What I Buy and Why: Design Collector and Fair Director Jill Bokor on the Danger of Buying a Chair That You Can’t Actually Sit in

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Jill Bokor has worn many hats over the past three decades. Having held positions in the publishing, nonprofit, and gallery worlds, she now leads the Salon Art + Design fair. The next edition of the event opens Thursday, November 10 at the Park Avenue Armory and runs through November 14. Like the fair she has led for the past 11 years, Bakor’s own collection fuses art and design from across periods.

Bokor began her publishing career at New York magazine, and later served as publisher of in the late 1980s and ’90s. She was also director of major gifts at City Harvest and director of development for the Citizens Committee for New York.

From 2004 to 2015, she co-owned a gallery in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, that mixed 20th-century blue-chip works on paper and contemporary regional art with contemporary jewelry. So she is an expert at presenting works from different collecting categories alongside one another. Ahead of the fair, we spoke with her about how she lives with art and design at home.

A Ceramic chair by Reinaldo Seguino (2018). Courtesy of Jill Bokor.

A 2018 ceramic chair by Reinaldo Sanguino. Courtesy of Jill Bokor.

What was your first purchase (and how much did you pay for it)?

An Arts and Crafts magazine stand by [American actor and furniture designer] Charles Rohlfs. I think it cost about $6,000

What was your most recent purchase?

A glass wall sculpture by Amber Cowan.

Which works or artists are you hoping to add to your collection this year?

I’d love to commission a bed from [Irish furniture maker] Joseph Walsh.

What is the most expensive work of art that you own?

A [John] Constable landscape inherited from my grandparents.

Group of outsider watercolors by Janice Kennedy (ca. 1990s). Courtesy of Jill Bokor.

Group of outsider watercolors by Janice Kennedy (ca. 1990s). Courtesy of Jill Bokor.

Where do you buy art most frequently?

I try to support the galleries who exhibit at Salon and most of my purchases come from them.

Painting by Ema Swansea (2015) above a bench by Serban Ionesco, (2021). Courtesy of Jill Bokor.

A 2015 painting by Ena Swansea above a 2021 bench by Serban Ionescu. Courtesy of Jill Bokor.

Is there a work you regret purchasing?

Not regret exactly, but I did buy a chair by Théophile Blandet that’s really a sculpture.  No one will ever sit in it and all of my other chairs (Gio Ponti, Paolo Buffa, Martin Szekely) are comfortable.

What work do you have hanging above your sofa? What about in your bathroom?

Above my sofa is a 19th century American textile. It’s made of silk cigar bands stitched together like a quilt. In my bathroom are two Wolf Kahn pastels.

A Functional Sculpture by Marcin Russak, (2019). Courtesy of Jill Bokor.

A Functional Sculpture by Marcin Russak, (2019). Courtesy of Jill Bokor.

What is the most impractical work of art you own?

The Blandet chair.

What work do you wish you had bought when you had the chance?

A small Dutch 18th century painting of a Haarlem winter scene.

If you could steal one work of art without getting caught, what would it be?

Any Edward Hopper I could get my hands on.

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