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Christie's New York to offer the most important collection of Abstract Expressionism
Jackson Pollock, No. 28, 1951. Oil on canvas, 30 1/8 x 54 1/8 inestimate: $20,000,000-30,000,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2012.

NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s announced the forthcoming sale of an outstanding private American collection of Post War and Contemporary Art: The Property from the Pincus Collection. As philanthropists, humanitarians, and art patrons, David Pincus and his wife Geraldine, known as Gerry, enjoyed a collection of Post War and Contemporary art since the early 60s. Notable for the extraordinary quality, rarity and art historical significance, it is the most important and comprehensive ensemble of Abstract Expressionism ever to come to auction. The collection boasts important Post War and Contemporary paintings and drawings and sculpture, as well as important contemporary photography, including Willem de Kooning, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, Arshile Gorky, Anselm Kiefer, Jeff Wall and Nan Goldin, among others. The total combined value of the works is estimated to exceed $100 million. The proceeds of four works by de Kooning will benefit the Pincus Family Foundation which oversees their charitable giving.

“The Pincus Collection is an extraordinary representation of the most important moments in Post-War and Contemporary art, from Mark Rothko to Jeff Wall. It represents a lifetime of collecting the best” declared Laura Paulson, Deputy Chairman, International Director – Post-War and Contemporary Art.

This astonishing collection is the result of a passion for the art shared by David and Gerry Pincus throughout their over 50-year marriage. Their commitment to philanthropy and art is a legacy that will continue to enrich the Philadelphia community as well as countless lives around the world for many generations to follow. David and Gerry became involved with the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania when it first opened in 1963, as well as the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where David served on the board for more than 35 years. The Pincuses appreciated the art of their time and were in the vanguard in recognizing the pioneering and significant work of artists such as Andy Warhol. The early collection contained eight of Warhol’s Electric Chair paintings and 20 portraits of Jackie. Over time, two of the Electric Chairs and four of the Jackies were given to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to enrich its permanent collection, along with works by Mark di Suvero and John Chamberlain.

The centerpiece of this collection is an acquisition from 1967, Mark Rothko’s magisterial Orange, Red, Yellow, 1961 (estimate: $35,000,000-45,000,000), the most important work by the artist on the market since White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose) from the David Rockefeller collection sold for $72.8m in 2007. With its hovering orange and red forms which appear to float against their soft red background, Orange, Red, Yellow is the embodiment of Mark Rothko’s style. In this painting, Rothko has created a work that is the epitome of the sublime, and it is an experience that invokes the transcendental. Its extraordinary scale and powerful palette are the essence of Rothko’s profound vision. Anyone who has visited Philadelphia would immediately know this painting, which has been on loan to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for many years along with Newman’s Onement V, and Pollock’s No. 28.

The Pincuses knew that, to create a comprehensive survey of American Expressionists, the collection needed a work of Jackson Pollock, which remained elusive. Finally, in the late 60s, Jackson Pollock’s No. 28, 1951 (estimate: $20,000,000-30,000,000) became available. From the famed collection of Mr. and Mrs. Arnold H. Maremont of Chicago, through Harold and Hester Diamond from whom the Pincuses acquired the work; it had to be added to the collection -- and it was. Measuring 38 x 54 inches, No. 28 is distinguished by its black enamel and silver grey paint with pourings and drips of white, red and yellow. There has not been a Jackson Pollock of this quality or scale at auction since 1997.

The sale also includes another rare masterwork from The New York School, Barnett Newman’s Onement V, 1952 (estimate: $10,000,000-15,000,000), acquired directly from Annalee Newman and from the important Onement series (the other works from this series are part of the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Hartford Wadsworth Atheneum in Connecticut and the Oberlin Allen Memorial Art Museum in Ohio). Onement V is an extraordinary cerulean blue with Newman’s signature “zip” in the center of the canvas, a vehicle for the transcendental self. Onement V is the most important painting by Newman to be offered at auction for nearly 20 years.

The Pincuses were known to be great admirers of Willem de Kooning and the collection includes an exceptional ensemble of definitive works by this celebrated Abstract Expressionist, including two major oil on canvas works: Untitled I, 1980, (estimate: $9,000,000-12,000,000) is the culmination of the great expressionist style of the 1970s; Untitled V, 1983 (estimate: $4,000,000-6,000,000) was recently featured in the highly praised Museum of Modern Art exhibition, de Kooning: A Retrospective, curated by John Elderfield. These paintings have a strong connection with the artist’s sculptures. De Kooning was one of the very few painters who successfully made the transition from paint to plinth, and the vivid and energetic brushstrokes which had defined his work up to this point were perfectly suited to the transformation into the tactility of the sculptural form as seen in Seated Woman on a Bench, 1972 (estimate: $2,500,000-3,500,000) and Large Torso, 1974 (estimate: $2,500,000-3,500,000). This sculpture’s highly modeled surface retains the presence of de Kooning’s own hand, with deep impressions in the surface clearly visible where he dug in his fingers and pinched the clay for emphasis as he actively willed the sculpture into being. The sale includes four major sculptures, of which three examples were recently exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. This is the first time an in-depth grouping of four bronze works by the artist has come to auction.

