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Christie's to offer property from the collections of William Louis-Dreyfus
William Louis-Dreyfus with Harlem Children’s Zone students visiting the William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation. Photo credit: WLD Foundation

NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s will present a non-selling exhibition of important art from The William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation and the Louis-Dreyfus family in New York September 14-18 and to announce the beginning of a multi-year collaboration between The William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation and Christie’s Outsider Art department. The September 2018 exhibition at Christie’s Rockefeller Center will include approximately 60 works, featuring lots in the upcoming January 2019 auction of Outsider art alongside other important pieces acquired by Mr. Louis-Dreyfus, and will present a comprehensive look at his vision through compelling cross-category themes. Given the great depth of the important self-taught holdings in the Foundation, Christie’s has planned a multi-year sale strategy beginning in January 2019, with additional property to be offered in forthcoming sales for the category.

William Louis-Dreyfus is celebrated as a passionate lover of art, a thoughtful collector, a published poet, and a committed philanthropist. Over many years, he assembled a significant, deeply loved collection.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, comments: “My father was never shy about what he believed in and, more than anything, he believed in art and justice. That he has found this way to marry those two beliefs is a sweet miracle for him. It makes sense for his soul. He once told me that when he first started to collect “Outsider” art, he didn’t know that it was “Outsider” art, he just thought it was good. That his good art will do good for generations to come at the Harlem Children’s Zone is deeply satisfying for our whole family.”

Driven by his own eye and great passion for the art he acquired, Louis-Dreyfus assembled a unique collection spanning work by well-known artists such as Jean Dubuffet, Helen Frankenthaler, and Alberto Giacometti, alongside pieces by contemporary artists such as Graham Nickson, Catherine Murphy, and John Newman. As a collector, Louis-Dreyfus was particularly fascinated by self-taught artists and focused his attention on James Castle, Bill Traylor, Nellie Mae Rowe, Thornton Dial, and Willie Young, who makes complex, poetic drawings on scavenged paper. Louis-Dreyfus regarded the work of his favorite self-taught artists with the same intense enthusiasm as he did anything else in the collection; acquiring their work in depth. As such, the selection presented at Christie’s will include superb examples by Castle, Dial, and Traylor, among others.

Louis-Dreyfus put his extensive art holdings into the service of his other great pursuits: supporting educational programs and improving the lives of people of color. “William had a very specific long-term vision in mind when he established the Foundation,” said Jeffrey Gilman, President of The William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation. “He donated roughly four thousand works of art to the Foundation along with a beautiful space in Mount Kisco to house the collection. The next phase in realizing William’s vision is to expand public awareness of the Foundation’s holdings and purposes and to begin selling select works to raise funds for the Harlem Children’s Zone. I believe that the September exhibition and our multi-year collaboration with Christie’s provide an excellent showcase for the Foundation’s collection and are a promising start to the next phase in the Foundation’s life.” A portion of proceeds from future sales of the Foundation artworks are earmarked to benefit the Harlem Children’s Zone.

“William’s keen eye gathered together a wonderful collection of works by artists in whom he personally believed and saw potential,” said Anne Williams-Isom, Chief Executive Officer of the Harlem Children’s Zone. “It seems so right that his singular combination of generosity and genius would lead to a new chapter for the collection – helping to nurture the growth of under-served children in whom he similarly believed and saw potential.”

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