from the Land of Sun and Shadows continued
they had been traveling to Mexico from their home in Wichita, Kansas,
for a decade. (Pollak now lives in Longboat Key, Fla.) Having spent
some time in Morelia, in the west-central province of Michoacan,
they had been captivated by some of the art they had seen. They
had even bought a few pieces, more as travel mementos than as real
collecting. Gradually, they got serious about it, and spent a couple
of years studying the subject intensively before they began to frequent
galleries in Mexico City.
to the realization that to collect successfully, knowledge of your
subject was the best tool you could have, says Pollak, adding that
when he began studying it seriously, I felt that it was just a
miniscule part of world art, and I could absolutely master the subject.
quietly at his own hubris. After 35 years, Im proud to state that
my knowledge is at best superficial. Its an enormous, enormous
subject. One artist is a life-time endeavor.
very modest about it, says Dr. Dilys Winegrad Gr70, director and
curator of the Arthur Ross Gallery and editor of the catalogue.
He says Oh, I dont know anything about this, and so on, but
he knows a great deal about the subject matter, and its very clear
that hes read everything he can get his hands on.
All of the
artists the Pollaks collected were born by 1940, which puts them in
the modern category rather than the contemporary. Although Pollak
was advised by experts in the field, Winegrad points out, as in all
private collections, there is a big element of the collectors taste.
taste is very universal, she adds, and I think people will love
the fact that it does have a lot of very Mexican-looking work.
describes the Pollaks first twin-purchase in 1965, from the Galera
de Arte Moderna in Mexico City: Zalces Vendadora de Patos
(Girl Selling Ducks) and Leñador (Woodcutter).
When they found out that Zalce was from Morelia, they began to visit
him in his studio and bring him hard-to-find brushes and tobacco.
Over the years, they continued to buy his paintings. (Zalce, now
93, is still alive.)
for our own pleasure, Pollak points out, and as a result, we seemed
to collect the same kind of pictures over and over, the same artists
over and over. Either you like them or you dont. The artists you
really like, you always want more.
Marcia Corbinos essay in the catalogue mentions that Pollak had taken
art-appreciation courses while a student at Penn, he admits that he
barely remembers them. Ive always been kind of an art buff, and
always been a museum-goer, ever since I can remember, he says. Yet
he is emphatic that his wife was more discriminating than he, and
regards the catalogue as a tribute to her collecting talents.
the best taste, he says matter-of-factly. Theres no question of
that. She was very discerning. Generally, she would do the selecting,
and I would do the economics. Ninety percent of the time, I liked
what she liked, but once in a while I didnt, and if I didnt, we
wouldnt buy it.
enough, when Im complimented on a picture by somebody whos very
knowledgeable, invariably its one of the pieces that she was involved
in the selection, he adds. I dont get too much commentary about
the ones I picked out.
Sept/Oct Contents | Gazette
Seated Woman, 1966, by Armando Amaya; below: Sleeping
Soldiers, 1934, by Máximo Pacheco; Head
of a Woman, ca.1937, by Carlos Orozco Romero; and
Still Life with Mexican Objects, 1944, by Olga Costa.