“The Imaginary Museum” is a new exhibition series at the New Museum which will periodically feature leading private collections of contemporary art from around the world, providing the opportunity for great works of art to be seen by a broader public, while experimenting with different curatorial models and furthering conversations about collaboration. The first exhibition in this series will feature the Dakis Joannou Collection.
This is the first time that Joannou’s Athens-based collection, one of the very finest collections of contemporary art in the world, will be seen in the United States. Joannou has worked closely with artists and curators over three decades to assemble an unparalleled collection of iconic contemporary works that reflect his distinctive passion and fervor and special focus on figuration. The Dakis Joannou Collection contains 1,500 works by 400 artists, with major concentrations of works by Maurizio Cattelan, Nathalie Djurberg, Urs Fischer, Robert Gober, Jeff Koons, Chris Ofili, Charles Ray, Kiki Smith, and Kara Walker, among many others. Curated exhibitions from the collection have been presented at Joannou’s DESTE Foundation in Athens since the late 1980s and the collection has been exhibited in museums in Paris and Vienna.
The New Museum has invited Jeff Koons to curate the exhibition. Koons is one of the foremost artists of our time, and he had his first museum exhibition at the New Museum in 1981. His curatorial and artistic vision will bring a fresh perspective to the Joannou Collection and to the works on view. Joannou and Koons met in New York in 1985 and have had a close association for nearly three decades. Koons’s One Ball Equilibrium Tank (1985) was the first major artwork that Joannou acquired, initiating the collection. Engaging Koons as curator reflects Joannou’s deep involvement and ongoing conversations with artists that have been a touchstone of the collection from the start.