Jeanne Beker, famed fashion journalist, author and host of
FashionTelevision is premiering her personal art collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario’s annual
Collector’s Series showcase. caught up with Beker before opening night to talk about her favourite pieces and the mystery behind Yves Saint Laurent’s eyes.
Do you have a favourite piece in the collection? "These pieces all mean something special; to me and my girls. Growing up in our house, for them, there was always an artsy vibe because of all the interesting things we had on the walls. When I was growing up, for my parents— who were immigrants and Holocaust survivors— art was something they would never consider buying. It was like the ultimate extravagance and only the fancy people had art in their homes. My mother used to just have these petit point tapestries that she would hang up.  That was the art that I grew up with."
Has your views on art evolved alongside your career? "I have an eye that’s a little more adventurous now or enjoys to be challenged where maybe earlier on things were a little safer. One of my more recent acquisitions was this piece that I got about three years ago in Dublin by an Irish artist named
Patrick O’Reilly. He works mostly with sculpture but he does a lot of interesting three-dimensional pieces, like this one:
I was visiting his studio with a friend of mine, designer Louise Kennedy, and I just fell in love with that piece because it seemed so alive. It seemed like something from the bottom of the sea. I boldly hung it—where it still remains—over my fireplace."
What can this collection tell us about you? "These are images that are so personal to me –  whether they were gifted or I spent my hard-earned dough on them – that they really serve as kind of a visual diary: the places I’ve been to, the people I’ve known, my evolving aesthetic over the years. To see them, first of all, out of context, is pretty damned strange, but it’s also incredibly thrilling that I can share that."
Is there a story behind this Yves Saint Laurent portrait? “I love this portrait of
Yves Saint Laurent. This was a gift from Andre Rau and the gallery who represents him in San Francisco. This is one of the most important designers of the past century and a true tormented genius. It’s really wonderful to see this contemplative portrait and wonder what goes on beneath the eyes.”

(The Collector Series with Jeanne Beker opens Tuesday November 29 at 6 p.m. and is on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Art Rental + Sales Gallery, at 481 University Avenue, until December 16th, 2011)