A rarely seen multimillion dollar private art collection with 24 pieces by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, David Hockney, Jackson Pollock and Wayne Thiebaud opens today for public viewing at the University Art Museum.
“Out of Site: Selections from the Marsha S. Glazer Collection” will be on display Jan. 5 through Feb. 27. The showing is the first and only time the collection — which is usually kept in the Glazers’ home on Mercer Island in Washington — is scheduled to appear in a museum. The collection is ranked among the top 25 in the nation by magazines such as Art Scene and Art Antiques.
“It would be a coup for any museum in the country to host an exhibition of this collection,” University Art Museum Director Bonnie Kelm said in a press release. “Collections as rich in significant works of art as the Glazer collection can generally only be viewed in the nation’s largest and most prestigious art museums.”
Sharon Major, University Art Museum public relations coordinator, said the museum is gearing up for the showing by implementing special security measures, including armed guards, motion detection sensors and video cameras.
Major said the featured artists created styles that still amaze people today. Many American artists featured in the show facilitated the art world’s shift from the Parisian art scene to the New York School of Art, she said.
Many pieces in the show were made during transitional periods in the artists’ style, such as Jasper Johns’ “According to What,” Marsha Glazer said. Nationally published art critic Gerard Haggerty wrote that the piece “marks a transition as Johns went from singular iconic images to more complex, multi-paneled works.”
Glazer said she purposely chose this theme when she began collecting over 12 years ago.
“I was going through a divorce and I needed something to do. [I thought] maybe I can meet some one,” Glazer said jokingly.
Glazer said she was inspired to collect art after touring personal collections in Boston. Her first four purchases were of works by women, including an untitled oil-on-canvas Joan Mitchell piece included in the museum show.
Besides the general theme, she said there was no “rhyme or reason” to what she collected, as long as she liked it. The pieces are meant to complement specific places in their home — Thiebaud’s “Black Shoes” is usually hung near her own personal shoes, she said.
Marsha’s husband, Jay Glazer, said his wife is most attuned to details of texture and color in the art she prefers. He said, for the couple, seeing a piece of art’s visual effect is more important than reading its history.
“Marsha and I, when we go to a museum, we can go through it in 30 minutes,” Jay Glazer said.
The couple brought the collection to UCSB for three reasons, he said: the first being their desire to increase involvement with the university. Secondly, they will be living in nearby Montecito for half the year, and lastly their daughter — Ellie Glazer — is a third-year art history major at UCSB.
“I actually have gone with my parents to go look at these paintings in New York and Paris [before they were purchased],” said Ellie Glazer, who will be working as a docent for the show.
She said the works in the collection reflect her mother’s emotional tie to the colors and lines of the pieces.
“She may not know a lot about the artist, but she likes it,” Ellie Glazer said.
Both Jay and Ellie Glazer said they each had favorites in the collection — Jay prefers Jean Dubuffet’s “Black Beauty” because of its difficulty to be enjoyed and Ellie prefers Johns’ “According to What.” Marsha, however, said she could not say which one she likes best.
“They’re like children,” she said. “You might have a favorite, but you don’t tell anyone.”
The University Art Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. An exhibition reception that is open to the public will be held Saturday, Jan. 15 from 6-8 p.m.