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About the Collector - Madeleine P. Plonsker

The life of a dedicated art collector involves, as the poet Robert Frost suggested, traveling the “road not taken.”

In 1961, my husband Harvey and I begin our circuitous journey toward the collections we own today. We were young. Our dreams were big, but our pocket book was relatively small. Still, we decided to venture together into the world of collecting. Harvey had been raised in an art-filled setting, and we felt we should continue that family tradition. To maximize our budget, we agreed to collect only works on paper, either printed or drawn, by master artists of the twentieth century. We considered this particular genre to embody the most intimate expressions of an artist’s personal vision.

Over the following 56 years, we built a collection of lithographs, woodcuts, etchings, dry points, and drawings by such masters as Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Jean Dubuffet, Emil Nolde, Max Beckmann, Robert Rauschenberg, and Jasper Johns, among others. In 1992, we added a new dimension to our collection, incorporating twentieth-century photography. Since photographs are essentially works on paper, we were able to remain true to our original intentions. Soon Picasso and Rauschenberg were hanging alongside Edward Steichen and Bill Brandt.

A decade later, in 2002, I recognized a new collecting opportunity that would create a divergent path in our collecting pattern. Cultural permits to Cuba had become available to educational institutions for the first time since the 1959 revolution. Traveling to Cuba with the Williams College Museum of Art in Western Masachusetts, I felt the intensity of the exotic; Cuba lies just ninety miles off the Florida coast, but after decades in the wake of the Cold War, it was, and still is, off-limits to most Americans, and certainly to me. And yet living there is an entire generation of Cuban photographers, all but unknown to most collectors. I felt that generation of artists beckoning to me. A door opened, a door to a place that no other door had ever led me, and I began the most important dialogue one might have as a collector. The one-on-one intimate conversation between artist and collector. 

Harvey R. & Madeleine P. Plonsker

My Mission

As an ardent collector and cultural ambassador I realize that whatever art you aquire is only on loan to you for your lifetime. Therefore, since the launch of "The Light in Cuban Eyes" I have worked with museums, colleges, universities and galleries to exhibit works from the book I published in 2015. My mission is to find the greatest reach possible for the Cuban photographers whose work I have championed. To find them a continuing world platform is my ultimate goal. Therefore, I eagerly lend works from the collection in hopes of finding an appropriate museum setting for them when I am gone. A place where students and scholars may always gather to learn about Cuba's Special Period through "The Light in Cuban Eyes."

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