Art Is the Remedy

October 31, 2012

For the 20th Anniversary Auction [Part Two], LAMA is pleased to announce the sale of over 20 works from the Cedars-Sinai Hospital art collection.

Highlights in the upcoming auction from this collection include the tapestry Turquoise by Alexander Calder (1975), the oil on canvas Still Life in Black and Blue by Claude Venard (1958), and the lithograph Nude with Flowers by Alberto Giacometti (1960).

Photo credit: Bill Pollard

In 1976, Los Angeles business leaders and art collectors, Frederick R. Weisman and Marcia Simon Weisman, owned an expansive art collection that had been growing since the 1940s. It included works by Willem de Kooning, Roy Lichtenstein, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Paul Cezanne, and Pablo Picasso, just to name a few. In this same year, they decided to donate over one hundred works to Cedars-Sinai Hospital.

Why might they donate so many magnificent pieces to a hospital?

Ten years earlier in 1966, Frederick suffered a serious head injury that caused him to slip into a coma. He recovered, but his memory was so blurry that he couldn’t even remember his wife’s name. Marcia (sister to influential patron to the arts Norton Simon) had the brilliant idea of showing Frederick some of his favorite pieces of art to get his memory running again. She showed him an abstract painting, and he quickly responded, “Jackson Pollock.” According to Marcia, “There was an obvious relationship to the art and his recovery.”

When they toured the empty hallways of Cedars-Sinai’s newly expanded wing, they knew that it was time to transform the sterile grounds into an environment of healing through art. In addition to their donation, Marcia championed gallery owners, museums, friends, patients, and even the artists themselves to donate works.

Today the hospital resembles a veritable museum, but according to John T. Lange, the hospital’s curator of art, “We’re not a museum or a gallery. We have to be mindful of that. We’re a hospital and we have a purpose.” The Arts Advisory Committee decides which pieces are appropriate for a therapeutic setting, and which pieces might be useful elsewhere. Today the collection boasts more than 4,000 pieces of art: sculptures adorn the public courtyards, paintings and lithographs line the hallways, and museum posters comfort patients in their rooms.


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