David and Gerry valued and cultivated many relationships with the artists comprising the Pincus Collection. Anselm Kiefer was an artist who had great presence in their lives; and they developed an enduring friendship with him. The collection contains a comprehensive array of Kiefer’s work, including the iconic Lilith’s Tochter (estimate: $800,000-1,200,000), shown in numerous exhibitions as well as Kiefer’s first major retrospective at the National Gallery in Berlin. Also included is a rare and beautiful group of watercolors and an important and symbolic vitrine, Jacob’s Dream.
Emblematic of the Pincuses’ sensitivity to the social and historical impact of contemporary art, Jeff Wall’s tour-de-force Dead Troops Talk (A vision after an ambush of a Red Army patrol, near Moqor, Afghanistan, Winter 1986) (estimate $1,500,000-2,000,000), is one of the major contemporary works included in the collection and could break the world auction record for a work by the artist. Wall merges conventions from war and horror movies with those of the history painting of previous eras to create an elaborate, grotesque fiction. The picture presents a hallucinatory scene in which soldiers who have just been killed on the battlefield are re-animated, engaging with each other in what the artist describes as a ‘dialogue of the dead’. Dead Troops Talk, has been the subject of its own exhibition at the Kunstmuseum Luzern, the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg and the Stadtische Kunsthalle in Dusseldorf. The work was also exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Modern in London and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

David and Gerry have been overly generous. Before his death in 2011, David was actively involved in humanitarian efforts and performed extraordinary acts of charity worldwide. As an art patron, he gifted and loaned major works to museums and supported artists with whom he and his wife Gerry became friends, including Henry Moore, Andy Warhol, Anselm Kiefer and Mark di Suvero. The Pincuses’ contributions of art, time and love are truly unrivalled, and their legacy will be a part of Philadelphia, and the world, for generations to come.

David was the retired chairman of Pincus-Bros.-Maxwell, a family-run menswear manufacturer in Philadelphia founded by his father and uncles when they emigrated from what is now Belarus in 1911. The company grew from a humble start to become successful under the leadership of David and his older brother Nat.

The Pincus family has been involved with numerous non-profit organizations and projects throughout the years, including International Rescue Committee, Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Institute of Contemporary Art, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Fairmount Park Art Association, American Jewish World Service, CARE and Penn State University. Before his death, David Pincus was continuing his and Gerry’s long standing leadership in the Jewish community, working hard in leading the philanthropic effort to build a Hillel House at Penn State. A particular charitable focus has been providing aid to children in need. David attributed his passion for children’s causes to a 1984 trip with friend Elie Wiesel, the noted author and Holocaust survivor, to aid with famine relief in Ethiopia. On all of his humanitarian travels, David carried his trademark combination of lollypops and Snoopy dolls, believing strongly that even the simplest gesture of kindness could bring joy and hope to someone in need.

David was moved by suffering in all corners of the world, including in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Among the many examples of his selfless generosity, he traveled to Bosnia and to refugee camps in Croatia several times, bringing a Bosnian Muslim family to the United States, sponsoring a Bosnian teenager and supporting a scholarship for her education, and arranging for a 16 year old victim of a sniper attack to receive treatment at the Paris Children’s Hospital. In Israel, David was the President of the American Friends of the Israel Sports Center for the Disabled for well over thirty years, leading to the establishment of the Center for Disabled Children in Ramat Gan. At The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, David established the David N. Pincus Global Health Fellowship which sponsors two fellows in two-year rotations in South Africa and the Dominican Republic to help address the AIDS pandemic in both countries.

As a commemoration of David’s 80th birthday, Gerry and David arranged for the installation of Mark di Suvero's 40 foot high Iroquois in the Fairmount Park Art Association in Philadelphia for all of the city’s residents and visitors to view daily. Similarly, Claes Oldenburg’s Giant Three Way Plug, Scale A was given to the Museum for display in an outdoor sculpture garden in honor of the Pincuses’ dear friend, Anne d’Harnoncourt, late director of the PMA. Oldenburg had personally installed the work at the Pincus residence in the early 1970s.

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