Kent Logan never gave any thought
to art collecting until one Saturday in 1993. He had moved
to San Francisco a year earlier as one of seven senior
partners in Montgomery Securities, an investment bank focusing
on high-tech, Internet companies, and was still getting
to know the city. A business associate was planning a tour
of San Francisco's fine gallery scene and asked if
Logan and his wife, Vicki, would like to come along. The
couple agreed and were immediately hooked, buying an artwork
that very first day – a realist painting by Mark
Stock. “Then, it went straight downhill from there,” Kent
Kent and Vicki Logan at their home in Vail, CO.
Since then, the Logans have built one of the top contemporary-art
collections in the world. They own more than 900 works
by 200 artists, including what they believe to be the
largest private holding of contemporary Chinese art in
the U.S. While most of the collection is devoted to vanguard
artists of the past 15 years, about a third goes as far
back as the ‘60s. Included are major examples by
such blue-chip names as Ed Ruscha, Gerhard Richter and
Anselm Kiefer and more than 30 pieces by Andy Warhol,
the most by any one artist. Collecting has slowed, but
at its peak, the couple bought more than 100 pieces a
Top left: Neo Rauch, Eis, 2002,
oil on linen. Top right: Wang Guangyi,
Face of the Believer
D, 2003, oil on canvas.
Bottom: Edward Ruscha, 1937-Burning
Gas Station, 1965 – 66, oil on canvas.
In 1997, the Logans made a fractional gift
of 300 works – all
they had collected to that point – to the San Francisco
Museum of Modern Art, with complete ownership to transfer
to the institution upon their death. After Logan retired
in 1999, he and his wife moved to Vail, CO, where they
had gotten married atop a mountain in 1985. In 2002,
the Logans built a 7,300-square-foot private museum next
to their home that can display as many as 200 of their
works. At the same time, the couple became involved with
the Denver Art Museum, making a similarly structured
gift of more than 200 artworks to the institution in
2002. Then, earlier this year, they agreed to donate
the rest of their collection to the institution in conjunction
with the October 7 debut of the museum's Frederic
C. Hamilton Building, a $90.5-million addition. This
latest gift, which will also become official upon the
Logans' death, includes $15 million in cash, a
$10 endowment as well as their Vail home and private
museum. Highlights of the couple's collection will
be shown in Radar, the main special exhibition featured
as part of the addition's opening.
In an interview with Panache, Kent Logan
talks about the couple's
collecting philosophy, the state of the art market and
the reasons for choosing San Francisco and Denver as
the repositories for their collection.
Zhang Dali, 100 Chinese (seventeen
Yue Minjun, Life, 1999, oil on canvas
Yinka Shonibare, Party Like
It's 1999, 1999, emulsion
and acrylic on textiles
Juan Muñoz, Untitled
(Six Figures), 1998,
resin and mixed media, security platform
Yue Minjun, The Last 5,000 Years, 2000, synthetic resin and acrylic paint
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Hotel Teatro, 1100 14th Street; 303.228.1100
Cafe Star, 3201 East Colfax Avenue; 303.320.8635
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Luca d'Italia, 711 Grant Street;
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Palace Arms, 3211 7th Street; 303.297.3111
Restaurant Kevin Taylor, 1100 14th Street;
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Somethin' Else, 1313 East Sixth Avenue;
Hot DAM: Party on the Edge
Friday, October 6, 7 pm – 1 am;
$150 for members, $200 for nonmembers
DAM: Art at All Hours 35-Hour GRAND Opening
Saturday, October 7, 10 am – Sunday,
October 8, 9 pm
The new Denver Art Museum
opening celebration includes tours
and events. The festivities commemorate
the 35th anniversary of the Museum's
North Building, designed by Gio Ponti,
and the first weekend of the new Libeskind-designed
Frederic C. Hamilton Building.
Selections from the Collection of Vicki
and Kent Logan
October 7, 2006 – October 7,
Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO
Did you know
right away that you wanted to collect contemporary art?
Yes. We've always meant it to be a collection of
the art of our times – by artists who are, for the
most part, living and are addressing issues that confront
us as a society at this particular moment – although
we did reach back as far as the ‘60s. I grew up in
the ‘60s, so it's still relevant in terms of
our experience and the issues that we faced as a society
at that particular point in time.
