Emily Hall Tremaine : collector on the cusp /
Kathleen L. Housley.
1st ed.
Meriden, Conn. : Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation ; Hanover : University Press of New England [Distributor], c2001.
viii, 247 p. : ill. (some col.), ports. ; 25 cm.
More Details
Meriden, Conn. : Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation ; Hanover : University Press of New England [Distributor], c2001.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. [233]-236) and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Kathleen L. Housley has written for numerous journals including Woman's Art Journal, New England Quarterly, and The Christian Century. An Affiliated Scholar at Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut, her area of concentration is the interconnection of religion and American culture
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Connecticut Book Awards, USA, 2002 : Nominated
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2001-09-01:
Tremaine is best remembered for the auctions of her collection after her death in 1987, in which astounding prices were set for works of contemporary American artists--$17 million for a Jasper Johns. The artwork she and her husband had bought for a total of $500,000 since the 1940s was sold for 170 times as much. The charitable foundation that resulted has funded Housley's biography, but the book is no whitewash; Tremaine emerges as a somewhat prickly, unpleasant individual, especially when old. Her life spanned the 20th century, and we follow her from a Montana childhood, through the vicissitudes of her career as a worldly socialite (in a 1930s portrait she, as Baroness von Romberg, clutches a dachshund named Swastika), to her years as pace-setting collector of abstract expressionism and pop art. Housley (Trinity College, Hartford) is a specialist in religion and culture and so emphasizes how Tremaine's devotion to Christian Science helped guide her collecting, with Mondrian's Victory Boogie-Woogie a spiritual touchstone. Color plates offer enlightening views of the art-filled interiors of her houses, but one wishes for more illustrations overall, including of the buildings the Tremaines commissioned from Frank Lloyd Wright and Philip Johnson. Graduate students through professionals. W. B. Maynard formerly, Delaware College of Art and Design
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, September 2001
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Main Description
Emily Hall Tremaine had "an original eye" recalled Philip Johnson, her friend, architect, and occasionally rival collector. Tremaine's ability to cut through the turbulence of contemporary art from the 1940s through the 1980s filled Johnson with amazement and envy. "She had tunnel vision. It was art. That was her universe." Born in 1908 in the mining town of Butte, Montana, Emily grew up in a world where the natural was ugly and the abstract, beautiful. She began collecting in the 1930s when she was married to Baron Maximilian Von Romberg, a young dare-devil who flew planes, drove cars, and rode polo ponies, all with reckless abandon. She herself had a wild streak that led her to walk on the wing of a plane, wear shocking outfits to posh parties, and publish a magazine that tweaked the sensitivities of the upper class. After the Baron's death in a plane crash, Emily's fascination with art increased, but it was not until her marriage to Burton G. Tremaine, Sr., in 1945 that she began to collect in earnest. Eventually the Tremaine collection of more than 400 works became, according to art historian Robert Rosenblum, "so museum-worthy that it alone could recount to future generations the better part of the story of 20th century art." Among its major pieces were Piet Mondrian's Victory Boogie-Woogie, Mark Rothko's Number 8, and Jasper John's Three Flags. Emily visited artists' studios and scoured galleries in a relentless search for the best. Her ability to spot new talent was legendary. When she turned her eye on an artist, his or her career was given an immediate boost. For example, in the early 1960s she championed an unknown graphic designer named Andy Warhol, acquiring fifteen of his works in one year, helping to fuel his rapid rise to fame. By the time of her death in 1987, the collection was worth more than $84 million. However, during her life, it was the art itself, not its value, that mattered. She told an interviewer, "It's an enormous joy to come into this apartment and be so tired I can barely drag my feet. The beauty and vitality that greet me is just pure joy. I love it, and I guess that's enough to ask of anything, isn't it?"
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Prologue: Eyes Like Gimletsp. 1
Buttep. 6
The German Baronp. 24
The Dark Yearsp. 46
The Genesis of the Collectionp. 56
The Victory Boogie-Woogiep. 74
Painting Toward Architecturep. 91
Imperfections of the Heartp. 123
The Abstract Expressionistsp. 136
The Pop Decadep. 158
Disease and Disenchantmentp. 178
Through Mondrian's Windowp. 200
Epilogue: The Auctionsp. 213
Notesp. 221
Selected Bibliographyp. 233
Cross-Reference of Art with the 1984 Exhibition Catalogp. 237
Indexp. 241
Permission Acknowledgmentsp. 248
Photographic Creditsp. 248
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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