Ms. Penelope Curtis
Henry Moore Institute
74 The Headrow
Leeds LS1 3AH
February 8, 2006
Dear Ms. Curtis,
In order to establish, briefly, the context of Ray’s collecting and my relation to the process, I submit the following chronology:
In June of 1937, my mother, Fanny Brice, my sister, Frances and I moved to Los Angeles from New York City. In the early fall of that year, I first met Ray Stark who had also recently arrived in Los Angeles. He became a frequent visitor at our home as he and my sister were becoming fast friends. I was sixteen years old at that time and had started my studies in painting and drawing when I was fourteen. Ray was twenty-one years old and had come to Los Angeles in order to secure a position in the Motion Picture Industry.
Ray was exceptionally bright, having attended Rutgers University at age fifteen and worked on the staff of a New York newspaper before coming to Los Angeles. My friendship with Ray began in that fall of 1937. Ray’s humor, liveliness of mind and boundless energy were immediately evident. He was ambitious and thoroughly engaging in his zest for life.
Frances, at age 18, was not personally involved in art, but had received considerable recognition as an accomplished equestrian before coming to Los Angeles. Frances and Ray married in 1940. Shortly thereafter, Ray enlisted in the Navy and I in the Air Corps. Upon the conclusion of our military service, we resumed our professional activities and continued in our close friendship.
In further consideration of the context of Ray’s collecting, a few words about my mother and the influence of her milieu: She began her career in the theatre as an adolescent and by the age of nineteen had achieved prominence on Broadway. In 1937, she was forty-five years old and had established a stellar reputation for her work in comedy, drama, musical revue, and film. She was an amateur painter. Her environment was one of creative pursuit and she had a wide acquaintance of actors, writers, musicians, and artists. She possessed a modest collection of painting, which included works by Amedeo Modegliani, Ruffino Tomayo and the Israeli artist, Rueben Rubin.
I have included the foregoing biographical information as I believe it is relevant to the emergency of Ray’s interest in art.
Ray always said he was not a “Collector” and he was correct, if we attribute to the “Collector” an envisioned program of acquisition, an overview of entirety. This could consciously be pre-determined with respect to medium or subject, a particular historical period, a cohesive aesthetic bias or ideology. In this regard, Ray’s collection was the result of his passionate response to individual works independent of a consideration of their resultant relationship. His choices tended toward the eclectic and he enjoyed the diversity of his collection. He lived intimately with the works and often expressed his joy in his appreciation of them.
Now to your questions. I will begin with your letter of January 16, 2006, as they pertain more specifically to the foregoing:
1.Question: When did Ray Stark start to buy art?
Answer: In 1949, Ray purchased a Georges Rouault painting.
2.Question: Did this have anything to do with you?
Answer: Yes, by that time our sharing of our interests had become an important part of our
friendship and I was enthusiastic about his purchases of art.
3.Question: How much did it have to do with your sister?
Answer: She was very much in accord with Ray’s collecting art. Ray often discussed his
considerations of purchases with Fran.
4.Question: What did he/they start by buying?
Answer: In 1957, Ray purchased a Marc Chagall painting “L’esprit de Roses” 1927.
5.Question: Where from?
Answer: Parke Bernet Gallery, New York City.
6.Question: Did he ask your advice from the beginning?
Answer: Generally, yes.
7.Question: Did you give him suggestions or did he seek them?
8.Question: Did he look at other people’s collections?
Answer: He was familiar with major collections of art in Los Angeles and elsewhere.
9.Question: Or, go to exhibitions, or museums?
Answer: Ray and I often attended exhibitions and museums in Los Angeles and New York. Ray
also visited museums during his extensive travels in the United States, Europe, South
America, the Middle East and Asia.
10.Question: Or, visit sculpture gardens or parks?
11.Question: How many sculptures did he have altogether?
Answer: Approximately 75 sculptures.
12.Question: How many framed (2 dimensional) works? (Or, what were the approximate ratios; I am
not sure which predominated?)
Answer: Approximately 300 two-dimensional works, (or four times as many 2 dimensional as 3
dimensional). Within the category of 2 dimensional works is a large proportion of
drawings, graphics and various other works on paper.
13.Question: Can you give me an idea of the sculptors he patronized alongside the ones in the Getty
Answer: Miguel BerrocalAlex Lieberman
Emile Antoine BourdelleGio Pomodoro
Reginald Contrall ButlerGermaine Richier
Debra ButterfieldLaurinda Roland
Andrea CascellaAuguste Rodin
Julio GonzalezJack Youngerman
14.Question: How did the collection of sculptures relate to the collection of paintings?
Answer: For the most part, Ray did not collect two dimensional and three dimensional works: