Butler Institute Unveils Industrialist’s Art Collection

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Paintings and sculpture by some of the world’s greatest artists went on public display for the first time in an exhibition that opened April 3 at The Butler Institute of American Art.

The late industrialist David M. Draime and his wife, Cecile, amassed the remarkable collection, selecting each piece for its beauty and how it moved them. The 50-piece exhibition, titled “Selections from the Private Collection of David M. and Cecile Draime,” will run through Aug. 7.

The Warren-area couple had displayed the art in their home, surrounding themselves with works by Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, Manolo Valdes, Henri Matisse, Edvard Munch, Pierre Soulages, Chen Chi and other masters.

The Draimes were generous benefactors of The Butler and Louis A. Zona, director and curator of the museum, marveled at their collection during his many visits to their home. The couple collected art with love and intelligence, Zona said, and were motivated only by their appreciation of each piece.

“They bought art for romantic, emotional reasons,” Zona said. “It was never their intent to attempt to collect with a certain type of art in mind – ‘I’m only going to collect Expressionism’ or ‘I’m only going to collect American.’

“Their collection is wide-ranging,” he continued. “It is just pieces that they loved.”

In his introductory essay for this exhibition, Zona wrote, “[The Draimes] loved to be around art that they found engaging, thought provoking, and personally appealing. If one needed to describe their personal taste, the term ‘classically beautiful’ could certainly summarize much of the art that they loved and indeed, lived with.”

Max Draime died in 2006. When Jeff Draime, their son, offered The Butler the opportunity to put pieces of the collection on display, Zona jumped at the opportunity.

“He knew how much we love this collection,” Zona said.

Max Draime was the founder of Stoneridge Inc., an industrial company that makes automotive parts at its plants across the globe. In their travels to Europe and elsewhere to visit those plants, the Draimes would visit art galleries.

“Most of what he bought are European masterworks,” Zona said. “That wasn’t his sole purpose in collecting. It just happened. Their collecting was very informal.”

Asked to pick his favorites from the exhibit, Zona hesitated but then settled on the three Soulages paintings and the Chagall, as well as a massive cloth piece by Valdes.

“Valdes was Max’s favorite artist,” he said.

Zona also mentioned the Chen Chi: a stunning 36.5” by 62” watercolor of a New York cityscape titled, “5th at 57th Street.” The Draimes displayed it in their dining room, he said.

But the work that best symbolizes the personality of the Draime collection, according to Zona, is a full-size sculpture by Henry Moore that the couple had “lovingly placed” in their own garden. “The Draimes searched for this sculptural masterpiece for years before acquiring it as the anchor of their far-reaching collection,” Zona wrote in his essay.

Pictured: Portrait of David and Cecile Draime by Mark Hess; Marc Chagall’s “Les Fiances a L’Ange Rouge” from 1935; Pablo Picasso’s “Tete d’homme” from 1965.