Two of Andy Warhol’s Miriam Davidson portraits are among the works showcased at Griffin Art Projects during the Per Diem Part II show. Griffin Art Projects

A unique collection of private paintings from a selection of internationally renowned artists, including Andy Warhol, Lynda Benglis, Cindy Sherman and Donald Judd, is now being showcased locally at Griffin Art Projects.

Per Diem Part II: The Gerd Metzdorff Collection is a continuation of the gallery’s exhibition of the late Gerd Metzdorff’s extensive art collection. Instead of the photo-based and print elements showcased in the former edition, this collection will feature more than 60 paintings, collected across the 1980s and ’90s during Metzforff’s time as a flight attendant.

Particular highlights include two of Andy Warhol’s spray painted portraits of Toronto socialite Miriam Davidson, never before exhibited prints in both green and yellow, and four previously unseen framed lithographs by Donald Judd.

Major Canadian historical works, like Jack Shadbolt’s Dark Abstraction and Gordon Smith’s Coastal Town, are also included, alongside works from other local artists like Jack Weldon Humphrey, Tim Gardener and Sonny Assu.

Art aficionados have curator Lisa Baldissera and collectors David Birdsall and Grant Mann to thank for the impressive showcasing. As his best friend for “many, many years,” Mann said he inherited Metzdorff’s 300-piece collection when he passed away in 2020, following a two year struggle with cancer.

There had been no question as to whether he and husband Birdsall would keep the collection for their own viewing pleasure, or display it for a wider audience.

“Putting it on display was something that was very important to me and David,” said Mann.

“Gerd was a really interesting man and he loved collecting art, but he wasn’t so much focused on hanging the work. He was more about collecting it. We felt that art is really created to be enjoyed, and so we’re now so excited that the public gets to see it, and for free.”

Making the collection free to view was part of Mann’s mission to make art accessible to all, because art, he said, “is for all ages, and for everyone.” 

“It’s one of those common language things that allows people to really feel a unifying bond. I think for the young people, it’s really amazing that they can encounter what has become art from another generation now. I think this collection is very inspiring in that way.”

Ensuring the art world is approachable and accessible is an ode to Metzdorff in itself, said Grant, for the man who had garnered the collection hadn’t been some hoity toity art collector with uber wealth.

He had simply been a flight attendant who liked art, one who saved his per diems diligently and used them to purchase works on his routes from New York to Germany.

“Gerd didn’t come from a family that collected art, it was all his own initiative,” said Birdsall.

“He was just a working class kind of guy who worked for the airlines, and it was that which allowed him to explore the art world,” he said.

“He ended up with this pretty massive collection of art. So this can just be a reminder to people, or show people, that you don’t have to be a trust fund baby and have a history in the art world to appreciate art when you start collecting.”

Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

By Mina Kerr-Lazenby, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 01, 2023 at 10:32

This item reprinted with permission from   North Shore News   North Vancouver, British Columbia
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