Curating a personal art collection is never without its ups and downs, even if you’re Beyoncé’s mom. In an interview with Kimberly Drew, the social media manager at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tina Knowles Lawson gave a tour of her extensive collection of black art and discussed her road to becoming a collector.
The collection includes work by artists such as Genevieve Gaignard, Hale Woodruff, Charles Aston, Elizabeth Catlett, Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, and Henry Ossawa Tanner. She tells Drew that she loves collecting and knowing the history of the artist and that she sees her relationship to art as more spiritual than material.
Her friendship with certain artists, like Monica Stewart, accounts for some of her collection, but Lawson has begun purchasing pieces at auction as well. In recounting her first attempt at bidding over the phone Lawson said, “Next thing I know I bought a Sam Gilliam, I bought two Picasso lithographs. I was like, ‘What did I do?’ I tried not to buy them, but they found me and they threatened to sue me.”
Lawson credits seeing a performance by the Alvin Ailey dance company when she was a teenager with sparking her interest in black art and inspiring her to leave the Texas town where she was raised. When she was raising her daughters, Lawson prioritized exposing the future Grammy-award winners to art that depicted African Americans. “I’m so happy that I did, because both of them are really aware of their culture, and I think a lot of that had to do with looking at those images every day, those strong images.”
It’s an influence that clearly made an impression. In addition to being an acclaimed singer-songwriter, Lawson’s younger daughter, Solange Knowles Ferguson, is also a performance artist and has presented work at the Tate Modern, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Hammer Museum.
Lawson bought her first piece of art at just 19 when she was working as a makeup artist in Los Angeles. “It was probably a reproduction, but it was so beautiful and it was in a frame,” Lawson said of the $500 abstract painting she found in a furniture store. “I discovered then how important [art] is for your home. It made me feel good every day.”