© Grace Roselli, Alice Sachs Zimet – courtesy of Alice Sachs Zimet

Debuting this September, PHOTOFAIRS New York will connect collectors and visitors with galleries from around the world to discover and engage with the rapidly evolving digital art and photography landscapes. PHOTOFAIRS IN FOCUS is a new interview series featuring members of PHOTOFAIRS New York’s inaugural Advisory Committee. First to step into the spotlight is President of Arts + Business Partners Alice Sachs Zimet. Also a collector, advisor and educator, Alice began collecting in 1985 and has amassed a superb, museum-quality collection of over 300 images. 

© Eric Laignel, Zimet Residence NYC 2021, courtesy of Alice Sachs Zimet

PHOTOFAIRS NEW YORK: How did you start collecting?

ALICE SACHS ZIMET: My lifelong passion for the arts began with my parents who were print collectors. They collected images by Édouard Vuillard, Pierre Bonnard, Maurice de Vlaminck, Georges Rouault and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, among others. My world was always steeped in the arts – professionally and academically. I hold two degrees in art history and my early professional career began at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. However my life changed when, for the next 20 years, I worked at The Chase Manhattan Bank where I created a new sponsorship department and became Director of Worldwide Cultural Affairs. I was given a small year-end bonus, which soon became my collecting budget. Whether it was for one photograph or the purchase of several, that was my acquisition budget for the year. I have made a conscious effort to buy from all sources — galleries, auctions, benefit auctions, art fairs and even trades.  

I’ve now been collecting photography for nearly 40 years and I have developed deep personal relationships with professionals involved in every aspect of the field. My collection has grown to include 141 different photographers with over 330 museum-quality images, where I live surrounded by the vast majority. 

© Eric Laignel, Zimet Residence NYC 2021, courtesy of Alice Sachs Zimet

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

ASZ: It was December 1984 and I was on an International Center of Photography field trip with Sam Wagstaff, the collector, curator, and partner to Robert Mapplethorpe, to see a portion of Sam’s collection at the Parrish Art Museum on eastern Long Island. The exhibition was dedicated to images of flowers, and I fell in love with one image by Andrew Bush titled Columbines. But I felt that it needed a companion piece, so I bought another…Looking back, that was the beginning of a collection and I still buy in twos and threes!

© Eric Laignel, Zimet Residence NYC 2021, courtesy of Alice Sachs Zimet

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

ASZ: With over 300 different photographs, there is no way to select a favorite work! However, I have some favorite themes. I began by collecting images tied to my love of France where my grandfather lived for 50 years, and where I spent time as a student in Paris. I have images by Andre Kertesz, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Marc Riboud and Jacques-Henri Lartique, to name a few. The second theme represents artist portraits and references to art history, which was natural given my degrees in art history and early career at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There are about 40 images within this theme, from Bill Brandt’s shot of Cezanne’s studio (1951) to portraits of Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, David Hockney, Alberto Giacometti, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Henri Matisse, along with Martha Graham, Rudolph Nureyev and Mohammed Ali. There are also portraits and self-portraits of photographers – Robert Frank, Robert Capa, Cindy Sherman, Elliott Erwitt and Zanele Muholi. The third theme is  humanistic portraits of people living their lives, often addressing key social issues: identity, racism, loneliness, the challenges of adolescence, family relations, as well as the joy of living life to its fullest, whether as a young child or as an adult. Photographers in this category include Zanele Muholi, Sally Mann, Nan Goldin, Lisette Model, William Klein, Rosalind Solomon, Arthur Liepzig, and Jerome Liebling – to name a few.


© Delphine Diallo, The spiritual warrior, 2022, courtesy of Fisheye Gallery, Paris

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

ASZ: As always, I look forward to seeing the constellation of artwork presented by a constellation of galleries from around the world. I’m always interested in what I can’t see here in NYC and am particularly excited to see work brought by two French galleries: Delphine Diallo (Fisheye Gallery) and Paolo Ventura (Gallery XII).

Paolo Ventura Le Passe-Muraille 02, 2023 © courtesy of Galerie XII, Santa Monica / Paris

Alice Sachs Zimet is President, Arts + Business Partners (ABP), a consulting boutique specializing in the fine art photography marketplace. ABP offers a variety of virtual workshops and webinar options geared towards collectors, photographers and anyone interested in learning more about the fine art photography marketplace.

As a collector, advisor, and educator, Alice began to collect fine art photography in 1985 and has amassed a museum-quality collection of over 300 images from 20th Century masters to the present. Alice is Chair, Photography Curatorial Committee, Harvard Art Museums; Chair, Collections Committee, International Center of Photography (ICP); board member, Magnum Foundation; Advisory Board Member: Center of Photography at Woodstock (CPW) and American Photography Archives Group (APAG); and on Faculty at Christie’s Education, the ICP School and Maine Media College + Workshops, where she teaches workshops on how to collect photography and how photographers can better access the marketplace.

Zimet pioneered the field of corporate sponsorship as Director, Worldwide Cultural Affairs, The Chase Manhattan Bank (20 years). Here, she used the arts as a strategic marketing tool across 14 countries and 20 US cities to generate $2 Billion in new business for the bank. She is Adjunct Professor, New York University’s Graduate Program, Arts Administration teaching Corporate Sponsorship and the Arts. Alice holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s in Art History, began her career at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and continues to live, work and collect in New York City.