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A group of around 20 works, including paintings by Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) and Lucio Fontana (1899- 1968), feature at the gallery’s stand during the fair, which runs from May 3-7 at the Park Avenue Armory.

That is only part of Dickinson’s show, however. Sixty works are simultaneously on show at its new premises at 980 Madison Avenue from April 25-June 6, starring artists such as Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) and Pablo Picasso (1881-1973).

The dual exhibitions represent the entirety of the collection, built over the course of 30 years. It reflects the collector’s repeated purchases of some artists as well as a number of one-offs, now available for prices up to $2.5m.

“I was never willing to sell ‘a’ painting,” the anonymous collector says. “I would miss it too much. Selling the entire collection is a different story. I don’t know how to explain it, but as much as I would suffer if I sold one or two paintings, I am able to sell the entire collection without pain.”

Together the exhibition is called Beauty, Shared: A Collector’s Vision, a line taken from a quote by reclusive American artist Joseph Cornell (1903-72). Well-known for his surreal assemblages, he is one of the artists the collector bought extensively. The 14 works from Cornell will receive their own room at the gallery.

Youthful interest

Though never an art world professional, the collector remembers that his fascination with art history dates back to his youth.

While his contemporaries at university hung their walls with posters of films and the Beatles, he searched out posters of Kandinsky paintings. The focus of his buying remained on 20th century giants, with a particular taste for certain collecting “pockets” such as Cubism.

“He is what I would call a proper collector,” says Dickinson’s managing director Emma Ward. “He has bought things that he has really responded to that he has loved living with in his home. They have been part of everyday life.”

“The collector has bought things that he has really responded to, that he has loved living with in his home – they have been part of everyday life

In both parts of the show, the dealership has worked to bring a sense of the collection’s former domestic setting.

“It’s not going to feel like a white box in either venue,” Ward says. For her, it is a crucial point that this collection was put together to be enjoyed rather than as an investment, which recently “seems to have become far more prevalent in buyer’s minds. One hopes that people will still buy like him.”

It is Dickinson’s first formal show at the new location (it also retains its St James’s, London, gallery).

Prices at Dickinson range up to $2.5m.

TEFAF highlights

Early May is a busy time for the New York market, with buyers coming in for the auctions and major fairs. At TEFAF roughly 92 exhibitors bring a mix of Modern and Contemporary art and design as well as selection of antiquities.

This is the third staging of the spring fair.

Among the highlights are a double life-size royal portrait of a ruler, possibly Ptolemy Euergetes III, from the 3rd century BC offered by ancient art specialist Cahn;Trépied à Feuilles, a lamp designed by Alberto Giacometti c.1937 on the stand of L’Arc en Seine and Man Ray’s photograph Le Violon d’Ingres brought by Galerie 1900-2000.

An extensive programme of events includes talks on the art market’s expansion into a global industry.

tefaf.com