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Inside the Minimalist Art Collection of Pulse Music’s Josh Abraham


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The new exhibition Artists Inspired by Music: Interscope Reimagined — which has its final weekend at LACMA Feb. 11 to 13 — is a colorful, loud collection of original works by artists such as Lauren Halsey, Damien Hirst and Cecily Brown interpreting the music and image of such Interscope artists as Kendrick Lamar, Eminem and Billie Eilish. (The latter, along with Olivia Rodrigo and Machine Gun Kelly, attended the opening of the show on Jan. 26.)

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This painting in the Interscope show at LACMA, by Swiss-born artist Nicolas Party, was inspired by Lady Gaga, who has been on the label since 2007. “I thought the result was beautiful,” says Abraham.

Courtesy of Karma, New York

One of the creators of the LACMA show, music executive Josh Abraham — who helped come up with pairings for the exhibit and made outreach to artists to participate — has a much different aesthetic, though, when it comes to the art in his home in Beverly Hills. (Abraham worked on the LACMA exhibit with three fellow organizers: Jimmy Iovine, co-founder of Interscope Records; label chairman John Janick; and vice chairman Steve Berman.)

“I like minimalist art,” says Abraham, the co-CEO of Pulse Music Group publishing company, whose roster of songwriters (which includes Starrah, Ty Dolla and James Blake) has contributed to hits by such stars as Drake, Travis Scott and Lady Gaga.

Abraham — who grew up “watching the pioneering of hip-hop and the graffiti culture,” he says — bought his first artwork in 2001, a piece by Yoshitomo Nara, after he discovered a book on the Japanese artist (who was also the subject of a recent exhibit at LACMA). Since then, Abraham says he’s gone through “different phases” as a collector while gravitating more and more toward minimalism. “I don’t like a lot of noise,” adds Abraham,who works with many galleries directly and often collaborates with art consultants such a Karyn Lovegrove.

At his home in Beverly Hills, he pairs works by such artists as Ed Ruscha, Jonas Wood, Richard Serra, John Baldessari, Raymond Pettibon, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jannis Kounellis and Josef Albers with his collection of modernist furniture by architects and designers including Pierre Jeanneret, Isamu Noguchi and Charlotte Perriand. Among his works by Ruscha is one of the artist’s City Lights paintings “that says the word ‘pulse,’ which is [also the name of] my company.”

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From left: Josh Abraham; John Janick, Interscope Records Chairman and CEO; Machine Gun Kelly; and Jimmy Iovine, Interscope Records co-founder, at the opening of Artists Inspired by Music: Interscope Reimagined at LACMA.

Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

“Simplicity to me is the hardest thing to create. Like in music, ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ is impossible to write. Someone wrote it and every kid in school sings it, but it’s a simple, beautiful song,” says Abraham, adding that, when it comes to minimalist artworks, “You can just fall into an Albers [painting] — it’s just how colors play off each other. You can get lost in each square. It really hits hard for me.”

In February, Abraham recommends art lovers check out the many gallery shows happening this month, including the new Jonas Wood exhibition, Plants and Animals, at David Kordansky Gallery, and the upcoming Sayre Gomez show at Ghebaly Gallery, opening Feb. 19. He’s also planning to attend the Frieze Los Angeles art fair in Beverly Hills.

Scroll on for images of three additional artworks that are part of Abraham’s collection.

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Abraham’s collection includes Ed Ruscha’s painting Downtown. “I used to be an investor in a company called Downtown Records,” says Abraham of one reason the piece is meaningful to him.

Ed Ruscha/Courtesy of Gagosian

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Josef Albers, “Study for Homage to the Square,” 1966.

Josh Abraham Collection

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Jannis Kounellis’ “Untitled,” 1969. Courtesy of MASSIMODECARLO.


Update 2/11: Added full list of LACMA exhibit organizers.

A version of this story first appeared in the Feb. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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