Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Search Results

Collections Search Center
2 documents - page 1 of 1

Oral history interview with Helen Zell, 2016 December 5-6

Interviewee:
Zell, Helen, 1942-  Search this
Zell, Helen, 1942-  Search this
Interviewer:
Berman, Avis, 1949-  Search this
Subject:
Zell, Helen  Search this
Art Collectors: A Project in Partnership with the Center for the History of Collecting in America at The Frick Collection  Search this
Type:
Interviews
Sound recordings
Topic:
Philanthropists -- Illinois -- Chicago -- Interviews  Search this
Theme:
Chicago's Art-Related Archival Materials: A Terra Foundation Resource  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)17404
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)384312
AAA_collcode_zellh16
Theme:
Chicago's Art-Related Archival Materials: A Terra Foundation Resource
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_oh_384312

Oral history interview with Helen Zell

Interviewee:
Zell, Helen, 1942-  Search this
Creator:
Berman, Avis  Search this
Names:
Art Collectors: A Project in Partnership with the Center for the History of Collecting in America at The Frick Collection  Search this
Zell, Helen, 1942-  Search this
Extent:
110 Pages (Transcript)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Pages
Interviews
Sound recordings
Date:
2016 December 5-6
Scope and Contents:
An oral history interview with Helen Zell conducted 2016 December 5-6, by Avis Berman, for the Archives of American Art and the Center for the History of Collecting in America at the Frick Art Reference Library of The Frick Collection, at Zell's home, in Chicago, Illinois.
Zell discusses growing up as a Jewish Northerner in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; her parents and their extended family and the impact on her of visiting with her father's bohemian relatives in Brooklyn; her early interest in reading and English studies; her enthusiasm for collecting and organizing paper dolls and books as a young girl; the family's relocation to Rockville Centre, New York on Long Island; her visit as a teenager to Europe and the Rome Olympics with her grandparents; her college years at the University of Michigan, where she met her first husband, James Fadim; her work as an editor for the American Society for Microbiology; the couple's meeting and socializing with Sam and Janet Zell at the University of Michigan; their move to Chicago in 1967; her first purchases of art at the Old Town Art Fair in Chicago; her work as the general manager for the Chicago String Ensemble; her work on the Women's Board at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago; her divorce from her first husband and her return to school to study interior design at the Harrington Institute and her subsequent work as an interior designer; her deeper involvement with Chicago-based art collectors through her work at the MCA. Zell also describes her reintroduction to Sam Zell after many years apart at an art fair in Chicago in 1995; their burgeoning relationship and his desire to help her acquire and develop an art collection, initially concentrating on Surrealist work; their marriage and acquisition of a neighboring apartment in their condominium building which they renovated in order to create space for their growing collection; the expansion of their collection into photography; her enthusiasm for the work of Joseph Cornell, Louise Bourgeois and Lee Bontecou, among others; the assistance of the gallerist Alan Koppel in acquiring work for the collection; her feelings about loaning from the collection for exhibitions; the valuable assistance of curators and dealers in expanding her knowledge and expertise; and her and her husband's feelings about eventually creating a legacy for their collection. Zell also recalls Robert Natkin; Grace Hokin; Bud Holland; Helyn Goldenberg; Marilynn Alsdorf; Allen Turner; Stefan Edlis; Gael Neeson; Kevin Consey; Madeline Grynsztejn; Elizabeth Smith as well as Michael Heltzer; Meredith Palmer; John Vinci; David Tunkl; Lynne Warren; and Wilbur Ross, among others.
Biographical / Historical:
Helen Zell (1942- ) is a philanthropist and art collector in Chicago, Illinois. Avis Berman (1949- ) is an art historian and author in New York, New York.
General:
Originally recorded as 2 digital wav sound files. Duration is 4 hr., 53 min.
Provenance:
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.
Restrictions:
This interview is access restricted; written permission is required. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Topic:
Philanthropists -- Illinois -- Chicago -- Interviews  Search this
Genre/Form:
Interviews
Sound recordings
Identifier:
AAA.zellh16
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-zellh16

Modify Your Search







or


Narrow By
  • Archival materials
  • Collection descriptions
  • Interviews
  • Sound recordings
  • Archival materials
  • Collection descriptions
  • Interviews
  • Sound recordings
  • Archives of American Art