Steve Shane: Picture House - Art Collector

It’s difficult to find space on the walls of Steve Shane’s New York home that isn’t already covered floor to ceiling by art. Jess Holburn talks to him about his 1,000 strong collection and doing it for the love.

Steve Shane in his New York apartment. Photographed for Art Collector issue 74, October - December 2015. Photogaphy by Jason Wyche

Unlike so many typical Manhattan collectors who present with a veneer of intimidation, Steve Shane is warm and welcoming and, fittingly, the artworks in his collection cuddle up to one another in a cosy, salon style fashion on almost every surface of his home. Preferring to be described as “art lover” rather than “art collector,” Shane’s collection straddles that fine line between trashy and tasteful; the rooms of his home are filled ceiling to floor with works that are consistently kitsch and hyperbolic. Shane has amassed a colossal collection of more than 1,000 pieces over the course of three decades, with artworks by John Baldessari, Louise Bourgeois, Julian Schnabel, Cindy Sherman and John Stezaker (to name a few) gracing his walls. But unlike New York uber-collectors Herbert and Dorothy Vogel, who in their time amassed what has been called one of the most important post-1960s art collections in the United States, Shane keeps no artwork hidden nor in storage. His collection spills out to the homes of his family and friends. Shane donates artwork each year, including a Schnabel to the Newark Museum, a Grace Hardigan to his hometown at The Detroit Institute of Art and a Peter Nagy to the Whitney Museum. Nothing has given him more pleasure than giving back to the arts community.
Shane’s interest in the arts began in high school, inspired by his humanities teacher who encouraged him to learn as much as he could about artists such as Chagall, Rembrandt, Renoir, and Dali. On leaving school he was a regular visitor to the Guggenheim, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney, exploring their collections for hours on end. He would buy postcards and reproduction posters by the likes of Picasso and Modigliani, which he then plastered across his walls, much like he does now with original works. “This collecting thing is essentially about me living with art,” says Shane.

There is something nostalgic and eternally youthful about the way Shane selects and collects his art. He doesn’t collect for the “cool factor”, buying not with his ears but with his eyes and with his heart. “I’m looking for a buzz,” he says. And it’s a very particular kind of buzz indeed.
Shane is attracted to artists with a sense of humour. New York-based transgender artist Caroline Wells Chandler is a prime example. Wells Chandler is an artist known for employing tactile materials from American craft stores to create a playful and nuanced visual language. Wells Chandler says of one of his works in Shane’s collection, Tomb Empty: “I like to think of this painting as the spirit of Liza Minnelli singing It Had to be You a la Carol Burnett’s Miss Hannigan coming off a bender. I like to think of art as a drug and the process of making it as a psychedelic experience.”

Other recent obsessions of Shane’s include Danish artist Torben Ribe, who describes his own work as “a visual encyclopaedia of fucked up graphic solutions”. Shane came across Ribe at NADA Fair in New York at the booth of Copenhagen’s David Risley Gallery. One of Ribe’s works has found a new home in Shane’s kitchen, an apt position given that it features a slice of plastic pizza surrounded by a collage of flower and decorative cake icing. The aesthetics of Wells Chandler and Ribe typify the kinds of strangely theatrical and tactile combinations that have over the decades come to characterise Shane’s collection.

Bushwick gallery Theodore Art’s Stephanie Theodore introduced me to Shane, after he bought two paintings by Theodore Art artist Christopher Moss. She has also been invited over to see his collection for herself. “Shane has been at the centre of the emerging artist scene for over two decades and the breadth of his collection demonstrates his assiduous pursuit of fascinating new art,” she says. “His passion for the hunt of the new is equal to the enthusiasm with which he shares his prizes. Steve opens his homes to artists, dealers and other collectors to give them an informed view of his vast and varied holdings. He is a unique eye of the contemporary art hurricane.”

