Observed with the Hands

Works from the Collection of David May

Miguel Berrocal and Cristina de Braganza, 1997

Collector David May acquired his first work by the Spanish sculptor, Miguel Berrocal somewhat by chance. While attending a charity event in the 1970s, a gallerist who was familiar with his family’s interest in art pulled a tiny puzzle from her purse and asked him if he wanted to buy it. The puzzle—a miniature head with a tangle of silver hair—was Berrocal’s Portrait de Michelle, and from that moment on, May was hooked. When he learned of the French gallery Artcurial, which specialized in multiples and offered an array of Berrocal editions for sale, May purchased almost every example that they had available. Still, there were other works from the artist’s oeuvre that he desired. An internet search revealed items available from a seller near Verona and upon further research, he confirmed that it was in fact the home of Berrocal and his wife, Cristina de Braganza. In the spring of 1996, May and his wife took an overnight train from Paris to Verona and the following morning, a taxi brought them to Berrocal’s palazzo, Villa Rizzardi in Negrar. Cristina had arranged for him to purchase a number of important pieces, and Miguel prepared lunch—a fish risotto—that May recalls was the best he’d ever had. After their initial visit, May kept in touch with Cristina via fax and when a bike trip took him back to northern Italy in 2004, he called on her once more, purchasing two additional works: Desperto Ferro II and Algiadas. By that time, Miguel had moved to back to his homeland of Andalucía where he was establishing a museum and shortly thereafter Cristina would sell the palazzo and follow him to Spain. In 2006, Miguel died unexpectedly and May lost touch with Cristina. Since then, he has enjoyed his collection the way that Berrocal intended—assembled, disassembled, and in the artist’s words, “observed with the hands”.

Empty space is as alive as full space. Look at it!

Miguel Berrocal