While I love spending time in museums and galleries, one of my favorite places to experience art is in a private home. It’s there I not only encounter individual pieces of creative expression, but a highly personal context for the collected works. That context can imbue the art with additional meaning, as can the way in which the collector arranges the pieces within their home.
The Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation, established in 1982, holds more than 1500 works of art produced during the 20th century. Approximately 400 of those pieces are displayed at the Weisman estate located in the Holmby Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles. The estate consists of a private residence designed by Gordon Kauffman (1888 – 1949) and a Frank Israel (1945 – 1996) designed annex. Both structures are surrounded by a large, terraced garden that serves as the stage and backdrop for many large-scale sculptures.
Frederick R. Weisman (1912 – 1994), entrepreneur, philanthropist, and avid art collector, built the collection over five decades – initially with Marcia Weisman, his first wife, and later, after they divorced, with Billie Milam Weisman, his second wife. Mr. Weisman passed away in 1994 and Billie Weisman continues to sustain his vision through management of the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation.
One of the things that I liked most about the Weisman collection is the way it’s presented. Rather than grouping works by artist, Frederick and Billie Weisman arranged their art thematically based upon their own sense of how the pieces relate to each other. It’s an idiosyncratic approach that I find very appealing because it’s illustrative of people actively living with art as opposed to the formality so often associated with art exhibitions in museums and galleries.
While I’d love to share my own photographs of the estate’s interior spaces and the artwork that hangs on its walls and ceilings, covers its floors and sits on shelves and furniture, I’m prevented from doing so due to the Foundation’s “no indoor photo” policy. Suffice it to say the collection is impressive and varied. Visitors have an opportunity to experience works by artists such as Keith Haring, Francis Bacon, Holly Moore, Helen Frankenthaler, Jim Dine, Andy Warhol, David Hockney, Vasa Mihich, Alberto Giacometti and Pablo Picasso, among others.
Fortunately outdoor photos are allowed, so you can get a sense of the 2.8+ acre property and the artwork displayed in the gardens.
Because the estate is located in a residential neighborhood that prohibits on street parking, all visitors arriving in their own car park on the small, circular driveway that serves as the estate’s main entry. This constraint, along with the fact that large groups would have trouble moving comfortably through the home and grounds, limit the free tours to approximately 10-12 people. So plan ahead if you want to experience this impressive art collection yourself. All you need to do is reserve your spot in advance and then show up on time. I highly recommend it.