Dialogue

Celebrity Collector: Elton John

Elton John. Courtesy of Getty Images.

Elton John. Courtesy of Getty Images.

Earlier this year, Tate Modern announced an upcoming fall exhibition of works from Elton John's photography collection. With prints by heavyweights like Man Ray, Tina Modotti, and Alfred Stieglitz, visitors will have a rare opportunity to get up close with the impressive spread.

While the show is certainly a blockbuster event, it isn't the first time John's collection has made waves in the art world. In 2007, a similar exhibition of his photography collection was headed to the Baltic Centre of Contemporary Art, until police removed Nan Goldin's controversial image of two nude children; at which point, John requested to shut down the show.

John has been collecting since the early 1990s, and as the upcoming sale of his painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol is apt to remind us, photographs are just the beginning for the singer. Counting Damien Hirst and Ai Weiwei among his friends, the Rocket Man isn't shy about his collection. His catalog of paintings, sculptures, and glass works, among other art objects, is so extensive that a special curator manages the archive.

"You must understand that I live with my art collection," John explained in a 2015 interview with online auctioneer Paddle 8. His full-time curator, Newell Harbin, is responsible for giving him tips on how to invest wisely.

Here are some of the artists in his collection:

Robert Mapplethorpe. Courtesy of YouTube.

Robert Mapplethorpe. Courtesy of YouTube.

Robert Mapplethorpe
It turns out John and his partner, David Furnish, boast a number of limited full-color flower photographs from the 1980s, the singer told Architectural Digest.

The work has had a powerful effect on John's house guests. Jake Shears, the lead singer of the Scissor Sisters, told Vanity Fair: "I never paid much attention to Mapplethorpe until I was in Elton John's art library one afternoon, and I suddenly felt like I was discovering Robert's work for the very first time."

 

Philip Taaffe. Courtesy of YouTube.

Philip Taaffe. Courtesy of YouTube.

Philip Taaffe
In an interview with the Guardian, John included works by Philip Taaffe in the visions he sees in Nice: "When I wake each morning in my room in Nice I am surrounded by the works of Schnabel, Hockney, Warhol, Cecily Brown, Philip Taaffe and photographs by Norman Parkinson, a fashion photographer I adore. I spend my time moving them around." Notably, Taaffe showed up to John and Furnish's wedding in 2014.

 

Tracey Emin. Courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin.

Tracey Emin. Courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin.

Tracey Emin
It comes as no surprise that John owns work by Tracey Emin, whom he even invited to speak at last year's AIDS Foundation's 14th Annual Benefit.

 

Wang Guangyi, Coca-Cola (2002). Courtesy of artnet Galleries.

Wang Guangyi, Coca-Cola (2002). Courtesy of artnet Galleries.

Wang Guangyi
It seems John is also looking beyond the Western market. According to the New York Times, John owns works by Chinese mega-star pop artist Wang Guangyi.

Keith Haring, Untitled (1980). Image: collection Keith Haring Foundation © Keith Haring Foundation

Keith Haring, Untitled (1980). Image: collection Keith Haring Foundation © Keith Haring Foundation

Keith Haring
Works by Keith Haring are a big hit in the John-Furnish household. And when John was told in an interview with the Telegraph that his home looked like an "art gallery designed by Austin Powers," thanks in no small part to canvases by the graffiti artist, John conceded, “That's exactly what I wanted, the LA Seventies rock star look."

 

David Lachapelle, American Jesus: Archangel Michael: And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer (2009). Image: Courtesy of Paul Kasmin Gallery

David Lachapelle, American Jesus: Archangel Michael: And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer (2009). Image: Courtesy of Paul Kasmin Gallery

David LaChapelle
Then, of course, there's David LaChapelle, the photographer whose vibrant, heavily Pop-referenced portraits of the music legend stand as the wildest in his yearbook yet. See the iconic images for yourself.

Source: https://news.artnet.com/people/elton-john-...