L ouis J. C. Tan was an ‘old school’ collector who spent decades seeking out individual artworks of impeccable quality. Each piece in the present sequence of works is visually arresting, intellectually stimulating and emotionally engaging; while many count among the finest examples of their artists’ oeuvres. Discrete and exacting, Tan travelled the world to acquire them and – in their appreciation – we understand something of his extraordinary taste and unstinting vision.
Tan’s architectural training in Britain shaped his love of draughtsmanship and afforded him an inherent appreciation for the qualities of line. Thus, his collection includes drawings from across the centuries; delicate watercolours by R.P. Bonnington, haunting Shelter Drawings by Henry Moore, and explosive works on paper by Jean-Michael Basquiat.
From his home in West London, he developed a learned and passionate interest in British art, with many important figures from the 20th century represented in these works. This collection is led by an immensely significant early work by David Hockney – Different Kinds of Water Pouring into a Swimming pool, Santa Monica – which acts as a direct precursor to the artist’s celebrated pool paintings. Created in 1965, the painting marks a watershed moment in Hockney’s career, and the beginning of his long-held fascination with California as a subject matter.
To add to this, he sought out two works by Howard Hodgkin that are notable for their electric chromatic effect. The vibrant Counting the Days, in particular, should be counted amongst the very best of Hodgkin's colour studies.
Meanwhile, a lifelong love of opera allowed him an appreciation for refined elegance, and it was these qualities that he admired most in the works of artists such artists as Gerhard Richter and Rachel Whiteread, whose Untitled (Shelf) demonstrates her contemplative approach to memory and the spaces inhabited by objects.
Finally, Andy Warhol’s Little Campbell’s Soup Can serves as a microcosm for this expertly curated collection; it is a miniature masterpiece that is in keeping with the very best of its type, and it is notable for it’s dazzling aesthetic, robust poetic concept, and immense art historical significance. Ultimately, these works were loved and lived with; in ensemble they speak volumes of the connoisseurship of their collector.