Many people in Greater Flint might know or know of John Henry as the Executive Director at the Flint Institute of Arts; but what some might not know is that he and his wife, Janice, an interior designer, are avid art collectors, and have been since the early 1970s.
These etchings are from the “New York School” collection.
1: Isabel Bishop, “In The Bus,” 1947.
2: John Sloan, “Girls Running,” 1914.
3: Douglas Gorsline, “Brooklyn Local,” 1945.
4: Bruce Piermarin, “Undecided 1989.”
5: Bi’s “Quija Dynasty China,” 2400 BC.
6: Hunt Slonem, “LUcky Charm.”
7: Robert Rauchenberg, “Portrait of Merle Cunningham,” 1984.
8: Jack Henry, “Untitled Core Sample #5.”
9: Jeff Koons, “Untitled 2001.”
10: Larry Kagen, “Untitled.”
Describe your art collecting process.
It has evolved over time. As an art historian, I have spent my 40-plus-year career researching artists, contextualizing their place in art history, and studying the techniques they use in their work.
My wife and I began collecting while we were in college – mostly works of artists we knew.
Does it, or will it ever, feel complete?
No, because we never grow tired of discovering and acquiring a compelling art work.
What kind of art do you primarily collect?
Our collection is primarily, but not limited to, works on paper. We also collect contemporary painting and sculpture.
What do you look for when considering a piece for your collection?
Quality! Our collection includes works from various periods in art history, but it all comes together visually. Janice and I usually agree on the piece; it has to be compelling to both of us.
Do pieces just “appear” to you, or do you go searching for them?
In the case of a group of artists we collectively referred to as the “New York School” dating back from the early 1990s, we have been systematic in our search. Other works we come upon at art galleries, auctions, and through private art dealers, or during visits to artists’ studios. Gallery, museum, or studio visits are always a part of trips we take in the U.S. and abroad.
What is your favorite aspect about collecting?
The discovery of a truly great art work. Tremendous personal satisfaction can be derived from making original art part of your daily experience. My wife, an interior designer, believes that a home without good art is like a landscape without trees.
Do you have a favorite artist?
Yes; our son, Jack Henry, a sculptor who lives and works in New York.
What is your advice for someone who would like to start collecting?
Just spending time in art museums, really looking at art, is the easiest way to gain knowledge. The Curatorial Department of an art museum can help steer you to the reputable sources for information on artists and the care of art works. There is great art available for every pocketbook. My wife and I make a point of acquiring at least one piece a year, sometimes more. If a home has walls, there is always a place for good quality art.
Photography by Eric Dutro