01 March 2019 | New York | full auction details
Sotheby’s is delighted that the March Contemporary Curated Sale will be preceded by a special all-women artist’s auction entitled By Women, For Tomorrow’s Women organized by Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut. Dr. Katherine G. Windsor, Head of School, writes of the purpose of the auction stating: “By Women, For Tomorrow’s Women is an example of Miss Porter’s School living its mission statement. By bringing together prominent women in the arts and partnering with Sotheby’s to market and sell a lot comprised exclusively of women artists, we are setting an example for others to follow as we seek to remedy the inequities women experience in the art world. We are leveraging our ‘all-girls’ network on behalf of the young women at Miss Porter’s today and the generations to follow, and we are saying in our words and our deeds that we can do better and we will do better!” By Women, For Tomorrow’s Women, directly preceding the Contemporary Curated sale, will begin at 9:30am on March 1st and is headlined by a 1966-67 Carmen Herrera painting,Blanco y Verde, donated by Agnes Gund to beneﬁt Miss Porter’s School. Agnes Gund graduated from Miss Porter’s in 1956 and due to her involvement with her alma mater she will be the honorary Co-Chair of the By Women, For Tomorrow’s Women auction along with Oprah Winfrey, who ﬁrst became involved with Miss Porter’s School after sending her niece there in the 1990s. Oprah has continued her involvement with Miss Porter’s and subsequently provided tuition for many other girls to attend the school. Sotheby’s is honored that both Gund, one of the most important patrons of the arts in America, and Winfrey, champion of women and girls and pioneering philanthropist, have agreed to participate as this season’s Curators. In collaborating with Miss Porter’s School on By Women, For Tomorrow’s Women, Contemporary Curated hopes to further underscore the important role women artists play in both the art historical canon as well as at the forefront of Contemporary Art.
Possessing a singular visual clarity, restrained elegance, and a robust compositional tension, Blanco y Verde from 1966-67 is a paragon of Carmen Herrera’s reductionist artistic ethos. A concise arrangement of shapes, encompassing three green triangles in a white field, the present work’s economy of form and minimalist quietude belies irrepressible visual energy and dynamism, borne from Herrera’s expert use of color, line, perspective, and shape. Capturing the artist’s fundamental and long-unacknowledged contributions to the development of minimalist abstraction, Blanco y Verde is the most important painting, both for its highly resolved composition and conceptual clarity, by the artist to appear at auction. Underscoring Herrera’s role as a true innovator and pioneer in art history, the present work endures as a testament to the great intellectual, emotional, and aesthetic pleasure to be had in the simplest of forms.Born in 1915 in Havana, Cuba, Carmen Herrera’s burgeoning creative talent and love of art were fostered through private lessons from a local artist, and time spent exploring the hallowed museums of Paris while attending finishing school there. After graduating and returning home, Herrera became ensconced in a country in a state of flux; though the artist was able to join progressive artistic circles such as the women-led creative community of the Lyceum, and enroll at the Universidad de La Habana to study architecture, Herrera ultimately had to leave the country as the frequent unrest that dominated Cuban politics in the 1930s interrupted the rhythm of daily life. Herrera settled in New York with her husband, a public school teacher and began classes at the Art Students League. Herrera’s early experiences, both in Paris and at the Universidad de La Habana, would prove to be highly formative in the artist’s later mature style, exemplified by the present work and the series of Blanco y Verde as a whole.Feeling unsatisfied and stymied in New York, Herrera would return to Paris with her husband, becoming immersed in the city’s artistic milieu and coming into contact with the avant-garde abstraction of the Réalités Nouvelles. At the same time, the artist’s architectural training manifested in an increasingly schematic visual style. Upon her return to New York, Herrera found herself exiled from the mainstream artistic discourse, her linear and diagrammatic formal style falling outside the hegemonic borders of Abstract Expressionism, precluding her from selling art, having frequent shows, or finding gallery representation. Compounded by her status as a Cuban woman in a xenophobic and male-dominated art world Herrera would find herself on the fringes of the artistic conversation, despite her pioneering and revelatory artistic vision, well into her 90s. It is in this time of creative isolation that Herrera came into her mature style, and developed the foundational series to which the present work belongs.Unified by their spare, unadorned green triangular forms and expanses of white acrylic, the paintings in the Blanco y Verde series use the basic compositional tool of color contrast to conjure myriad representational associations. Carmen Herrera’s oeuvre is defined by this economy of means and proclivity for strict linearity, an artistic signature codified in the series to which the present work belongs. Describing the series, the artist explained, “look, to me it was a white, a beautiful white, and then the white was shrieking for green, and the little triangle created a force field” (the artist in Deborah Sontag, “At 91, She’s the Hot New Thing in Painting,” New York Times, 19 December 