This site uses cookies. Privacy Policy.

From Journalist, Derek Blasberg
Screen Shot 2021 05 28 At 4.04.08 PM

In Conversation

J. Tomilson Hill meets with Derek Blasberg at the newly opened Hill Art Foundation, New York. The two discuss the
origins of the foundation, Hill’s approach to collecting, and the unique programming that will take place within the institution’s walls.

Derek Blasberg: I’m excited to talk about all the Christopher Wool works in this inaugural show, but first I think we should start with where we are and how we got here.

J. Tomilson Hill: I’d been looking for ten years for space for a foundation when Peter Marino got the commission for this building. I knew I wanted it in Chelsea because of the High Line—I’m on the board—and because when the Whitney
[Museum of American Art] came down here it was the leading indicator that this area was changing. The arrival of Hudson Yards cemented it, sort of bookending this area now. So when Peter told me that he’d been chosen as the architect here, I said, “Okay. This is really a great space. Where do I want to be?” I didn’t want to be on the ground floor because that’s commercial, and then I thought it would be incredible to be on eye level with the High Line. More than 8 million people get to see into this space from there, and it’s open to the public. So we’ll show you the High Line.

DB: When did you first start working with Peter?

JTH: Oh, wow, maybe in 1983? Peter’s done ten projects for us: An apartment in Paris, a few apartments here in New York, a house in Telluride, and two houses in Locust Valley. My wife and I are godparents to his daughter. About four years ago, Peter said he got the commission of the old Getty gas station, and I had a good feeling. The problem was it was zoned for residential, so I had to go through a whole rezoning process, and the developer needed capital, but by the end of
the process I had these two floors.

DB: I love that it’s next to the High Line and has these vantages down Tenth Avenue.

JTH: I wanted a New York City scene. So you come in and you say, “Oh, okay, this is New York City.” But then I wanted
also, as people came in, to actually say, “Oh my god, this is really different from New York.” The size of these ceilings is something you don’t see outside of commercial buildings. Just to get a piece of glass big enough for a ceiling that high—what a nightmare! You’ll have to ask Peter the story, but they came from Germany and they weren’t easy. I wanted to be able to show really big works. The question with Peter was, “Okay, how high do you want the ceilings?” So we experimented.

DB: Did you know that you wanted to launch with a Christopher Wool show?

JTH: I had no idea. We collect in a few different areas: Renaissance bronzes, old master paintings, and then twelve postwar artists like Christopher—whom we collect in depth—and then all of these really cool artists in their thirties and forties.

DB: Why did you decide on Wool in the end?

JTH: You’ve got a section at the end of your magazine called “Game Changers”—Christopher’s a game changer. Everyone looks at his text paintings and says “Oh, they’re literal, those words.” No, they’re abstractions. People often
don’t get the joke with Christopher. I have to say, I arrived to the party late—other people were buying his work long before me—but I made up for lost time. So we have the largest collection of his paintings and drawings, and this is only 20 percent of the Wools that we own.

DB: How did he envision this show?

JTH: He said, “I want it really spare.” He chose these works from all the works we own.

Read the remainder of the interview in Gagosian Quarterly.

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now