For Shane, it’s the story behind works and their artists that opens up a meaningful connection for this rarefied kind of collector. As I walk away with a handful of his Edvard Munch and Francis Bacon inspired lenticular business cards, I can’t help but agree with this collector's insistence that he is purely in this for the fun. And for the love.


A full caption list of the works in the New York home of current issue collector Steve Shane.


Top Row:
Valerie Hegarty, Fog Warning with Barnacles, 2010
Middle Row: left to right
John Stezaker, Marriage (Film Portrait Collage), LXIV, 2010
Object Orange,
Auburndale Site #4, Detroit. Demolition. Disneyland, 2006
Bottom Row: left to right
Aaron Zimmerman, Cat Scratch Leader, 2006
Cindy Sherman,
Untitled (Serpentine), 2003
Background wall, left:
Daniel Gordon Reclining Nude, 2009



Clockwise from top left:
Krisjanis Kaktins-Gorsline, Double Love, 2007
Aaron Zimmerman,
Zeitgeist, 2005-2009
Dennis Hollingsworth,
The Waterfront (Wet on Wet #14), 1996
Thorsten Brinkmann,
Milkymaid (close up), 2009
Curtis Mitchell,
Arnold, 1994
Sam Salisbury,
Untitled (Checkered Red-Haired Woman), 2003
Florian Slotawa,
Schatze aus zwei Jahrtausenden (Treasures from 2000 Years), 2001
Floor Statue: Marianne Vitale,
The Jostler, 2009



Wall: clockwise from top left
Eli Gabriel, Halpern Huck, 2012
Kristine Moran,
The Night Swim, 2010
Gilbert Hsiao,
Worterbuch, 2008
Rob de Oude,
Forest and the Trees, 2012
Jane Hammond,
The Regular Matthew Walker, 2007
Rainer Neumeier,
Untitled (F6), 2007

Statues/Sculptures: clockwise from bottom left
Takashi Murakami, Yoshiko Plush Animal from The Creatures of Planet 66 Collection, 2006
Jesse Greenberg,
Face Stamp in Stance, 2014
Carl D’Alvia,
Romeo, 2004



Left Wall: top to bottom
Cindy Sherman, Untitled (Pregnant), 1990-1991
Donald Baechler,
Suits (Jazz #2), 1990
Nan Goldin,
Clemens at Lunch at Café de Sade, Lacoste, France, 1999

Back Wall: left to right
Top row:
Jennifer Coates, Mirage, 2005
Eric Niebuhr,
How Fast It Could End, 2003
Brian Fahlstrom,
Our Last, 2006
Kendell Carter,
Drip Painting #3, 2008

Second row from top:
Laura Ball, Tie Breaker, 2006
Molly Zuckerman-Hartung,
Untitled, 2007
Nichole van Beek,
Intravenous, 2013
Andre Ethier,
Untitled, 2006
Peter Allen Hoffmann,
Proscenium, 2008

Third row from top:
Ryan Richey, The mass increases over the decades unnoticed, 2010
Aaron Zimmerman,
Carrion Fairy 2, 2012
Aris Moore,
Bernice, 2011
Ajit Chauhan,
Untitled from series ‘I’ve never been to me’ (Pat Benatar Get Nervous 1982), 2009
Gideon Rubin,
We Still Live In A Gas Mask World, 2008

Bottom Row:
Carrie Fonder, Urge, 2009
Bjarne Melgaard,
Untitled (red), 2012



Wall left to right:
Top row:
Andre Ethier, Untitled, 2007
Anders Oinonen,
Pink Shoulder, 2009
Jose Lerma,
Untitled, 2006

Second row from top:
Stef Driesen, Untitled, 2006
Evan Nesbit,
Saccadic Rhythm (Orange Study), 2012
Chris Bradley,
Chicken Bitch, 2012

Bottom row:
Dominic Shepherd, At the Mouth, 2007
Ajit Chauhan,
Andy Williams: Andy, 2009
Mike Farruggia,
Kerpow, 2005

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