Everson Shows works from a legendary collector to honor her life
Everson celebrates the life of Victoria Schonfeld
“Mutual Affection” at the Everson Museum of Art is the world’s first glance at the ceramics collection Victoria Schonfeld spent her life acquiring before her death in 2019. The show opened July 24th, 2021 and will be on display until Jan. 30, 2022. Schonfeld’s collection reflects her many interests while showcasing the relationships she had with the artists she collected from. She made a point to support artists any way she could, whether that be through purchasing work, getting pieces into museums, or having artists stay in one of her apartments on the Upper East Side.
The collection includes works by Gareth Mason, Betty Woodman, Carol McNicoll and Kate Malone, all prominent British artists. Works by McNicoll are examples of Schonfeld’s passion fighting for human rights and preservation. McNicoll’s work, like many other artists in the collection, fuses political ideas about gentrification and preservation with beautiful decoration and form. Schonfeld also dedicated her time to fighting antisemitism through her work as the Jewish National Committee’s associate executive director.
Garth Johnson, curator of ceramics at the Everson, said he struggled to name the exhibition. Schonfeld valued the relationships she created with artists, and Johnson wanted to capture the rarity of strong connections between artists and collectors.
“I was trying to think of things that were quotes from poets that were all about two-way streets and mutual impact and balance of one person on another,” he said, “And then there was just something about the phrase “Mutual Affection” that was sweet and affectionate.”
Schonfeld, a wealth management and estate lawyer had an extra apartment on the Upper East Side to house some of her collection as well as visiting artists coming to New York City. Johnson said supporting the artists came first for Schonfeld whether it be through purchasing art or getting works into museums.
Gareth Mason is a British artist who had a solo exhibition at the Everson during his residency at Syracuse University in 2020. His connection with Schonfeld started in 2009 when she reached out about his work.
“Vicki, to me, exemplified the very best of what the art collector can be,” he said. “Her serendipitous intervention helped me to believe that what I do is worthwhile. This exhibition of her collection is a fitting tribute to a powerful advocate for contemporary ceramics.”
The Everson currently has over 100 works on display. Two pieces on display have been part of Everson’s permanent collection since 2018. After the exhibition, Everson is planning to acquire about 40 more works from Schonfeld.
Many of the works in Schonfeld’s collection are functional pieces, used to serve tea and meals in her own home. Family members have loaned pieces to this exhibition from their own cabinets.
Johnson wants to continue Schonfeld’s legacy by adding parts of Schonfeld’s collection to the permanent collection at the museum.
“After this exhibition closes I can pretty much guarantee that pieces from Vicki’s collection will be on view anytime you come to the Everson somewhere in our display space,” he said, “It’s nice that Vicki’s family and friends can come visit her via those pieces that we’ll keep on display.”