Number 4, 1951
Estimate: $25-35 million
September 9, 2012, source: Sotheby’s New York
Distinguished by their provenance and out of public view for decades, the eight works are estimated to sell for $80/100 million. “To offer a group of true masterpieces that have remained together in the same private collection for four decades is an event nearly unheard of on the art market,” commented Tobias Meyer, Sotheby’s Worldwide Head of Contemporary Art.
The group of eight works is led by "Number 4, 1951", an exceedingly rare drip painting on canvas by Jackson Pollock (est. $25/35 million). Over the course of the last 20 years, only eight drip paintings on canvas by the artist have appeared at auction. Executed near the beginning of 1951, the work epitomizes the drama and dynamism of the 1950 masterpieces that had just been exhibited at Betty Parson’s Gallery in New York from November to December, many of which are now included in the nation’s leading museum collections. Layers of brilliant red, blue, yellow, green and ochre oil color are tempered by the metallic aluminum paint that seeps into the raw canvas and overlaid by frenzied flecks of shiny black enamel. "Number 4, 1951" has resided in the Kohl’s collection for over four decades, prior to which its provenance was highly prestigious.
Clyfford Still’s masterful "1948-H" defines the critical moment in the artist’s career when his incomparable abstract dialect achieved its fully resolved expression (est. $15/20 million). "1948-H" was executed in 1948, the year following the artist’s one-man museum show at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, and his first show with Betty Parsons Gallery, New York. At this time, Still was working and exhibiting in both California and New York, and 1948-H was presented at private exhibitions in both locations during 1948: one for students and faculty at the California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco; and the other for artists and friends in his Cornelia Street studio, New York.
Willem de Kooning’s sublime "Abstraction" was executed circa 1949, soon after the artist’s first solo show at the Charles Egan Gallery in New York in 1948 (est. $15/20 million). Crystallizing a critical juncture in de Kooning's career, "Abstraction" combines the finest of his urban landscapes with the biomorphic figures that heralded his return to the Women series immediately thereafter. This stunning painting was handled by Martha Jackson and Allan Stone, who were among the key dealers in de Kooning’s career, before entering the Kohl’s collection in 1973.