LOS ANGELES – To your left in the lobby are Damien Hirst’s points. Above the fireplace is a Louise Bourgeois spider. Opposite the main bed are Cy Twombly’s whirlpools.
Los Angeles isn’t necessarily known as a city of art collectors, but the smack dab tucked away in Beverly Hills is one of the most active buyers in the market: Eugenio López Alonso, heir to the Grupo Jumex fruit juice empire. in Mexico, which has landed on an ArtNews list of the top 200 collectors in the world for at least five consecutive years.
Many credit López, 53, for helping elevate Mexico’s contemporary art scene through the institution he founded in 2013, Museo Jumex. Every work on display there at the Zona Maco art fair in May was that of an artist originally or living in Mexico, noted Artnet.
With the Museo Jumex, designed by David Chipperfield in the Polanco district of Mexico City, López joined the ranks of collectors who have launched their own private museums.
“Jumex was as transformative for Mexico City as the opening of the great anthropology museum was in 1964,” said Marc Porter, president of Christie’s Americas. “The Eugenio Museum has confidently re-established the capital as the center of the contemporary art world.”
Prior to the museum, López ran the Fundación Jumex Arte Contemporáneo, a non-profit organization in Ecatepec that he founded in 2001 with the support of Grupo Jumex, the company founded by his father, Eugenio López Rodea.
The foundation – which has been incorporated into the museum – rewards curators and artists for postgraduate studies abroad; subscribes and lends works of art to major exhibitions; and supports a variety of educational programs in Mexico and the United States.
Museo Jumex experienced upheaval last year following several departures, including that of artistic director Julieta González and deputy director Rosario Nadal, after management quietly changed hands. (None could be reached for comment, and López declined to discuss it.)
With more than 2,800 works, López’s collection is one of the most important in Latin America. In 2006, the Los Angeles Times estimated López’s total art spending to date to be between $ 50 million and $ 80 million; López said that figure was “higher now”, although it is not precise.
His taste is bold and eclectic, with works by top notch artists like Donald Judd (one of his vertically suspended “stack” projects) and Jeff Koons (a backyard sculpture) alongside works by Mexican artists such as Gabriel Orozco, Mariana Castillo Deball, José Dávila and Pia Camil – all purchased in consultation with Esthella Provas, a close friend and artistic advisor.
His house is a feast for the eyes of any art lover, with work on all surfaces – here a Catalan, there a Richter, around the corner a Rauschenberg. His home in Mexico City is also inundated with heavy hitters, such as Richard Serra, Julie Mehretu, Lucio Fontana and Ellsworth Kelly.
López serves on the board of directors of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York and as vice-president of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, where, along with its former president Jeffrey Soros, he led a fundraising campaign. in 2013 to establish a $ 100 million endowment.
In a recent interview at his mid-century Los Angeles home, López spoke of developing his deep love for art.
For 12 years, starting in 1994, you ran the Chac Mool contemporary art gallery in Los Angeles with Esthella, who remained your artistic advisor. How did this experience influence your becoming a collector?
Every piece that came to the gallery, I didn’t want to let it go.
What is the first major piece you bought?
A Robert Motherwell at Sotheby’s for $ 160,000 in 1995 when I was 26. It was the first time in my life that I had a real passion for something.
How did you find out about art?
I’ve been to museums – disturbing people, asking them questions – curators, collectors, exploring galleries. I Lied To My Dad Telling Me I Go To The Dallas Machine Factory When I Really Go To The Menil Collection Opening [in Houston].
How did you decide what to buy?
I have always bought something that I liked. When I bought this Brice Marden, my dad told me no more than $ 300,000. I was like, “I want it, I want it, I want it.” I bought it for $ 260,000.
What made you decide to create the foundation?
In 1995 I visited the Saatchi collection in London and thought, “I can do something like this in Mexico” – share my art with people, like the IBM collection, like the one at Chase Manhattan Bank , like the DuPont [company] in Europe.
What are your favorite genres?
I like abstract expressionists and Pop Art.
Your favorite artist?
Twombly. I have six Twombly. This is something that I cannot explain to you. Why? Because I have never seen this kind of aesthetic in any other work of art. Looks like a child’s doodle.
You don’t sell art very often. What do you think of those who see art as an investment?
They see it as the stock market right now, and art is not the stock market. There is something wrong. Of course, you can’t help but see an artist selling for $ 3 million and feeling smart and amazing and feeling ‘What a genius I am’, but it wasn’t because of it. There are a lot of works of art that I bought and still love, and nothing has happened to them. But I still love them.
You split your time between Los Angeles and Mexico. What makes you come back here?
The happiest times of my life have been in this house. I am Mexican; Mexico is my great love. But my hometown is Los Angeles. There is nowhere else I feel more comfortable in my life.