2000). Herrera’s 15 Blanco y Verde paintings span a decade of artistic production but are bound together by this “force field,” an intoxicating energy forged by the artist’s unique methodology of engaging proportion by creating spatial and chromatic harmonies. Bearing witness to the solidification of this integral tenet of the artist’s pictorial vocabulary, the present work is the embodiment of the developments of this series.In Blanco y Verde, Herrera establishes multiple paradigms for how to experience her work using the most minimal of formal inputs. If the white acrylic in the present work is thought of as negative space, the green triangles which travel diagonally across the picture plane are frozen in a delicate equilibrium; the tips of each vertical triangle graze the edges of the horizontal triangle, achieving a structural stasis, taking on the silhouette of a precarious structure suspended in a void. Conversely, if the green of the composition is thought of as negative space, the two expansive planes of white acrylic undermine this precariousness, crafting the opposite notion. Similar but not identical, these L-shaped wedges of white paint refuse to resolve or fit together, their slightly variegated shapes precluding them from embracing snugly. What is left are the triangular slivers of green, emerging prominently through, rather than despite, their contrast with the white planes.While much of the visual power of Blanco y Verde lies in the binary interaction between green and white, the work is also inherently planar, using three-dimensional illusionism to form intricate spatial relationships. Before Herrera paints her works, she executes scrupulous preparatory drawings and calculations which find a basis in her early architectural education, making the paintings in the Blanco y Verde series, particularly the present work, are inherently sculptural. Closely related to the artist’s wooden Estructuras, or Structures, that she displayed alongside her paintings in her landmark 1984 show at the Alternative Museum, the present work is an example of “paintings that were ‘really crying out to become sculpture’” (Dana Miller, Carmen Herrera: Sometimes I Win, in Carmen Herrera: Lines of Sight, New Haven, 2016, p. 30). The white and green of Blanco y Verde thus can be seen as an object built from segments that are tilting forward and backward on an axis, their irregular shapes a product of perspectival foreshortening. Composed of a highly limited range of elements, the present work exemplifies how Herrera’s genius lies in her ability to conceive maximal physical and conceptual associations from very few carefully selected inputs.Long excluded from the artistic discourse surrounding minimalist abstraction and its proponents, Herrera was a true pioneer in the form. At the same moment that Frank Stella and Ellsworth Kelly were executing artworks that would emblazon their names in the pantheon of art history, Herrera was pulling from her formal training and in the words of the artist, “a compulsion that also gives me pleasure” (the artist in Deborah Sontag, “At 91, She’s the Hot New Thing in Painting,” New York Times, 19 December, 2000) to establish a inimitable voice in the idiom. Now the artist’s works are in the most reputable and prestigious institutions in the world, including the permanent collections of Tate, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, signaling a long-delayed but much deserved institutional support for the artist. Acquired by renowned arts patron Agnes Gund in 2006, who first experienced the artist’s work at El Museo del Barrio, the present work is a highlight from Herrera’s long and prodigious career. Exemplifying Herrera’s groundbreaking artistic achievement, Blanco y Verde is a treatise in form, proportion and color that underscores the primacy of artistic vision over all odds.
Born in 1955, Mariana Cook is an American photographer celebrated for her black and white portraits of today’s most well-known and admired artists, writers and public figures. Through her work she captures the “essence” of an individual, while exploring the core relationships that comprise all forms of human connection. Cook spent her early career documenting the intimate bonds of family through a series of projects: Fathers and Daughters; Mothers and Sons; Couples, featuring a portrait of Barack and Michelle Obama in 1996; and Generations of Women. Cook photographed American politician and civil rights leader, John Lewis, for her Justice series and biologist Edward O. Wilson for her Scientists series, along with other prominent leaders and thinkers.In the early 2000s, Cook diverged from her portrait work with a new project, Stone Walls, during which she examined the crucial interactions between humans and the land they inhabit. For this project, Cook embarked on an eight year journey around the world, documenting stone walls and landscapes found in the United States, England, Ireland, Peru, Malta, and more. Cook’s work is in public and private collections around the world, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Bibliothèque nationale de France; Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris; and National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC. Eleven critically-acclaimed books of her work have been published, including best-selling Fathers and Daughters, Stone Walls: Personal Boundaries, and most recent, Lifeline. Through a single image, Cook successfully conveys the vast yet universal aspects of the human condition. She reminds us of not only the emotional vulnerability involved in relationships, but, more importantly, the power of unity that makes life alongside others worth experiencing.
American contemporary artist, Jane Hammond, works in a variety of mediums: collage, print, paint, photography and sculpture. She transforms everything she touches into something beautiful and unique. Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1950, her art is greatly influenced by her childhood, during which she traveled frequently with family and learned about the world from her grandmother, who was also an artist and a major creative inspiration. She studied biology and poetry at Mount Holyoke College (B.A., 1972), ceramics at Arizona State University (M.F.A., 1973-74), and sculpture at University of Wisconsin, Madison (M.F.A., 1977). After graduating she moved to New York City and has lived and worked there ever since, commuting to Baltimore to teach at the Maryland Institute College of Art.As a young artist in New York, she created an encyclopedia of images from books, manuals, and other materials, which she used for decades to create her collages. Many of these works were based on titles of poems by John Ashbery, with whom she collaborated. Another major influence is the avant-garde composer John Cage, whose unpredictable and lively music aligns with the physical features of Hammond’s pieces. In the early years of this century, she began drawing inspiration from her dreams, imagination and life experiences to expand her work and create collaged photographs, “dazzle paintings” that ingeniously combine paint, photography and optical devices, and Butterfly Maps. One of her most renowned works is Fallen, a monumental display of inscribed leaves, each representing a fallen American soldier in the Iraq War.Hammond has received numerous awards, including The Anonymous was a Women Award and The Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant Award. Throughout her career she has displayed her artwork in over 80 solo and 350 group exhibitions, and pieces can be found in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Walker Art Center; Whitney Museum of American Art; The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; and Albertina, Austria.
Ghada Amer, an American artist born in Egypt, is best known for her erotic representation of women and female identity. She is concerned with the non-presence of women in the Western history of art and has chosen to address it through the medium of embroidery. She began her career 10 years after moving to France with her parents in 1974. Amer’s art rejects oppressive social norms and laws that would confine and objectify women. Nevertheless, she confronts contemporary patriarchal expressions with love and tenderness. As a multimedia artist, Amer uses her control over materials to critique the submission of women, as well as to celebrate female sexuality. In addition, her art affirms the foolishness of war and violence, claiming territory in a field dominated by men, while carving a place in history for both herself and for other women artists.Ghada Amer received her formal training at The Villa Arson in Nice, France, and relocated to the United States in 1995. Her work has been exhibited at the Venice Biennale, Sydney Biennale, Whitney Biennial, and Brooklyn Museum. In 1997 she was the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant and was a winner of the 1999 UNESCO prize at the Venice Biennale. Other notable accomplishments include being the first Arab artist to have a solo exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2000). Amer’s works are found in the collections of The Art Institute of Chicago, The Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Detroit Institute of Arts and Centre Pompidou in Paris, among others.Ghada Amer currently lives and works in New York and Paris.
Jenny Holzer is a pioneering conceptual artist. For more than four decades, she has presented her social and political views in varied text exhibited in public places and international exhibitions, including 7 World Trade Center, Guggenheim Museums in New York and Bilbao, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 1990, she became the first woman to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale and to receive the prestigious Leone d’Oro.Born in Gallipolis, Ohio in 1950, Holzer studied at Duke University, University of Chicago, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and Ohio University; she holds honorary degrees from Williams College, RISD, The New School, and Smith College. Her visual vocabulary has always been words, whether on t-shirts, benches, condoms or LED projections. With humor, kindness and courage, Holzer uses her art to challenge ignorance and violence.
Chantal Joffe was born in 1969 in St. Albans and later moved to London, England, where she currently lives and works. She completed her BFA with honors at The Glasgow School of Art and earned her MFA at the Royal College of Art in London.Her works often depict larger than life-size portraits of women and children, painted wet-on-wet with bold, saturated colors and thick, visible brushstrokes in order to convey freshness and immediacy. She draws inspiration from various types of source materials - mainly magazines, fashion spreads, and photography – and various artists, including photographer Diane Arbus, German painter Paula Modersohn-Becker and poet Emily Dickinson. Joffe strives to display both the vulnerability and the strength of her female sitters through their powerful gazes and distorted bodies. Directness and honesty are hallmarks of her work, remarkably in her self-portraiture in which she exposes herself physically and psychologically to her audience. Her representations of motherhood and femininity, laced with abstraction and ambiguity, have at times met controversial reception.From 2003, Joffe has exhibited her work in solo and group exhibitions around the world, including the United States, Italy, South Korea, Morocco, and Sweden; in 2006, she was awarded the Royal Academy of London’s Charles Wollaston Award for “the most distinguished work” in the Summer Exhibition.
