buy Two Marilyns from a gallery or later at auction?

JN Honestly, I don’t remember if we bought it from Leo [Castelli], or if we bought it at auction, because we buy at both. Our weekends in New York were usually spent pushing the stroller through different galleries and, of course, Leo Castelli was, at that time, the gallery in New York.

Andy Warhol, Two Marylins
Andy Warhol, Two Marilyns, 1962. Photo: Ye Rin Mok; © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

RAS Do you live with the painting normally? Is it hanging in your home?

JN They’re all hanging in our home. We live with them, and one day, hopefully, they’ll go to a museum.

MN We also lend to museums and shows. We have three different homes, so there’s art in all of them.

RAS I think that, when you live with art for many years, you sometimes see things that other people don’t get to see. Is there something about Two Marilyns that holds a place in your heart? When you first saw it, or even now when you’re looking at it all these years later?

JN We love it. It’s silver and black, it’s a beautiful piece and the museum didn’t have a Marilyn for the show.

MN We have very colorful works, other than the Double Elvis, and so the black and white appealed to Jane when we first saw it, because it was so unique.

A collaboration between Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basqiat, GE Tobacco Section (1984–85)
A collaboration between Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, GE Tobacco Section, 1984–85. Photo: Ye Rin Mok

RAS You are iconic collectors because you are discerning. You are looking for the ideal work by an artist and are willing to wait for it, which is indicative of a patience and a long- term commitment that maybe not every collector shares. I am curious if there are younger artists that have caught your eye in the last couple of years?

JN Yes, I am a big believer in collecting living artists. Some of the ones we collected are dead now, but they were very much alive at the time. There are two pieces that we’ve acquired this year: one is by Lauren Halsey who I think is an up-and-coming, exciting artist. And we’re just looking at a Jack Pierson. So, yes, we’re looking to the future of young emerging artists.

It’s different because it’s very much a global art market now. I don’t think I’m as attuned to everything that’s going on everywhere. It was a lot easier when we started collecting and it was just New York — [Roy] Lichtenstein, Warhol, all of the pop artists of the 1960s and ’70s.

Andy Warhol, Hamburger
Andy Warhol, Hamburger, 1986. Photo: Ye Rin Mok; © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc.

MN We really try to wait until a piece that we love comes up. We were interested in an Urs Fischer, and we waited two, three years before the right one came along.

RAS Over the past decade, so much of the development in the LA gallery scene is a reflection of the fact that there is this incredible community of LA-based artists.

JN Yes, we’re not hungry in LA anymore for galleries or for local artists. There are some very talented people working here.

RAS I think that over the last two years, during the pandemic, we have seen that, if you give creatives the right platform, anywhere can be a really generative place. On my recent visits to Aspen, I was stunned by the creative community that has been cultivated there in the last few years, and how dynamic that felt.

JN Oh yes. As retail stores went out of business in Aspen, every other store was taken over by a gallery. There is a hunger there for art.

RAS That Anderson Ranch, the Ideas Festival and those pop-up galleries can all be sustained by what is actually quite a small community, is really a testament to the energy of the people there.

JN Yes, Anderson Ranch is really a terrific place. My fantasy is to take a few classes there every summer. There’s always a great artist in residence — Cathy Opie was there in 2016 and many other great artists have taught there every summer.

MN And, really, the reason why Jane and I love Aspen so much is because, even though it’s a relatively small town, it has such a vibrant art community. We have so many friends there. As well as Anderson Ranch, you have the music school, the Aspen Institute and many other interesting things besides restaurants and hotels. You won’t find as vibrant an art museum or art community anywhere else.

Andy Warhol: Lifetimes’ is on view at the Aspen Art Museum until 27 March 2022. Follow the museum on Instagram @aspenartmuseum to keep up-to-date with all the latest news.

Main image: Andy Warhol, ‘Brillo Boxes (Set of 3)’, 1968 and ‘Large Campbell’s Soup Can’, 1965. Photo: Ye Rin Mok; © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. Courtesy of Marc and Jane Nathanson

Jane & Marc Nathanson are National Council Board Members of the Aspen Art Museum and have provided major support for ‘Andy Warhol: Lifetimes’

Rebecca Ann Siegel is a former director of Frieze. She lives and works in New York.

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