Purple Magazine
— F/W 2011 issue 16

Rosette Delug

Rosette Delug

how I became an art collector

interview and portrait by ALEX ISRAEL


My entrance into the art world ten years ago was a fluke — or maybe it was more like a magical door opened for me. I was 50 years old and mourning the loss of my mother when I found out that my husband had a Parisian mistress and wanted a divorce. I went to New York to report the news of our separation to our middle child, who was then studying at Columbia, and it so happened that some friends of mine from LA were staying at my hotel. I ended up going to the Armory Show with them and bought several pieces of art I knew nothing about.

I came home, hung up the work, and suddenly the spaces in the house became mine — they no longer felt like the spaces I’d shared with my husband for 25 years. I started my collection, without the aid of advisors, by obsessively stalking the galleries, and buying what I thought I had to have. Most of my early purchases were second-rate pieces by emerging artists whom I admired. The better pieces were sold to me only if I promised to gift them later to an institution. With the promised gifts and donations came invitations to join acquisition groups at MOCA and The Hammer. Then came my position of trustee at MOCA and my membership on the Hammer’s Board of Overseers. Suddenly I was meeting the emerging artists whose works I collected.
I would ask them about their heroes, which led me to start collecting works by those older artists they were trying to emulate. All the while I was morphing into a woman who was exploring her newfound freedom, through the pursuit of contemporary art.

In the last ten years my collection has evolved from its early focus on figurative, sexually charged painting to include a conglomeration of Minimalist and Conceptual works spanning all media. I’ve discovered art fairs, artists and their studios, gallerists and their galleries, and curators and their museums, all of which has imparted an enormous amount of knowledge to me, thereby completely transforming my former housewifely existence. Four years ago I gave a party at my house to welcome MOCA’s new curators to Los Angeles, and Paul Schimmel, MOCA’s chief curator, said to me, “You’re no longer a novice — you’ve become a serious collector.”

I feel exhilarated and renewed by the world of contemporary art. With art collecting came a newfound passion, new friends, and a new social life. I don’t feel like the leftover wife anymore. Since that fateful rebirth I’ve fully reinvented myself. Collecting art is an integral part of what makes me the new Rosette. I cannot imagine life without it.

Living with art on a daily basis is divine. I wake up to art. I sit on art. I eat on art. I entertain on art. I never get bored by it or take it for granted. I love determining where each piece I acquire should go. Sometimes when I get new pieces and don’t want to put them in storage, I’ll lean them up against a wall or prop them up on a table. In my home, a work by an unknown artist might sit next to a work by an established superstar. Curators may cringe at the volume of art occupying my walls and floors, but I like to be completely surrounded by my collection — that’s how I know I’m home.

My life has been enhanced, enriched — saved, you might even say — by the pursuit of contemporary art. The gift of contemporary art has been my second chance. And it’s a gift that’s meant to be shared. When museum patron tour groups visit my house, I don’t make them take off their shoes or leave their purses at the door. I like people to wander around freely — I do have security cameras in every corner — and experience the things that enrich my life. Occasionally a savvy collector will become curious about a piece and jot down the name of the artist and the gallery where I bought it. I feel truly ecstatic when I’m able to expose the work of a young artist to a new audience, knowing that it could advance his or her career. At the end of each tour at least one of my guests will come up and tell me that learning about my evolution from a discarded wife to a contemporary art collector has given them renewed hope, as they work through their own emotional transitions.

Don Brown, Yoko VIII, 2002, collection of Rosette Delug / Photo Olivier Zahm

I love opening my home to honor artists, young and old, and I love hosting parties to benefit institutions. I always say that the best part of the party comes near the end, in the wee hours of the morning, when the last few guests gather around my bathroom and ask me about the nutrients I obsessively take. Here’s a list of those I like to share with friends and visitors:

Quinton, marine plasma. Immun’Age, fermented papaya enzyme. Lypo-Spheric nano C, B, and glutathione. And, of course, B12 shots — freely dispensed to those willing to drop their pants.

I often receive emails and text-message testimonials the next day from people who have woken up refreshed — and without a hangover — in spite of the copious amounts of tequila (José Cuervo Reserva de la Familia) they consumed the night before.

My ritual morning breakfast consists of scrambled organic egg whites with avocado and heirloom tomatoes; Macroom oatmeal (which comes directly from the only family in Ireland that hand-grinds and freezes the oats they grow, so that the essential oils in the oats do not become rancid) with hemp seed, chia seed, goji berries soaked in hot water and mixed with manuka honey from New Zealand; Branches Three Citrus Marmalade from Katz & Company in Napa (known for their organic artisan preserves and jams, all produced in small batches); freshly ground peanut butter; organic butter; artisan breads from Zingerman’s; and whatever seasonal organic fruits have been dropped off by Farm Box LA (a service that selects and delivers produce from local farmers).

I work out with a trainer on weekdays and I take ballroom dance lessons twice a week. After eating such a big breakfast I very rarely feel like lunch, and when I travel I bring along most of the foods in my regimen.


[Table of contents]

F/W 2011 issue 16

Table of contents

purple EDITO

purple NEWS

purple BEST of the SEASON





purple BEAUTY

purple TRAVEL

purple NAKED


purple NIGHT

purple WINTER


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