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Ridinghouse announces "Amor Mundi: The Collection of Marguerite Steed Hoffman"
Two-volume book dives deeply into the creativity of dozens of contemporary artists and the process of assembling one of the outstanding collections of modern and contemporary art.

LONDON.- Ridinghouse announced the publication of Amor Mundi: The Collection of Marguerite Steed Hoffman, a lavishly illustrated, two-volume curated selection of more than 400 outstanding works of modern and contemporary art, catalogued alongside essays, conversations, and artists’ interventions that provide multiple perspectives on the works and the uniquely personal process of collecting them. All works in the book are part of the widely celebrated collection of Marguerite Steed Hoffman, who has pledged that her growing and evolving holdings of modern and contemporary art will become a bequest to the institution she has long supported, the Dallas Museum of Art.

Amor Mundi is edited by independent curator Gavin Delahunty, who also contributed the title essay. Other texts include a preface by Marguerite Steed Hoffman; Someone Saves Something or Someone Somehow … by artist Renée Green; Mementoes Post-Mori: Thoughts on the Collector’s Mania by the intellectual historian Martin Jay, Professor in the Program in Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley; an interview by Jay with Marguerite Steed Hoffman; and Inclusion Implies Exclusion: A Conversation on Painting in Postwar Germany, a discussion between Delahunty and Isabelle Graw, Professor of Art History and Art Theory at the Städelschule, Frankfurt, and co-founder of the journal Texte zur Kunst. Amor Mundi is designed by the London-based graphic design studio A Practice for Everyday Life and printed in Italy by Verona Libri.

Sir Nicholas Andrew Serota, former Director of Tate, said, “Amor Mundi is the ambitious, thoughtful and beautiful complement to a unique venture in which Marguerite and Robert Hoffman, and later Marguerite alone, set out to build a private collection that would eventually have a public purpose. Like the medieval illuminated books that Marguerite also collects, these essays, short texts, and interventions can be read as a form of ‘commentary’ on the art of the last fifty years by some of the most sensitive and insightful writers, historians, and artists of our time. However, they are also a reflection of the outstanding quality of the collection, the seriousness of the enterprise, and Marguerite Steed Hoffman’s profound belief that art enriches our understanding of one another, our place in the world, and our own mortality.”

James Rondeau, President and Eloise W. Martin Director, The Art Institute of Chicago, said, “A gentle discursiveness flows through these remarkable two volumes, an education in collecting. Marguerite Steed Hoffman, initially with her late husband Robert Hoffman, has been gathering for the last twenty-five years in earnest, searching out sets of artworks with clear and personal stakes. Close readings of individual works by scholars reveal some artists’ lifelong concerns, while homages and even confessions by fellow artists share in the uncertainties of making. The design of the book arcs subtly too, giving space for looking then thinking. Marguerite understands that each added work shifts the collection’s relations, but respect remains for what came before. Above all, her through line beautifully reaffirms the particularity and possibility of artists’ material decisions.”

As an exceptional feature, Amor Mundi includes visual interventions by Robert Gober, Ragnar Kjartansson, Raphaela Simon, Michelle Stuart, and Mary Weatherford and critical considerations of 36 artists, many of them written by other artists. Essays include Mark Rosenthal on Jasper Johns, Dana Schutz on Miriam Cahn, Wyatt Kahn on Eva Hesse, Merlin James on Alex Katz, Renate Bertlmann on Agnes Martin, Charles Ray on Anne Truitt, Terry Winters on Cy Twombly, TR Ericsson on Hannah Wilke, and Mary Weatherford on Jackie Windsor.

The book dives deeply into a subset of the modern and contemporary artworks that Marguerite Steed Hoffman has assembled, both with her late husband Robert Hoffman (1947–2006) and then on her own in an extraordinary expansion of the scope of the growing collection. Acquisitions have ranged from Philip Guston, Studio Landscape, 1975; Jasper Johns, Water Freezes, 1961; and Cy Twombly, Sunset Rome, 1957 to Julie Mehretu, A Mercy (after T. Morrison), 2019–20; Peter Doig, Red Man (Sings Calypso), 2017; Ja’Tovia Gary, The Giverny Suite, 2019; and Steve McQueen, Weight, 2016.

Marguerite Steed Hoffman writes, “The need to surround myself with evidence of the creative impulse is constant and unrelenting, a messy, noisy business that drives a large part of my daily activity, occupies oversized terrain on my mental map and requires more resources than prudence should allow. In spite of these conditions, I found that putting my thoughts about collecting on paper was like wrestling with a multilimbed and very nimble beast. As soon as I thought I knew the right direction or where the emphasis should land, that conviction slipped away. I struggled to describe an activity that for me feels as normal as breathing…. Artists can command our collective attention through their dedication to their craft, moving us to be better citizens and individuals. Thanking them for inspiring this project seems wildly insufficient, but gratitude is what I feel in abundance. They keep us vigilant—to what is just, to what is beautiful, to the absurdities and wonders of life’s offerings.”

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