Claude Simard's Art Collections Spanning Centuries and Continents On View This Spring
New Exhibition If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day Features Ghanaian Fante Asafo Flags, 19th-Century Indian Serpentology Drawings, Black Panther Flyers, Nick Cave’s Soundsuits, and Much More.
This spring, the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College will present If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day: Collections of Claude Simard, an exhibition that explores the collective, resonant, and enduring global web of art through the inquisitive eye of a visionary and fervent collector, artist, and gallerist. On view from April 22 through September 24, 2017, the exhibition is curated by Tang Dayton Director Ian Berry.
Claude Simard (1956–2014) was an influential figure within the international art community. Co-founder of the Jack Shainman Gallery, Simard dedicated over 30 years of his life to engaging with and enriching the lives of artists as both muse and patron. His curiosity and drive to collect resulted in a sizable collection of art and objects from across centuries and continents, works that include Ghanaian Fante Asafo flags, 19th-century Indian serpentology drawings, Black Panther flyers, and Nick Cave's Soundsuits. These objects served as offerings of inspiration for his artist friends, brought attention to contemporary artists operating outside of Western art centers, and represent collecting as an inherently artistic practice in its own right.
"Claude was a respected and beloved artist who, though often quiet in public, had an immeasurable influence on the art world. Visiting with Claude always involved stories of adventurous travels and passionate introductions to new artists from around the world. He loved artists and believed in art's power to affect every part of our lives," Berry said. "It was a privilege to have known him; so, too, the time I've spent exploring the treasure trove of work he collected. His collections reveal a person searching for new experiences—sometimes mystical, sometimes reverential, sometimes political, always beautiful, and always matching his carefully honed taste. He had an extraordinary eye and a passion for discovery and collecting to match."
The exhibition features a large representative selection from Simard’s collection, acquired both abroad and from within the United States. The diversity of the works is unparalleled, from medium to country of origin to subject matter. Many of the contemporary artists in the exhibition focus on issues of identity and the multiplicity of forces that shape artists and art. Artists exhibited in the show include Radcliffe Bailey, Matthew Barney, Nick Cave, Jean Dubuffet, Phil Frost, Leon Golub, David Ireland, Brad Kahlhamer, Bharti Kher, Kerry James Marshall, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Stephen Shames, Malick Sidibé, Jeff Sonhouse, Nancy Spero, Hank Willis Thomas, and Leslie Wayne.