NEW YORK, N.Y.- Christies
to announce the auction on November 9, 2011, of selected works from the celebrated Anton and Annick Herbert Collection of Minimal Art, Conceptual Art and Arte Povera. Formed in Ghent, Belgium, by the Herberts, beginning in the 1960s, the collection is considered to be one of the most important in the world and has been exhibited publicly all over Europe. The collection is notable for its high quality, its critical engagement with key issues of the 1960s, 70s and 80s, and its origins in the personal relationships enjoyed by the Herberts with the visionary artists they supported. A total of 35 exceptional pieces from the collection will be offered at auction in New York on 9th November 2011 and are expected to fetch $5 million to $7 million in support of establishing the Herbert Art Center.
The Anton and Annick Herbert Collection is a unique assembly of works, collected over the course of three decades and encompassing the pivotal years 1968 to 1989. These dates, so significant in the course of history, include the counter-revolutionary youth movements that moved across Europe, and the fall of the Berlin Wall that dramatically radicalized the social and cultural sphere in the West. The artists that Annick and Anton Herbert have championed and continue to support have all played a critical part in the evolutions of this era. Uniting names such as Carl Andre, Giovanni Anselmo, Robert Barry, Hanne Darboven, Douglas Huebler, Joseph Kosuth, Sol LeWitt, Richard Long, Mario Merz, Bruce Nauman, Mike Kelley, Franz West, Lawrence Wiener and Martin Kippenberger, the collection includes some of the greatest adherents of Minimalism, Art Povera and Conceptual Art, as well as those ciphers acting in the spaces between. Together, the works in the collection form an open dialogue, capturing the essence of contemporary debate during this pivotal moment in art history. The auction of this section of the collection provides an extraordinary opportunity for others to participate in a spirit of adventure best expressed by Anton Herbert himself when he said, ‗We have not collected works of art, but a new way of thinking.
Francis Outred, International Director, Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art, Europe, stated: ―It is an absolute privilege for Christies to be able to handle selected works from the collection of Annick and Anton Herbert, quite simply one of the most important and defining collections of post-war art. Encompassing all of the elements which have driven their refined taste over forty years of collecting, the auction encompasses key works from the Minimalist, Conceptual and Arte Povera movements as well as their artistic inheritors in the 1980s. Each work represents a journey for the Herberts. Extremely analytical about the nature of their collecting, they have thought carefully about each choice they have made and each artistic relationship they have developed. They were central to the development of a small, close knit community of artists, collectors and dealers who supported these movements at their birth when there was much scepticism. However that support has borne fruit as an inspiration to thousands of artists working today and these ideas have in turn inspired many of the tendencies of art in the 21st century. As a result, a trip to the Herbert's collection has been likened to a pilgrimage to other artistic meccas like Marfa and Dia. The decision to sell has been a very difficult one for the Herberts, since they have always determined not to sell works from their collection. However the chance to create a lasting legacy in the Herbert Art Center in Ghent which will archive this historic artistic journey makes this more than worthwhile. The auction will create a once in a lifetime chance to acquire works from this historic collection.
With the proceeds of the forthcoming auction, the Anton and Annick Herbert Foundation look forward to creating a unique public institution primarily dedicated to Minimal Art, Arte Povera and Conceptual Art to be located in the heart of Ghent, Belgium. The Herbert Art Centre is conceived as a permanent exhibition space and archive for the pivotal works assembled by the Herbert Collection. The Centre will also provide a calendar of public and educational events designed to broaden the understanding and awareness of this key moment in twentieth century art history and to preserve the artists legacy for present and future generations.
To mark the unique occasion of having this collection, Christies will exhibit the works on the 20th floor of 1230 Avenue of the Americas, at Rockefeller Center as Christies did in 2006 for the Works of Donald Judd, from the Judd Foundation. The pieces will be shown in a space that will be specially designed to highlight the important connection between art and its spatial context. The viewing will open on October 25th and will be accessible to the public throughout the three weeks leading up to the sale on November 9th.
Highlights of the sale include:
*CARL ANDRE (B. 1935), Steel Lead Alloy Square steel and lead, in one hundred parts Executed in 1969 Estimate: $1,500,000-2,000,000.
Carl Andre's floor piecesflat, modular and made of ordinary materialschallenge all traditional conceptions of sculptures as three-dimensional objects executed in marble or bronze. Their flatness, however, does not diminish their physical presence. As the artist has stated, "I don't think of them as being flat at all. I think, in a sense, that each piece supports a column of air that extends to the top of the atmosphere."
