Artists and their patrons

The other day, we had a bit of a capsule view of the spectrum of art’s creation and its supporters.

The American franchise of Lambert Tours was pleased to accompany our founders to the site of one of America’s great art patrons. Kykuit, also known as the John D. Rockefeller Estate, is 25 miles north of Manhattan on the highest point of the Pocantico Hills, and has been the home of four generations of Rockefellers, first occupied by John D. himself in 1908.

The 40-room mansion is open to the public, as are the grounds (but the interior is off limits to photographers). It is frozen in the time of Nelson Rockefeller, who died in 1979, and there is nothing especially warm or cozy in the public rooms. But the vistas facing the east and especially west are spectacular, and give the sense that no other humans inhabit the land. The park area is huge, and is beautifully landscaped.

From his mother, Nelsen inherited a passion for modern art, and the parts of his sculpture collection on display are beautifully integrated into the vast gardens.

What I can’t share is the art collection in the lower level, which houses a modern art collection any piece of which would delight a museum. However, the area looks like a 70’s basement, with (low) acoustic tile ceilings and bad lighting. Doesn’t really do justice to Picasso, Miro, and their friends. Times do change, and it is surprising that Nelsen did not build a proper gallery for this work – but we were still very glad to see it all.

The Rockefeller name is synonymous with philanthropy, and we have them to thank for their participation in the founding of the Museum of Modern Art and their continuing support of that, as well as so many other cultural, educational and humanitarian institutions. They truly rank among the good guys, in my view.

Then, over the (Hudson) river and through the woods to Nyack we went, to the home of one of America’s most iconic artists, Edward Hopper. No son of a millionaire he, Eddie lived in a modest home in the village, and rode his bike daily to take the train the New York and art school.

It was touching to see his home and his bedroom, and to share his view of the river. This is a humble establishment, just now gaining museum status, but it is clearly has an important place in the hearts of those who have helped save it. Notice the painting of the very front porch through which we entered.

There were some lovely early drawings, but most charming were the quick sketches Hopper would dash off after spats with his wife, Jo. As always, art said it all. He was 6’8″ and she was very short, but they must have made a sweet couple.

Somehow the artist’s home is the one I’ll remember, but how wonderful there are Rockefellers and other visionaries to support those who show us how to see.


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