Welcome to the Seavest Collection: a
privately held group of contemporary artworks, which we
share with the public through loans to museums and through this website. The collection has grown
through curiosity and serendipityand so, in that spirit, we invite you to browse freely and make
The Seavest Collection encompasses more than 1,000 works of contemporary art: all of them made
in one or another of the many strains of realism, with the majority created by American artists. A
great many of the notable painters and sculptors who have been committed to representational art
over the past three decades are now represented in the collection. Nevertheless, the collection does
not claim to be a survey of contemporary realism, let alone a comprehensive one. Rather, it is the
outgrowth of a personal, intuitive engagement with contemporary art.
Among the pieces that planted the seed of the collection, in the early 1980s, were recently
completed collages and watercolors by an American master, Romare Bearden. These were pictures
of everyday subjects: the jumble of New Yorks buildings, a fondly remembered vaudeville show,
mother putting a protective hand on her childs shoulder. Beardens bold, vibrantly colored
danced across the pictures surfaces; and yet these images, for all their bursting life, always
to be poised and serene.
What moved me when I first stepped into the gallery scene, with an untrained eye and no
preconceptions, was this sense of a commonplace reality that had been translated into a heightened,
timeless moment. This is the feeling that I pursued in different ways, together with my wife Monica,
over the subsequent years.
As the collection grew in the early 1990s, those Bearden cityscapes were joined by the Photorealist
street scenes of Richard Estes, Rackstraw Downes and Robert Cottingham. Beardens evocative
Mother and Child found itself in the company of the haunting figures of Kent Bellows, the
idiosyncratic portraiture of Alice Neel and Alex Katz, the nudes of Philip Pearlstein with their
classically solid, gleaming forms and knotty poses. Still other works seemed to match the humor and
theatricality of Beardens vaudeville scene. Among these were Ron Kleemans view of Bugs Bunny,
floating above the Thanksgiving Day parade, and Larry Riverss paean to a Vanished World:
Garbo and Boyer.
The collection continued to evolve in the ensuing decade, with new subject matter and new
approaches to artmaking making their appearance. Great public events and political themes began
to make themselves felt: in Malcolm Morleys aeronautical adventures (Hiding Behind History and
Icarus), Kara Walkers Shiny Penny and Wayne Gonzalezs arresting portraits
Administration officials. A more Conceptual approach to the figure begins to be seen: in Richard
Princes Mission Nurse, for example, or Richard Pattersons Girl in Blue Bikini.
In recent years,
the geographic scope of the collection has also expanded, especially with the inclusion of Tracey
Emin, Sarah Lucas and other Young British Artists. And you find humor and wonder, sometimes in
the same piece. There is Amy Cutlers fairytale image of Bird Watchers, for example, or
McCollums array of candy-colored sculptures, which might look abstract at first but are the actual
casts of a dinosaurs footprint.
The works that first moved me were the ones that seemed to offer (in Robert Frosts words) a
momentary stay against confusion. If a painting felt right to me, it focused the eye and mind
filled me with the peace that comes from understanding. The many different paths toward that
understanding are the subject of the Seavest Collection.
Richard D. Segal