ART WORLD Q & A: Edition 13


For this edition of Art World Q&A, collectors Nadia Palon and Roberto Toscano whose impressive collection includes work by James Turrell, Dan Graham, Larry Bell and Sterling Ruby share their insight on collecting and the art market. 

1. What was the first piece of art you bought and do you still own it?

Roberto Toscano: My first work was an etching by Richard Serra – I’ve since added quite a few more etchings by Serra into the collection, so, this body of work was certainly important to the development of my collection and my ideas about collecting more generally. I’ve never sold a work and have no plans to ever sell anything.

Nadia Palon: My first piece was a set of skate decks by Marilyn Minter, of course I still have them!

2. What medium are you interested in and why?

Roberto Toscano: Sculpture, by far. Most of the work I acquire is either by sculptors or plans and preparatory drawings for sculpture.

Nadia Palon: I really love the light and space movement – I’ve always been fascinated with James Turrell’s use of light as a sculptural medium. Roberto and I are about to make the trip up to Massachusetts to see Into The Light at MASS MoCA.

3. Have you bought works from artists you discovered on Instagram?

Roberto Toscano: Yes. IG has been very useful in finding new artists and keeping up to date with what is happening in the field.

Nadia Palon: I’ve bought work directly ON Instagram! I wanted to surprise Roberto for his birthday and so I direct messaged Elias Hansen to secretly make a piece for him which I surprised him with on his birthday.

4. How did your enthusiasm for art come about?

Roberto Toscano: I’m a composer and musician, in a sense, the collecting was a means to an end – finding solutions to analogous problems in aesthetics by looking at the visual arts as opposed to just music.

Nadia Palon: I’ve been exposed to art since I was a small child; my mother would regularly take me to museums and I really fell in love with the whole experience.

5. What is your most treasured artwork?

Roberto Toscano: I have a soft spot for much of the work I’ve collected – hard to pick among them.

Nadia Palon: A red hologram by James Turrell, Roberto gave it to me as a gift and we installed it in our room! I look at it every day.

6. Who inspires you in the art world?

Roberto Toscano: Daniel Turner, Sterling Ruby, Oscar Tuazon are the three who come to mind immediately; I collect their work in depth.

Nadia Palon: Gerhard Richter and his ability to work through so many styles and idealogical positions while still refraining from becoming dogmatic, as a writer I especially admire that position.

7. How important is it for you to meet the artists you collect in person?

Roberto Toscano: Important but not vital – I don’t mind if artists want their space and rather not engage in a more formal dialogue on their work and my view on their work.

Nadia Palon: I love meeting them! Studio visits are incredibly important and really inspire me. I always look around at every detail and try to catch a glimpse of how they work, what they read, how they live, etc. We just came back from Los Angeles and we had the honor of having a three hour tour of Paul McCarthy’s studio. It was one of the most disturbing and thought provoking experiences of my life. Paul spoke in depth about his ideas and really took his time to explain his positions – he was incredibly friendly and I was extremely impressed by how involved he was with every stage of the development of every piece in that gigantic space. It’s the largest studio I’ve ever seen – and we also had a tour of Sterling Ruby’s studio this same trip, which many people know is gigantic in itself! So this gives an idea of just how large Paul’s studio is! Another highlight was meeting Larry Bell and spending time with him and Pinky (his dog and the clear boss of the studio). Larry invited us to visit him in New Mexico to see the production of the larger cubes and glass pieces, I can’t wait for that.   

8. What is your advice to young collectors working with a budget?

Roberto Toscano: Find artists in your own generation who are pushing the envelope – try to start by collecting the work of your peers.

Nadia Palon: I agree with Roberto.

9. What artwork would you buy with $10k, $100k and $1 million?

Roberto Toscano: I don’t usually think about price at all (or markets) – if I become obsessed with it and I can afford it, I will try to acquire it ASAP. The body of work I’m currently most interested in that is above my current budget and which is hard to source are the resin sculptures from the KANDORS series by Mike Kelley.

Nadia Palon: I’ve had a life long obsession with Richter, if I could I would definitely buy a major work of his.

10. Do you have any favorite online venues for buying art?

Roberto Toscano: I’m on many of them – if work appears that I care about, I try to at least get a bid in! I’ve used PADDLE 8, Artsy, and all the main art auction houses as well.

Nadia Palon: That seems to be Roberto’s domain 😉

About Nadia Palon and Roberto Toscano

Nadia Palon is a writer and  an aspiring cat lady, currently working on her debut novel. Originally from Moscow, she moved to New York for New York University.

Roberto Toscano, Dean’s Fellow at Columbia University in the City of New York,  is a composer and researcher who incorporates interdisciplinary concerns into a personal compositional aesthetic. In 2010, Toscano was awarded the Toru Takemitsu Prize in Music Composition in Tokyo, Japan. Toscano is also Founder & CEO of Arbor-Borlem and Co-Founder of Species Prototype, LLC – these projects look to combine and leverage interests in industrial design, aesthetics, art curation, and research into multidisciplinary projects. Toscano also serves on the Acquisitions Board of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami.