An early collage by Kooning, a painted bronze by Giacometti, one of Picasso’s first portraits of Marie-Thérèse Walter – these and other treasures from the late patron David Solinger’s collection could fetch $100 million at Sotheby’s this fall .
With 90 lots on offer across four sales in New York and Paris, it’s the latest treasure to hit the market in what promises to be another blockbuster season, led by the estimated $1 billion art of the estate of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen at Christies.
A dedicated auction of 23 lots will take place on November 14 in New York, followed by the day’s sale and two auctions in Paris.
Solinger, who died in 1996, acquired the majority of his post-war art in the 1950s and most of the works he purchased have remained in the collection until now, providing a rare insight into how a previous generation of collectors carried on their business.
A television and advertising lawyer, Solinger was a weekend painter and an avid gallery owner who corresponded with artists like Alexander Calder and dealers like Pierre Matisse, buying works directly from the studios of de Kooning and Giacometti. His clients included artists Louise Nevelson and Hans Hofmann.
“He immersed himself in the art of his time,” said Oliver Barker, chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, which helped secure the collection after Solinger’s second wife died earlier this year. “It’s a time capsule of that collectible moment when the center of the art world moved from Paris to New York.”
The best batch is from Kooning Bonding (1950), estimated between $18 and $25 million. Its vibrant, richly textured surface is made up of layers of paper, paint, charcoal, and silver thumbtacks. Bonding has been featured in several major exhibitions, from the MoMA Historical Traveling Survey in 1968-69 to the ‘Abstract Expressionism’ exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 2016-17.
Solinger saw Giacometti for the first time Three Walking Men (Large Tray) at the artist’s studio in Paris. He commissioned the artist to paint the three figures in different shades of gold and then purchased it through Galerie Maeght in Paris. It is estimated between 15 and 20 million dollars.
by Picasso Woman in an armchair was painted in 1927, just three weeks after the Spaniard met 17-year-old Walter. In this painting of two women, Picasso connects curved lines symbolizing his newfound love with sharp, angular shapes representing Picasso’s wife, Olga. The work is estimated between 15 and 20 million dollars. During World War II, the painting was sent to MoMA for safekeeping, according to Sotheby’s. After the war, he was repatriated to France. Solinger bought it from Picasso’s dealer, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler.
Solinger served as the first non-family president of the Whitney Museum of American Art, making the museum public and directing fundraising for its Marcel Breuer building.
Alfred Barr, founding director of MoMA, asked Solinger to purchase the museum’s first Franz Kline, a 1950 painting, Chief. He agreed, and the artist then made an oil sketch of the painting on a phone book page for Solinger. This sketch is now part of the collection directed to Sotheby’s.
Solinger’s hoard includes many examples of post-war European painting, including examples by Jean Dubuffet and Nicolas de Staël.
Painting by Joan Miro Woman, stars (1945) is estimated between 15 and 20 million dollars. Summary of De Stael 1951 Composition is estimated between 1.5 and 2 million dollars.
“It’s a picture I bought in 15 seconds,” Solinger once told an interviewer. “I had never heard of Staël. I had never seen one of his photos. It was love at first sight. He paid him $800.
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