How did you
develop the knowledge you needed for a top-level collection?
It was really getting out and just walking around, walking
into galleries and engaging the dealers and the artists
in conversation. I know most of the living artists in the
collection – I have spoken to them. That becomes
an important aspect of our decision-making. So, a lot of
it is – I don't know what you call it – self-taught.
For us, it's a living, breathing part of our life
and what's going on.
little bit of your collecting philosophy.
Well, we've had advisers suggest that we look at
this, buy that, but we've really ignored them for
the most part. So, we've always said that we have
to like the work because we're going to live with
it, and we don't want to buy something that someone
said we should have and then find out we don't like
it. You can tell the difference. If I walk into a collector's
home, I can tell immediately if there has been an adviser
or a consultant at work, because it looks like one from
Column A and one from Column B – a trophy type of
How did you
get started collecting Asian art?
I want to know what's behind these images, so it
has always been the conceptual content that has driven
my interest. In that sense, I was looking for societies
that have undergone – are undergoing – major
change, because I think that is very fertile ground for
visual artists to work. So, it was not a large leap to
get to Japan. If you think about the postwar period, no
society has undergone more dramatic change than the Japanese.
That led to me to Tatsuo Miyajima, who is doing the installation
art in the new museum [in Denver], and [Yasumasa] Morimura.
And then it was sort of a natural extension into more recent
Japanese contemporary artists – [Takashi] Murakami
and Yoshitomo Nara. We're the largest holders of
Murakami in the world. Then it was China. Arguably the
most important watershed event of this century is China
taking its place in the modern world.
As you collected,
was trying to be a bit ahead of the market one of your
I never really tried to do that. But, as it turns out,
I have been ahead. With no particular foresight, we were
there collecting Young British Art before everyone else
wanted it. And then I can remember going to a couple of
art fairs in 2002 - 2003, and every other booth seemed
to have another young German. For whatever reason, the
locus of creativity was shifting to Berlin, so we bought
Franz Ackermann, Thomas Scheibitz and a number of these
artists before anyone cared. But it was clear to me that
something was happening, just like we were collecting Neo
Rauch five years ago, not today. We were collecting Neo's
work when you could buy it for $20,000, and now it's
$500,000. I've just sort of gone where my interests
have, which has largely been dictated by where I thought
interesting art was coming from.
couple of your shrewdest purchases.
I always remember the ones that got away, because I can
say, how could I possibly not have done that? One of the
paintings in this Radar show, the big Damien Hirst spot
painting. I can always recall that there was a dealer in
Chicago who said he had a friend in New York who was living
in an apartment and had two enormous spot paintings, which
were like 12-foot-square. He said, “I'm going
to buy one. Do you want to buy one?” And I said, “How
much?” I think it was $20,000. So, I bought it, and
he bought his. About three months later, he called me and
said, “I don't want this. It's too big.
Someone's offered me $40,000, and I'm going
to sell it. But if you want it, I'll sell it to you.” And
I said, “What am I going to do with two large paintings
that size?” That painting today is $1 million.
What are some
of the risks of collecting contemporary art?
I interpret that question with a 2006 sensibility. It's
with an eye toward, “Gee, if you bought something
at auction for $500,000 – even though the work is
by an established artist – and this really is a bubble
and it goes to $200,000, that's quite a risk you've
undertaken.” That's why I haven't been
active in these last couple of years as I was, because
I think the market is very inflated. I think there are
some very fine artists who are selling for very inflated
prices; and, in fact, I made the statement to some other
aspiring collectors, that I bet anything you like today,
you will be able to buy cheaper in five years. Another
way to look at risk in collecting contemporary art is the
fact that I buy contemporary art fully expecting that two
thirds of it will not be important in 20 years. But think
about it: If a third of it is, they pay baseball players
millions of dollars to bat .300.
Why did you
decide to donate your collection to the San Francisco
Museum of Modern Art and the Denver Art Museum?
There are a lot of museums that will take your art, but,
in fact, will it be the catalyst for change? The answer
in many cases is no. Give it to the Museum of Modern Art
in New York, which already has a fabulous collection, so
it has another 20 to 50 to 100 pieces. It doesn't
really change the perception of that collection, and it
doesn't allow that museum to do something differently.
With Denver and San Francisco, it really changed the context
in which the museum's collection was viewed.