The late Chicago plastic mogul, art collector, and philanthropist Stefan Edlis, together with his wife Gael Neeson, amassed an era-defining collection of postwar and contemporary art. The two focused on evolving their collection with the changing times, setting in place self-imposed rules that would allow them to bring in new works and let go of old ones in a continuous cycle. “They were committed to having their works on view,” Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago director Madeleine Grynsztejn recently told ARTnews. “That’s the kind of rigorous parameters that other collectors don’t necessarily follow.”
One of the city’s top arts patrons, Edlis is remembered most for his major gifts to museums, having donated 44 works by artists such as Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, Richard Prince, Damien Hirst and more worth a collective $400 million to the Art Institute of Chicago. The couple’s collection also included works by provocative artists such as Maurizio Cattelan and Jeff Koons.
“They encouraged all of us to explore the often challenging and clashing ideas present in the now,” said Cathy Busch, Christie’s Midwest managing director.
Below, some highlights from Edlis and Neeson’s holdings, as well as others in the MCA’s permanent collection, purchased through the couple’s acquisition fund established in 2000.