Cathy Kaplan © Ryland West

Cathy Kaplan steps into the spotlight for the latest PHOTOFAIRS IN FOCUS interview. With her love for artwork originating from a childhood visit to The Met, Kaplan’s passion for art, objects and photography has driven her to be one of the most respected figures within the photography sphere in New York – and beyond. 

A collection of Cath Kaplan’s black & white prints in her New York Apartment – courtesy of Cathy Kaplan

PHOTOFAIRS NEW YORK: How did you start collecting?

CATHY KAPLAN: I have been collecting art and objects since I was a child. I have always wanted to live among things that engaged me in conversations about people and how they have lived. The photographs that form the core of my collection are by or about women. I bought my first photographs at an auction of the photographs in the Paper Magazine archive.

1: Cathy Kaplan stands in front of William Wegman’s mural with Sidley Partners Sam Gandhi and Michael Schmidtberger
2: Blaze the beagle with two artworks by William Wegman in the background and a photograph by Hellen van Meenr in the middle

PNY: What was the first artwork that made an impact on you?

CK: The Impressionist paintings in The Met – my mother took me as a small child.

PNY: Tell us about a favorite work in your collection.

CK: In my personal collection it would be a vintage Diane Arbus photograph of a children’s’ Halloween party. In the Sidley Austin collection, it would be William Wegman’s mural (done in mosaic) that we commissioned.

A collection of Cath Kaplan’s prints in her New York Apartment – courtesy of Cathy Kaplan

PNY: How do you think the increasing interest in new technologies (such as NFTs and AI) will affect, or has already affected, the process of collecting?

CK: Obviously there are people who just want to collect the newest thing and NFTs and AI created art fit into that category. Looking from a greater perspective, the availability of digital tools will be of enormous help in organizing collections and tracking provenance of objects.

Cathy Kaplan’s dog and prints in her New York apartment – courtesy of Cathy Kaplan

PNY: What artists or exhibitors are you looking forward to seeing at PHOTOFAIRS New York?

CK: I am looking forward to seeing artists whose work I have not looked at before. The galleries are bringing work to the fair that is contemporary and in many cases pushing the boundaries of what a photograph is. And while I may gravitate to familiar and beloved artists, I like considering work that makes me rethink what a photograph is and look at photographs in new ways.

Read Cathy Kaplan’s interview in Cultured

Cathy Kaplan is retired after many years as a Partner at Sidley Austin LLP in the Global Finance Group, with a practice focused on a broad range of structured finance products and on art related matters. While at Sidley Kaplan served on the firm Executive Committee and as a Co-Head of the Global Finance Group. Kaplan continues to help curate the extensive art collection in Sidley’s New York Office.

Kaplan currently consults and represents collectors, artists, galleries and museums in art related transactions. She is Chair of the Board of Trustees for Aperture Foundation and Co-Chair of the Photography Committee for the Whitney Museum. She is also serves on the Governing Board of the Yale Art Gallery and chairs that board’s Nominating Committee.

Kaplan is an adjunct Professor at Columbia Law School and teaches seminars on law and finance and on law, finance and the art market. She chairs the Board of Visitors of Columbia Law School and serves on the Board of the Bronx Council on the Arts, plus a number of other non-profit boards.