Monday, 3 June 2013

Murray Frum: the story of an art Collector

Murray Frum - Image from The Globe and Mail
The Globe and Mail have written an interesting piece on Murray Frum, an art collector who began his collecting passion with the purchase of an Egyptian statue.

"Back in the late 1950s, when Murray Frum, the son of Polish immigrants, was a young dentist, he went to New York with his wife, Barbara. After touring the galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the couple dropped into the gift shop, where Murray spotted a remarkably good collection of reproduction Egyptian sculptures. “Oh, they aren’t copies,” the sales clerk confided, “they are extras from the museum collection.” She then showed the Frums a basement storeroom crammed with stone and wood sculptures, some of which were 4,000 years old, as Mr. Frum relates in his privately published memoir, Collecting: A Work in Progress.
The piece that had captivated him was a wood figure, slightly less than a foot tall, dating from the Middle Kingdom. The sculpture, which had “a beautiful posture and an exquisite face,” had been found during a Met expedition to Egypt and had even been illustrated in one of the museum’s publications. That the piece was for sale in the very museum that had discovered it was a shocking indication of how lowly the Met valued African art, a point underlined by the bargain-basement price tag: $75.
It was irresistible, but Mr. Frum didn’t have enough cash, so he left the museum, borrowed the money from the local branch of his university fraternity and made “the first purchase of what was to become a collection and a life-long focus.”
That wooden sculpture is now part of the Frum collection in the Art Gallery of Ontario in a purpose-built gallery designed by the architectural team of Brigitte Shim and Howard Sutcliffe. Mr. Frum was an active AGO trustee and donor, but that’s not the primary reason he gave the gallery his beloved African treasures, according to Ms. Shim. “He could easily have given the collection to the Royal Ontario Museum, but it is not about an anthropological condition or social patterns. He considered it beautiful art,” she said."


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