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UD benefactor Paul Jones named Top 100 Collector

9:40 a.m., March 28, 2003--Atlanta art collector Paul R. Jones, who donated more than 1,500 works by African-American artists to the University of Delaware in February 2001, has been named one of the Top 100 Collectors in America by the magazine Art & Antiques.

Paul Jones at his Atlanta home amidst a small selection of artworks in the collection.

According to Art & Antiques, the nation’s leading collectors were selected based on the quality of the collections and the extent to which the collectors have shared them with the public at large. The list is featured in the magazine’s March 2003 issue.

“The focus was on collectors with a discriminating eye for quality and historical importance,” according to the magazine, which added that only collections that had been validated by respected authorities were included.

A second criterion was “the extent to which the collectors’ philanthropic pursuits reflect their collecting passion.”

The magazine noted that, “Just as there are stages in any profession, true collectors progress in their interest and commitment to the field in which they collect. At a certain point, inveterate collectors begin to see themselves not just as connoisseurs, but also as stewards of the possessions. Many then begin to develop a desire to share their expertise and love of great works of art with a wider public.”

That description is a perfect fit for Jones, who began collecting works by African-American artists nearly 40 years ago and was a pioneer in the field. In taking a leadership role, he befriended many prominent painters, sculptors and photographers and at times provided support for struggling up-and-coming artists.

Jones donated his collection [www.udel.edu/PaulRJonesCollection/] to the University of Delaware to preserve the works and to provide a means by which to make them accessible to as wide a public as possible.

Also, Jones considers his a “teaching collection” that can demonstrate the power of African-American art, which he hopes someday will take its rightful place in the mainstream of the wider field of American art.

“It was a pleasant surprise to be included among the Top 100 Collectors in America,” Jones said, noting that “our efforts to acquire and preserve works by African-American artists, and to share them with the public, have not gone unnoticed.”

“It also authenticates the steps the University of Delaware has made in embracing the collection and weaving it into its teaching,” he said.

Article by Neil Thomas
Photo by Jack Buxbuam