Photography collectors share the stories behind how their passion began
Starting young as an art collector can open a door to a journey of discovery, where the “hunt” quickly becomes somewhat of an addiction. The goal when just beginning should be to bring meaning to the collection by growing it with pieces you love. The collectors featured here have all chosen to focus on works of photography—but each has had a different starting point. The common denominator? Holden Luntz Gallery in Palm Beach, where Holden and Jodi Luntz’s mentoring set these budding collectors on their path.
Jaye comes from an eminent family of art dealers and collectors. Her grandfather, the late Irving Luntz, was a well-known art dealer in Palm Beach; her parents, Holden and Jodi Luntz, have had a successful photography gallery on Worth Avenue for many years. Jaye has followed in their footsteps and now runs a gallery next door geared toward a younger clientele.
She grew up shaped by the images that have been seared into her consciousness, the artists who became family friends, and the knowledge her family shared with her. “My father would drive me to school and play Van Morrison’s Moondance in the car,” Jaye recalls. “On my sixteenth birthday, I was given Elliott Landy’s photograph of the Moondance album cover.”
Today, the 27-year-old is building a very personal collection and is excited to have recently moved into her own West Palm Beach home, where she is able to hang the images that make her happy. “I am not collecting just to decorate my walls,” she says. “The works must have an emotional resonance for me.” Jaye’s preferences have evolved and lean toward pieces that have a human perspective, are not so formally composed, and illustrate people at leisure enjoying their time together. Explains Jaye: “I have such an appreciation for the darkroom and works that capture an actual moment in time.”
Photography by Jerry Rabinowitz
Historically relevant black-and-white photographs and classic artists from 1911 through the 1950s—including Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Édouard Boubat, Paul Strand, Inge Morath, and Guy Bourdin— are facets of Jaye’s taste. Two pieces by Edward Weston, Nude on Sand, Oceano (1936) and Two Shells (1927), are favorites. “To have those pieces, which I first saw in photography classes and in textbooks, on my walls now is really incredible,” she says. “Photography is so accessible compared with other media. It gives you that chance.”
Jaye says it is important to go to galleries and art fairs like Paris Photo and Photo London to broaden the scope of your collection. “You may see something that initially may not appeal to you, but as you look at it, it becomes more and more interesting— and that’s a good way to learn,” she says. “In building a collection, you have to have an emotional reaction to something. You have to surround yourself with things that you really love. Your collection should not be for anyone but yourself. You’re not an institution.”
David Lubben and Cari Anderson
This Wellington couple has found a way to meld divergent tastes and themes as they build a photography collection that reflects their personal interests and experiences. Lubben has always had a passion for art and possessed an earlier grouping of German Expressionist art and African tribal masks. In his current photography collection, there are a number of African references. “Having been on several photographic safaris in Africa, I have admired the impactful images of Scottish-born wildlife photographer David Yarrow and [British photographer] Nick Brandt,” Lubben says.
“They’re evocative and call up what it’s like to be in Africa, so it’s a fun and personal way of remembering.” In the home he shares with Anderson, Yarrow’s Desert Flight (2014), which depicts a zebra leaping across the ground, hangs in the living room. In an alcove in the dressing room is Brandt’s Rhino on Lake, Nakuru (2006).
Anderson grew up with the compelling images from her mother’s fashion magazines. “From the time I was 10 years old, I could hardly wait for the next issue of Elle or Vogue to arrive,” she recalls. Even though Lubben and Anderson come from different perspectives, they generally agree on their acquisitions. When a piece appears on the scene that brings uncertainty from one of the partners, Lubben describes their approach: “Do you ask for permission or forgiveness?”
The couple’s collection includes photographer Arthur Rothstein’s evocative black-and-white images he shot for President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Resettlement Administration. The photographs depict the human suffering brought about by the Great Depression and the natural disasters in the midwest in the 1930s. Dust Storm, Cimarron County, Oklahoma (1936), which has become an iconic image from that era in American history, is one of several in their collection. Rothstein’s photographs “line the hallway to our bedroom,” Lubben says. “My parents lived through the Depression and told me about it, and these images remind me of their past.”
One artist the couple would like to acquire to complement Rothstein’s images is Dorothea Lange. “I’ve always admired her work and hope someday to own a couple of her pieces,” Lubben says. Migrant Mother, Nipomo, California (1936) and White Angel Breadline, San Francisco (1932) are two of Lubben’s favorites, but he recognizes that they are somewhat unapproachable and difficult to come by.
Photography by Jerry Rabinowitz
Lubben and Anderson also own some of the haunting black-and-white classics by French photographer Édouard Boubat. Highlights include romantic portraits of his muse and wife, Lella, as well as casually captured scenes such as Les Amoureux de Paris IV (1952), featuring a couple sharing a kiss in a park; Le Triporteur (Patissier sur son Triporteur) (1954), which depicts a pastry chef in his white coat and toque riding through the streets of Paris on a delivery bicycle; and Folies Bergéres III (1962), showing a group of dancers in animal-print costumes relaxing backstage.
