A Conversation with Collector Ronnie Sassoon
Image: Vidal and Ronnie Sassoon

An exclusive interview with collector Ronnie Sassoon by Galerie Perrie founder Gabé Hirschowitz

Over a lifetime spent in London, New York, Los Angeles and points in between, collector Ronnie Sassoon has put together an unparalleled grouping of radical artworks, design objects and houses that elucidate her definition of “selection”: important works by Group Zero and Arte Povera artists such as Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Alighiero Boetti; midcentury designers such as Carlo Scarpa, Frederick Kiesler, Jean Prouvé and Gae Aulenti; and many more. At the center of the collection are three important houses that hold the collection: the Levit House by Richard Neutra in Los Angeles, the Stillman II House by Marcel Breuer in Connecticut and the iconic Dean/Ceglic Loft in SoHo, New York. Each of these structures defines its period and place in design history, and is redefined by the objects that now inhabit it. As Sassoon states, “Following one’s passion and desire creates the most pleasing and sensual atmosphere, reminiscent of every intoxicating past experience, whether it be in film, print, or travel. Those memories influence our selections in our quest for the perfect object nonpareil.”

Sassoon’s book, Selection, documents—through beautiful photographs of thought-provoking tableaus of artworks, objects and interiors—a blueprint for a highly selective way of living.

Selection: Art, Architecture and Design from the Collection of Ronnie Sassoon
Ronnie Sassoon’s book, Selection: Art, Architecture and Design from the Collection of Ronnie Sassoon

Galerie Perrie’s Gabé Hirschowitz sat down with Sassoon to discuss all things Art and Culture.

1. What does art mean to you?

“Art means everything to me. Creativity is my life force whether it be mine or another’s. To live with art is the ultimate luxury but at the same time as necessary as oxygen.”

2. What was your first purchase and what drew you to it?

“My first purchase was Lucio Fontana’s Concetto Spaciale 1968. For me it embodies something spiritual beyond the surface of the canvas and gave me a sense of connectedness and peace.”

3. How would you describe your collection–in three words?

“Focused. Radical. Saturated.”

4. What is your typical reaction to meeting the artist behind a work, how important is doing so if you can, and why?

“My collection is comprised of mostly dead artists but it is intoxicating to meet the few that are still living. Because I feel I know them already through their work, there has been an immediate indescribable connection.”

5. What advice would you give a new art collector?

“I would advise them to buy what moves them. Period.”

6. What particular types of art appeal to you and why?

“My collection consists of Groupe Zero and Arte Povera. That is what perpetually appeals to me for its radicalism and  beauty.”

7. What besides art are you passionate about and why? Have you or do you collect anything else?  

“I collect furniture and jewelry from the 1960’s and 70’s, the same period as the art I collect.”

8. What contemporary artist(s) most excite(s) you and why?

“The contemporary artists that excite me are Tom Burr and Glenn Ligon for their engagement with the legacies of minimal and conceptual art as well as historical and personal identity. Also Mary Weatherford, who is redefining painting by infusing light, music, personal memory and mortality into her brushstrokes.”

9. Where do you buy art most frequently?

“I’m very focused on Groupe Zero and Arte Povera and buy what I respond to viscerally wherever I find it.”

10. What do you wish to see more of in the art world?

“Fewer art fairs and less commodification.”

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