Vera Lutter was born in 1960 in Kaiserslautern, Germany where she received her degree in sculpture from the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich in 1991. Thereafter she moved to New York where she was inspired by the architecture and light of the city. Thus, she began to experiment with the medium of pinhole photography. She transformed an entire room of her New York City apartment into a camera obscura by blacking out all her windows except for a tiny pinhole, allowing the darkness to reveal the outside view, upside down and reversed, on the opposite wall. The process of capturing an image took hours. Expanding beyond scenes of daily life outside her apartment, Lutter’s glowing black and white photographs include images of urban centers, industrial landscapes, abandoned factories and transit centers around the world.Lutter has received numerous prestigious awards, grants, and fellowships for her work, including the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst Grant, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant. She is represented in public and private collections around the world, including The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Art Institute of Chicago; the Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin; and Kunsthaus Zürich. The art of photography is widely associated with capturing a single moment in time, yet Lutter’s work suggests that our current lives cannot be separated from history, and the present is not free from the past.
Katharina Grosse is a contemporary German artist, who sprays bold colors directly onto architecture, interiors and landscapes. She approaches painting as an experience and embraces whatever arises in her process of using a spray gun as her artistic tool, distancing the act of painting from the hand of the artist. More recently she has experimented transforming spaces by spraying paint onto large sheets of fabric that hang on walls. Her use of spray guns and stencils allow the colors to bleed into each other while still remaining distinct. She was born in 1961 in Freiburg im Breisgau Germany and attended Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where she is a professor today. Previously she held a professorship at Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weissensee from 2000 to 2010. She currently lives and works in Düsseldorf and Berlin.She is recognized internationally and has received awards including the Villa Romana Prize, Florence, Italy (1992), Chinati Foundation's Artist in Residence program, Marfa, TX, USA (1999), Artist in Residence at Elam School of Fine Art program, Auckland, New Zealand (2001), Andy Warhol Residency Award, Headlands Foundation, San Francisco, CA, USA (2002), Fred Thieler Award, and Otto-Ritschl-Kunstpreis (2015). Her work is in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art; QAGOMA, Brisbane, Australia; The Pérez Art Museum, Miami; Istanbul Modern; and Centre Pompidou. Her first solo exhibition was in 1992 at Modeaparis, Château de Servières, Marseille, France; and in 2018 she had solo exhibitions in China, Australia, Italy and the Czech Republic. Her unique use of material and eccentric color is exciting and revolutionary.
Roni Horn was born in New York in 1955. She completed her B.F.A. with honors at the Rhode Island School of Design, and continued her studies at Yale University, receiving her M.F.A. in 1978. After graduating, she worked as a professor at Colgate University for three years before returning to New York. Horn works with different mediums, using installations, sculptures, drawings, writings, and photography, to produce a variety of artworks. Her works revolve around literature, humans and their environment, and the nature of mutability.Horn often travels and explores Iceland and is fascinated by its geological conditions. Her visits have been highly influential and provide a source of inspiration for her artmaking, especially her well-known cast-glass sculptures and installations. Intrigued by the sun and nature’s transformative essence, Iceland’s environment and landscape became part of the artworks, the cast- glass sculptures and installations reflecting the essential idea of mutability that Horn often conveys through her creations. Horn’s artworks are included in major collections around the world: Britain, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Iceland Italy, France, Belgium, Sweden, Netherlands, Portugal, Australia, South Korea, Japan, China, Spain, Canada, Norway, and Mexico. In 2009, Tate Modern and the Whitney Museum of American Art organized Roni Horn aka Roni Horn, a traveling retrospective, shown in London, Avignon, and New York. Other major solo exhibitions include Rare Spellings, Selected Drawings, Making Being Here Enough, Installations, Drawings, Roni Horn, and Some Thames. Horn lives and works in New York and Reykjavik, Iceland.
Born in 1953, Carrie Mae Weems is an contemporary artist widely celebrated for her award-winning photographs, films and videos. Working with an extensive range of mediums, Weems challenges the roles of people of color and women within established social systems. She explores the intricacies of storytelling through a powerful combination of image and text. Some of Weems’ best-known projects are The Kitchen Table Series and From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried. The first comprehensive retrospective of her work, Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video, opened in September 2012 at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, Tennessee. When it traveled to New York City in January 2014, she became the first African-American woman ever given a solo exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Weems is successful at making art a universal dialogue. Her photo series deeply resonate with individuals of all backgrounds, as they address the trauma of America’s past through not only a critical lens, but, more importantly, one of beauty and strength.Weems has received numerous awards, grants and fellowships, including the prestigious Prix de Rome, National Medal of Arts, MacArthur Fellowship, W.E.B. DuBois Award from Harvard University and was named a Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellow. Her work is included in public and private collections across the world, such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Seville, Spain and Tate Modern.