Anderson’s interest in fashion photography led her to Italian photographer Franco Rubartelli and his famous images of Veruschka, the muse and lover who made him famous. She found Veruschka, Safari Dress by Yves Saint Laurent (French Vogue, July/August 1968) on the internet, and Holden Luntz Gallery was able to acquire it for her from Paris. The image ties in well with Lubben’s African pieces. Another photo, Terry O’Neill’s seductive portrait Brigitte Bardot with Cigar, Spain (1971), spoke to Anderson when she first saw it at Art Basel Miami Beach in 2016. Two years later, she was able to buy it.
Some acquisitions have been completely serendipitous. Anderson recalls one day when Lubben dropped into Holden Luntz Gallery and spotted a piece by Harry Benson, Berlin Kiss (1996). “I was in another store at the time, and an hour later I showed up,” she says. “David showed me the piece, and we loved it because we had just been to Berlin. Then Holden said to us, ‘Harry is sitting right over there.’ So we met Harry and started collecting his pieces.” It all came full circle when, last year, Lubben arranged a sitting with Benson for Anderson’s birthday. “It resulted in some beautiful photographs of us both,” she says.
Zac and Brianna Potter
For Zac Potter, romance has played a big part in his collecting journey. About six years ago, he and then-girlfriend Brianna (now his wife) were walking along Worth Avenue in Palm Beach when they passed a gallery window and a large black-and-white photograph of an unlikely scene grabbed their attention. In the image, a wolf strides purposefully along the bar of a saloon, his eyes fixed straight ahead. In the background, the barman is pouring a beer, a young woman reading a newspaper is turned away from what is happening, and another patron is playing pool in the back of the room. Surprisingly, none of them seem to take notice of the wolf.
The work, The Wolf of Main Street (2015), by David Yarrow, immediately drew Zac and Brianna in—and the moment would prove to be the beginning of Zac’s collecting journey.
Hailing from Kodiak Island in Alaska, Brianna has a deep love for the Pacific Northwest and its rampant wildlife. Sometime after that day on Worth Avenue, while Brianna was abroad for the summer, Zac wanted to get her a gift to surprise her upon her return. He went into the Holden Luntz Gallery, where they had originally seen the Yarrow photograph, and purchased it. When he gave it to Brianna, she was bowled over and “thrilled beyond words.” In fact, many of the photographs in the couple’s home are pieces Zac has purchased as presents for Brianna. “I know what she loves, and I’ve bought them because I knew how happy they would make her,” Potter explains.
Yarrow’s works have become the center of the Potters’ collection. Zac has covered the walls of not only his home but also his office with powerful images of bears, zebras, giraffes, elephants, and lions in their natural habitat. “I was opening up a new law firm and took inspiration from the Luntz Gallery space to design the office like an art gallery, which I thought would be a wonderful space to work in,” he says. What he had not bargained for was the fact that these large works would not fit into the elevator of the office building. Undeterred, he had each piece mounted onto the top of the elevator cab; the elevator stopped between floors so the pieces could carefully be lifted off the top of the cab.
Photography by Jerry Rabinowitz
In the office entrance, Heaven Can Wait, Amboseli, Kenya (2014), sets the scene. In the photograph, a giraffe kicks up dust as he runs into a halo of brilliant sunlight bursting from the clouds. Zac saw it as a symbol of optimism for his new business venture. When he opened the office in April 2018, Yarrow actually attended—and was surrounded by seven of his own wildlife images.
If Zac could save just one piece in the face of a catastrophic event, it would be The Circle of Life II (2015). Selected for his own office at the law firm, the photograph depicts a family of elephants of all sizes and ages standing in a circle to protect their young under a dark and threatening sky. The image is a study in shades of gray and highlights, in sharp detail, every wrinkle on the elephants’ bodies.
More Yarrow works fill the Potters’ Palm Beach home. One that has a special meaning for Brianna relates back to the first time they met the artist at a dinner Jodi Luntz held at the gallery. Seated next to Yarrow, Brianna asked him which of his works was currently his favorite. He responded with Cara Cigar (2018), a work meant to advertise Tag Heuer watches and not yet released as a print at the time. In the image, British supermodel and actress Cara Delevingne stands in front of the blurred head of an angry lion, who is coming up fast behind her. At the photo shoot, a cage was set up in front of Delevingne so she could run to safety if the lion got too grumpy. The print took a while to come out, and the moment it was released, Zac jumped on it to remind Brianna of that special moment when she first met Yarrow.
Lately, Zac has been exploring the wider world of contemporary photography, visiting art fairs and galleries to see what else he and Brianna might fall in love with. That can be quite the task, he notes, because we live in a time when photography is everywhere. “Everyone is taking photographs all day, every day and publishing their images through social media,” he says. “The question is, how does finer art emerge from that, particularly when you don’t have any experience? And when you’re starting to collect, how do you tell the difference between the surplus of images you’re being flooded with every day and something that’s truly special?” His answer: Visit museums and galleries to see images that are fundamentally different from the ones you see every day. “If you find something that moves you and sticks with you, like The Wolf of Main Street did with us, then you’ve found that moment of falling in love with a piece of art—and that’s where you start.”