*SOL LEWITT (1928-2007) ,Untitled (Modular Cube) baked enamel on steel. Executed in 1967-68 Estimate: $380,000-450,000.
A consistent theme of Sol LeWitt's sculpture has been to explore the relationship of modular cubes to the two-dimensional grid. The three-dimensional element becomes an extension of two-dimensional pictorial space, while at the same time contrasting with it. Comprising a simple, almost skeletal, structure, Untitled (Modular Cube) invites the eye to pierce the previously impenetrable exterior of art and explore the space inside.
*BRUCE NAUMAN (B. 1941) White Breathing iron blocks, in fourteen parts. Executed in 1976 Estimate: $1,600,000-2,000,000.
Executed in 1976, White Breathing is one of an important and rare group of room-sized floor installations by Bruce Nauman. Two different kinds of cast iron blocks are spread across the floor. Both types have slanted sides, and the opposing sides are always parallel to each other. But it appears that there are more than two typesa visual illusion that Nauman creates by carefully choosing the shape combinations.
*JOSEPH KOSUTH (B. 1945) One and Three Coats - coat, photograph and ink on paper Executed in 1965 Estimate: $140,000-180,000.
Created in 1965, One and Three Coats is a landmark installation in Conceptual Art, comprised of a coat, a photograph of the coat, and an enlarged dictionary definition of the word "coat." The work changes each time it is installed, since the coat may be hung differently from room to room, and the photograph must show the coat precisely as it is installed; so the one invariable ―coat‖ is the written definition. For Kosuth, then, art is a fundamentally linguistic concept rather than a visual or material category.
*LAWRENCE WEINER (B. 1940), Bent to a Straight and Narrow at a Point of Passage #422 vinyl lettering affixed to a wall. Executed in 1978 Estimate: $80,000-120,000.
Since the 1970s, Lawrence Weiner, one of the central figures of Conceptual art, has created wall installations consisting solely of words painted in nondescript letters. The lettering need not be done by Weiner himself, as long as the sign painter complies with the instructions dictated by the artist. Among the first works acquired by the Herberts was one of Weiners sentences, which the couple bought because they found it so shockingly provocative.
*MARIO MERZ (1925-2003) 6765 eighty three stacks of newspapers, glass plates and neon tubes. Executed in 1976 Estimate: $750,000-950,000.
An extraordinarily lyrical fusion of light, energy and material, seeming to form a condensed movement across the gallery floor, 6765 is a major work by Mario Merz that expresses a profound sense of both the material build-up of information and ideas over time and of the continuous progression (and even ethereal flow) of events through history.
*GIOVANNI ANSELMO (B. 1934) Verso l'infinito iron, incision, transparent varnish Executed in 1969 Estimate: $120,000-180,000.
Verso linfinito (Toward Infinity) is one of an important series of iron works that Giovanni Anselmo made at the height of his involvement with Arte Povera in the late 1960s. Consisting only of a solid block of iron onto which the small incision of an arrow pointing toward the mathematical sign for infinity has been engraved, the work at first looks like a Minimalist statement of the kind then being made in America. As with all of Anselmos work, however, this piece is a pointer toward the invisible and eternal forces of physics and of nature at work within the world - forces that shape all human concepts of space, form and time.
*LUCIANO FABRO (b. 1936) Corona di Piombo (Crown of Lead) lead Executed in 1971 Estimate : $100,000-150,000.
A fascinating, iconic and instantly recognizable image, Corona di Piombo (Crown of Lead) is vast and extraordinary play of form, symbolism, material and texture that derives from the height of Luciano Fabros involvement with 'arte povera in the late 1960s and early '70s.
Immediately recognizable as an enormous crown of laurels rendered and materialized in large leaf-like sheets of lead, the laurel wreath form of Corona di Piombo is also powerfully evocative of Italy and its glorious, historic and classical past. Fabros intention with all these works was to a liberating one. The aim was to induce in the viewer a new awareness of space and reality as a vital and enriched arena of potential existing beyond the confines of convention.
*MIKE KELLEY (b. 1954) Heart and Flower, felt on felt Executed in 1988 Estimate : $200,000-300,000.
Mike Kelleys Heart and Flower was created in 1988 and is a vast example of his celebrated felt banners. This work, which stretches over three meters across, features hearts individually applied to the border of the pale surface, romantic or religious visions surrounding the so-called ‗flower of the title. As is so often the case in Kelleys subversive world, the ‗flower appears problematic: it is more like a huge pool of spattered blood, yet has in fact been painstakingly applied to the surface, like the hearts, and comprises various elements made of orange-red felt individually arranged and laid down, the result of preparation and concentration rather than the scattered impression it deliberately conveys.