"It all started when I was a graduate student at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago," says Ellen Sandor. "I knew I would be working on expanding the future of photography so I suggested to my husband that he concentrate on the best of photography's past."

"America's Top 100 Private Collectors" by the Editors, Art & Antiques, March 1988 & March 2001


about the collection

Richard and Ellen Sandor have been collectors of photography and outsider art for more than 20 years. The Sandor Family Collection contains over 1,800 objects spanning the period from the 1840s to the present, including definitive examples of digital art that are complemented by paintings and sculpture that drive the major themes in the collection. It is one of the premier private collections in America, and the Sandors have been listed by the Editors of Art & Antiques as one of "America's Top 100 Private Collectors".

All photographs and objects in the collection are in one form or another related to a theme that spans the collection - 19th and 20th Century icons of photography, Paris between the Wars, the American West, Hollywood, Surrealism and numerous others. The collection contains unique pairings of photographs that are related to other media in the collection such as paintings, drawings and sculpture: Edmonson's funerary sculpture is shown with photographs of the sculptor by Edward Weston; Rodin's Balzac sculpture is shown with photogravures by Edward Steichen along with Man Ray's unique portrait of Picabia posing as the Balzac. Other highlights include rare images by Julia Margaret-Cameron, Alfred Steiglitz, James VanDerZee, Cindy Sherman, Kara Walker, and others.

The Sandors are Major Benefactors of The Art Institute of Chicago. Richard Sandor is a member of the Board of Governors of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and member of the Board of Directors of the International Center of Photography in New York. He is Chairman and CEO of Environmental Financial Products in Chicago.

Ellen Sandor is a pioneering artist in digital photography with works in the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, The Smithsonian Institution and others. She received an MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she studied sculpture, photography and outsider art. She is the founding artist and director of (art)n Laboratory.

Selected pieces from The Sandor Family Collection have been exhibited at The Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Terra Museum of American Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, LA County Museum of Art, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, National Portrait Gallery, Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Houston Museum of Fine Art, The Menil Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Royal Academy of Arts, George Pompidou Centre and others.