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Joy Simmons: ‘Supporting young artists is more important than collecting a big name’ Financial Times

The Los Angeles-based collector and radiologist has acquired works over 40 years that reflect her African-American heritage

Most art collectors start with a rather scattergun approach to buying, acquiring in a random fashion before gradually homing in on the focus they want to give their collection. Not the Los Angeles-based collector and radiologist, Joy Simmons. From the get-go she knew she wanted to collect work that reflected her own heritage as an African American. “When I was in college, I visited my aunt’s home in New York. She had sculptures by Melvin Edwards, paintings by Howardena Pindell and Jack Whitten: the heavy hitters. It was eye-opening for me to see work by black people that reflected my reality; at that point I started to think about how such works could impact on my own space,” she says. That was over 40 years ago now, and Simmons has continued on that path ever since, gradually building up a major collection of work by black artists. And on the few occasions when she has acquired a work by a white artist, it reflected the black experience: for instance, a lithograph of Norman Rockwell’s “The Problem we all Live With” (1963-64), showing six-year-old Ruby Bridges being escorted to school by FBI agents. “I had to talk my husband into buying it,” laughs Simmons. She also has a vivid and joyous screen print of Andy Warhol’s “Queen Ntombi Twala of Swaziland” (1984). But the overwhelming majority of her collection is by African American creators. (Read More)


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