Oscar-winning director Demme's 'Outsider' art collection set for sale
A riot of color greeted Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme the first time he walked into Haitian Corner, an art gallery around the corner from his Manhattan apartment. Instantly transfixed, he left with a $250 painting by Haitian master Wilson Bigaud. The seed was planted.
Demme's appreciation for work by self-taught Haitian painters such as Bigaud and Hector Hyppolite flowered into an obsession that he fed with multiple trips to the cash poor but artistically rich island nation, where he learned Creole and shot two documentaries.
“If you're falling in love with a country, falling in love with their art is a great lubricant and a great elixir,” Demme said. “Haitian art led me to Haiti for the first time, and I discovered a great country and a great people, and the art takes on a greater meaning for me now.”
Now 70 and having spent the better part of three decades amassing pieces from Haiti and other Caribbean countries as well as the United States, South America and Africa, the director of “The Silence of the Lambs” said he's looking to “streamline and simplify” his life by selling 90 percent of his well-regarded collection of self-taught or “outsider” art.
More than 900 pieces — many of them by artists with little or no formal training but abundant talent — will be auctioned at Philadelphia's Material Culture on March 29-30. The sale will be preceded by a weeklong exhibition that is free and open to the public.
“He really has followed his eye and his heart in putting this collection together,” said George Jevremovic, Material Culture's owner. “A lot of high-profile folks get advisers, and they spend tons of money on works that may end up at Christie's or Sotheby's, million-dollar artwork.”
Demme, on the other hand, was drawn to self-taught art “on a personal level and that's the way the best collections are created, where the eye and the intellect of the collector find their own ground,” Jevremovic said.
The director traces his love of artists who taught themselves how to paint and sculpt to a childhood spent watching his mother sketch landscapes.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Secret Santa saves the day for York County senior center residents
- PSU employee kicks cancer, picks up degree
- Liquor Control Board, Pennsylvania universities target problem drinking
- Licensing boards increase fees to cover costs that include investigations
- LCB ruling could mean home-delivered beer in Pa.
- Search intensifies for Philly-area gunman who killed 6
- Poor sales sink multi-state Monopoly Millionaires’ Club lottery
- Erie man charged with 1990 slaying of Virginia Beach woman
- Judge delays January trial on Penn State sanctions
- Sandusky won’t get his pension back