Posted: July 21st, 2016 -
35 Years of Collecting with The Smiling Lady Who Once Surprised Warhol – Suzanne Syz
ArtAndOnly recently had the pleasure of talking with renowned jewelry designer Suzanne Syz. Known for her unconventional designs, material expertise, technical knowledge and artistry, Syz’s creations are highly sought-after worldwide. In the 1980’s Syz was living in New York City and a member of the inner circle of artists such as Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat, Julian Schnabel, Francesco Clemente and Jeff Koons. The “nearness” of these artists had a significant impact on both her approach to creating one-of-a-kind jewelry but also in building an incredible collection of modern and contemporary art over 35 years.
We know that you are yourself a gifted jewelry designer. Do you get your inspiration for your pieces from the works in your collection?
Most of the time I’m inspired by the art, not necessary pieces that are in our collection but as it is my passion, it naturally influences my designs.
How long have you been collecting Contemporary Art and was there a specific event which pushed you to start collecting?
We started to collect 35 years ago when we were leaving in NYC in the early 80’s. The art scene at that time was so amazing and we were lucky to be introduced to some very talented Artists through Bruno Bischofberger who was a close friend. I believe we decided to collect instinctively. We bought pieces that we liked without thinking about a collection. It is later that we decided to structure it as a collection and choose pieces that would make sense with the rest of the pieces.
“The Smiling Lady Who Once Surprised Warhol” – can you please tell us about your encounter with Andy Warhol?
When we met Andy in the early 80’s with Bruno Bischofberger, he was already a well-known artist. I had just given birth to my first son, Marc and with Eric (my husband), we decided to have a portrait done of myself and Marc. I went to the Factory to get the polaroid done and 3 weeks later got a phone call from Andy to let me know the painting was ready.
When I arrived and discovered the piece, I was happy but on the same time disappointed. My face on the portrait was a bit sad and I m a happy person! So I took all my courage and told Andy that I was a happy girl and that the portrait would be a gift to my Son, so I wanted him to remember me as I am, Happy! He first looked at me a bit surprised (I don t think many girls told him they were not satisfied) but I think he kind of liked it, and told me “Fine, I’ll do it again and will give you a call.” Two weeks later he called and it was my turn to be surprised as he had done the portraits in 3 different colors and told me “You like them? they are all for you.” I was very excited and I am still happy each time I look at them!
Do you follow the artists you have selected and do you offer them collaborations with your own work? I am thinking in particular of your presentation with John Armleder earlier this year. How did that come about?
John has been a dear friend for more than 20 years and I really admire his work. We were lucky to get some great pieces from him. About two years ago, I was tired of seeing jewelry in cases and thought I should find a good way to join my two passions and show them in a different way that would surprise people and give them a new dimension. I talked about my project with John and he came out with these great sculptures made in iridescent blown glass (a technique that was use in the Art Nouveau period to do jewelry), in which a piece of jewelry is discovered by opening the sculpture. I just loved it straight away! And because John is a perfectionist, he decided to redesign the booth with an Art wall piece. The result looked amazing and we were very proud to show it this year at different Art Fairs.
What is your long term vision for your collection? Are you one of those collectors who keeps everything in storage or do you enjoy having them in your home?
I love to live surrounded by them but the collection is pretty important now, and a lot of our Art is in our offices around the world. We also lend them to museum regularly (MOMA in NYC or MAMCO in Geneva this past year).
Are you a trader? No never!
Do you sell to buy more? Are there pieces which do not appeal anymore and so you put them back on the market?
No, I love what we buy and will always do!
What do you think of buying or selling art on the net? Would you do it?
It is pretty recent but I believe people will get there gently as they did with many other things. 15 years ago people would tell you that they will always read a paper book, or go to the store to buy shoes; today these items are sold in majority on the net. Art is different, but I have to admit that I’ve already bought some pieces just by seeing a picture of it, so why not on the internet?!