About the Collection

Richard and Ellen Sandor have been collecting photography and outsider art for 30 years, and have amassed one of the premier private art collections in America, with over 2,000 works spanning the period from the1840s to the present. The Sandors were active collectors when photography collecting was still in its infancy.   In 1988, 2001 and 2002 the Sandors were listed by the Editors of Art & Antiques as one of  "America's Top 100 Private Collectors” and have been recently interviewed in B&W, Metropolitan Home and Chicago Tribune Magazine.

I was showing my work in New York in the 1980s, and got Richard involved with the post-modernists. As far as the market is concerned, the value of the post-modernists is greater, but I still think it’s the historical images that are most important.

-Ellen Sandor

The Richard and Ellen Sandor Family Collection contains definitive examples of photography that are complemented by paintings, drawings, sculpture and new media works that drive the major themes in the collection, such as 19th and 20th Century Icons, Paris Between the Wars, the American West, Hollywood Portraits, and Surrealism.  Unique pairings are featured throughout the collection that relate to a wide range of media: William Edmonson's funerary Eagle sculpture is shown with Edward Weston’s photographs of the sculptor, while Auguste Rodin's Balzac sculpture is shown with Edward Steichen’s photogravures and Man Ray's portrait of Francis Picabia posing as the Balzac.  Julia Margaret Cameron, Alfred Stieglitz, James VanDerZee, Cindy Sherman, and Kara Walker are among many prominent artists represented.  Recent acquisitions include sculptures by Manish Nai, George Carlson and Felipe Castañeda, contemporary portraits by Andrea Tese, new media installations by John Gerrard, Claudia Hart, Gregory Scott, and PHSColograms by (art)n. Artworks from the Sandor’s collection have been included in numerous exhibitions.  The Sandors have generously donated artworks to museums and are Major Benefactors of The Art Institute of Chicago.


All of us who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s recognize that film and photography is our medium. Contemporary life incorporates film, photography, Virtual Reality – many things that are generationally different. In photography, art and technology are inseparable. We went from salt albumen prints, silver, platinum, then to a variety of color processes that began in the 1930s, and now to digital. Photography is the mixture of technology and artistic vision. We find that very exciting.

-Richard Sandor

Richard Sandor is Chairman and CEO of the Chicago Climate Exchange, Research Professor at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and was named “Hero of the Planet” by Time magazine. He is a member of the Board of Governors of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Board of Directors of the International Center of Photography.  Ellen Sandor is an internationally recognized multimedia artist and director of (art)n,  with works in the permanent collection of the International Center of Photography, Santa Barbara Museum of Art and The Smithsonian Institution. Ellen is an affiliate of eDream, National Center for Supercomputer Applications, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is on the Board of Directors for OXBOW, the Board of Governors for The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and chair of the Gene Siskel Film Center Advisory Board at SAIC. She is a Life Trustee of The Art Institute of Chicago. She will receive an honory doctorate from SAIC to recognize her acheivements and commitments in the arts.

Selected pieces from The Richard and Ellen Sandor Family Collection have been exhibited at The Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles 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, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Tate Modern and others.


Recent Press

Margaret Bourke-White: A Life Less Ordinary, Smithsonian.com, March 2007 [images from The Sandor Family Collection]

Robert Frank: A Collector's Personal View by Richard Sandor, Summer 2006

Keepers of the Frame: The Sandors are regarded as "Futurists" in the Winter '06 issue of MET Home

INTERIORS, The Photo Issue, Chicago Tribune Magazine, November 13, 2005

Collector Closeup: Richard and Ellen Sandor, Black and White Magazine for Collectors of Fine Photography, June 2005 issue

Museum News: Catalogue Features Museum Masterworks, Winter 2005, Ellen and Richard L. Sandor Gallery, Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, University of Oklahoma

Museum and Not-For-Profit Row, The Photograph Collector, August 1 2001, Volume XXII Nos. 7 & 8

Recent Gifts, Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, The University of Oklahoma, Summer 2001

ICP Receives Major Donation from Sandor Family Collection

Richard and Ellen Sandor quoted in "Inspired by Art Chicago? Collectors can guide you" by Alan G. Artner, Chicago Tribune, May 11, 2001

Richard Sandor quoted in "Crime Pays!" By Barbara Pollack, Forbes.com, August 21, 2000