COLLECTORS WITH PANACHE
Bountiful Boost for Dallas
Couples collaborate on an eclectic contemporary gift.
|By Janet Kutner
Two years ago, as Dallas collectors Marguerite and Robert Hoffman
and Cindy and Howard Rachofsky were enjoying New Year's Eve
dinner in Napa Valley, the conversation turned from wine to
art. By breakfast the Rachofskys had agreed with the Hoffmans's
proposal to gift their existing collections and future purchases
to the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA). Friends Deedie and Rusty
Rose soon joined this effort, and, in February 2005, the museum
announced irrevocable bequests of more than 800 contemporary objects
with an estimated value of
Marguerite and the late Robert Hoffman.
Howard and Cindy Rachofsky.
Cy Twombly, Sunset, oil-based house paint, wax
crayon, and colored pencil on canvas, 1957. The Collection
of Marguerite and Robert Hoffman.
Gerhard Richter, Two Candles (#512/3), oil on
canvas, 1982. The Collection of Marguerite and Robert
Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Untitled (L.A.), 50 lbs.
of green candy wrapped in cellophane, 1991. The Rachofsky
Ron Mueck, Angel (Exchange Agreement), silicone
rubber and mixed media, 1997. The Collection of Marguerite
and Robert Hoffman.
Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale, La Fine di Dio, oil
on canvas, 1964. The Rachofsky Collection.
The Rachofsky Collection. Janine Antoni, Saddle,
rawhide, 2000. The Rachofsky Collection.
The impact of this unprecedented gift is now being felt as the DMA unveils 275
examples in a multidimensional exhibition titled Fast Forward:
Contemporary Collections for the Dallas Museum of Art, guest-curated
by former Reina Sofía director María de Corral.
While the focus here is on unity, each collection is different, reflecting the
collectors' conscious efforts to avoid repetition. The Hoffmans's
150-piece collection is weighted toward mid-20th-century masters,
with concentrations of work by Joseph Beuys, Joseph Cornell,
Marcel Duchamp, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Jasper Johns,
Ellsworth Kelly and Cy Twombly.
The Rachofskys, who own almost
500 works by some 250 artists, embrace young international
talents such as Kai Althoff, Janine Antoni, Tom Friedman, Mona
Hatoum and Marc Quinn, and radical movements such as Italy's
Arte Povera group. Minimalism and post-minimalism are major
strains in keeping with the Rachofsky House, a classic modern
design by Richard Meier that is also part of the gift.
These are relatively young collections, largely built over the last 10 to 15
years. Robert Hoffman, co-founder of National Lampoon who co-chaired
the Coca-Cola Bottling Group, Southwest, for 25 years, began
buying art in the late 1960s. But he started collecting in
earnest only after he and his wife, a former gallery director
with a dual master's degree in medieval and contemporary art,
were married in 1994. Howard Rachofsky, who made his fortune
as a hedge fund manager, met his wife in 1993 and began involving
her in collecting shortly before the Rachofsky House opened
three years later.
In an interview with Panache, the Rachofskys and Margurite Hoffman, whose husband
died of leukemia in August, talk about disparate interests
and shared concerns.
How have your collections changed over the years?
Howard Rachofsky: Our collection was
more random and eclectic until the house became a reality.
The architecture helped drive the point of minimalism,
which led us to parallel movements going on in Europe,
meaning Arte Povera and works of a conceptual nature by
Lucio Fontana. Allan Schwartzman, the art advisor we've
worked with for almost ten years, sparked our interest
in artists who are wrestling with postmodern issues of
identity – Marc Quinn, for example, or Louise Bourgeois,
to go back a bit further.
Marguerite Hoffman: Robert owned examples
by many of the artists we bought, but the collection has
grown in that it has more classic, significant works, and
more depth. If an artist explores more than one medium
or has been active over decades, that's reflected.
With Twombly we have both painting and sculpture, and works
by Johns and Kelly start in the early 1950s and go through
How would you describe your collecting philosophy?
Robert and I were different. He was never interested in
cutting-edge work – an artist
had to be at least mid-career so he could see if that person
had staying power and historical context. I respond more
intuitively and viscerally. It doesn't matter to
me that it's Twombly's first blackboard painting
or the first spiderweb Vija Celmins did in 1992. It just
has to be powerful as an object.
Cindy Rachofsky: Howard
is more interested in conceptual art – he's
as seduced by the idea behind the work as its physical
presence. He understands people like Paul McCarthy and
Giulio Paolini. For me the visual experience is key. I respond
to the tactile work of Agnes Martin, Robert Ryman and Jim
What prompted your decision
to leave your collections to the Dallas Museum?
HR: We wanted
to make a statement that wasn't selfish. It isn't
about having our names on the wall or having a building
named after us. It's
about doing something that will impact the community
long after we're here.
CR: We also used
it as leverage for the museum's Capital Campaign,
with the hope that it would encourage others to commit
their collections or come forward with funding. The
Roses did both, and other Dallas collectors, including
Gayle and Paul Stoffel, have made significant gifts
of money and art.
Which works will you miss most?
MH: That's easy – the de Kooning that's in my bedroom, the Twombly Sunset and the Gerhard Richter painting of two candles that Robert and I
always thought of as a dual self-portrait, two flames burning brightly
together but also separate. I worked on de Kooning in graduate school, and that was such an incredibly passionate moment in painting. The Twombly, which is chicken scratch to some people, has deep meaning
to me. It unfolds over time, and I've learned a lot from the process.
CR: I'll miss the candy piece by Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Often when
teachers bring students through the house they are apprehensive
about the experience of art. They are told “don't touch” and “look
with reverence.” However, when they see the candy piece and are told
they can take a piece the entire experience changes.
HR: For me it's the big yellow Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale, La
Fine di Dio (Spatial Concepts, the End of God), which is from a body of
work I had coveted for many years. I'd had many false starts trying to
acquire one of these works, and we actually bought it at auction while
we were on a plane coming back from Basel, so we didn't know it was
ours until we landed. My first reaction was to gulp, because we'd never
spent that much ($2.2 million) on any work of art. I rationalized it as
my 60th birthday present.
What have you bought in the last two years?
MH: We acquired our first Richard Artschwager
and purchased Johns's crosshatch painting Usuyuki.
And we ventured outside the box with Ron Mueck's
minuscule Angel, which is totally different from
everything else we own.
HR: We added an important Alberto Burri
painting to our Italian collection, but we also bought
a number of works by young artists, including Mark Grotjahn,
Kai Althoff, Luc Tuymans and Peter Doig.
What are your plans for the future?
MH: We'll continue to collect, but
it's becoming more difficult. When the total for
a de Kooning and a Johns is $143.5 million, that pretty
much puts you out of the running. When we started out ten
years ago, we got some really good pictures for a fraction
of that amount.
HR: This is true of younger artists as
well. The first Tom Friedman I bought was $6,000, and
his works now sell for $150,000 and more. We hope to have
fresh ideas that seduce us, and that we can find ways to
acquire them. We all feel a sense of responsibility, so
we'll continue to buy with an eye toward filling
gaps in the museum's holdings. I'm convinced
the collection will go forward, because individuals who
are passionate about collecting will continue to do so.
Collections for the
Dallas Museum of
FEBRUARY 11 – MAY 20
Dallas Museum of Art, TX
Image 1-9, Courtesy of the Dallas Museum of Art.
Courtesy © 2000 Janine Antoni.