Following the success of a selection of works from the celebrated Collection of Anton and Annick Herbert of Minimal Art, Conceptual Art and Arte Povera auctioned in New York in November 2011, Christie's
will offer for sale a portion of another extraordinary private collection, presented with the title A Way of Thinking. A unique assembly of works collected over the course of three decades and mainly acquired through inaugural gallery exhibitions, A Way of Thinking represents a discerning vision. It contains exceptional and perfectly preserved works by artists that have since become milestones in the passage of contemporary art, including names such as Gerhard Richter, Thomas Struth, Jeff Wall, Thomas Schütte, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Ellsworth Kelly, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Giuseppe Penone and Hans Haacke among others. The 59 works of art from this collection will be offered at auction at Christie's London on 15 February and are expected to fetch a total in excess of £3 million.
Francis Outred, Christie's Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art, Europe: The Herbert Collection auctioned in New York last November was a groundbreaking achievement for Conceptual art when many new world record prices were set. We are excited about the sale of A Way of Thinking, another important collection which, including some of the greatest adherents of Conceptual Art, Arte Povera, British sculpture and photography, captures the essence of contemporary debate during a pivotal moment in art history.
Darren Leak, Head of the Sale: A Way of Thinking is a distinctive private collection which shows an out of the ordinary eye for contemporary art. Throughout the years its owner selected a number of great pieces by artists such as Gonzalez-Torres and Jeff Wall, Richter and Struth. It is interesting to note that the majority of the works we are offering for sale at Christie's London on 15 February were purchased when their creators were still part of the avant-garde and not yet the superstars they have now become, demonstrating the very strong and discerning eye of the collectors.
Perfectly exemplifying the vision which inspired A Way of Thinking, is Untitled (Ross in L.A.), an early and iconic installation work by Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Executed in 1991 it was acquired by the current owner in the same year. Constituting a hieratic stack of paper printed with a single silvered square, it was conceived as a perennially renewable and ever-changing totem. As the title suggests, it stands as a tribute to the artists long-term love Ross Laycock, who died prematurely in 1991 from AIDS. Gonzalez-Torres first began his stacked paper installations in 1989, recalling the industrially manufactured objects and serialised sculptures carried out by Minimalists such as Donald Judd. With its elementary geometry, the stack simultaneously invites and deters the audience from defiling its clean, structured aesthetic (estimate: £300,000-400,000).
Another major highlight from this collection is The Jewish Cemetery, an important work executed by Jeff Wall in 1985 and acquired in 1989 (estimate: £300,000-500,000). Considered to be one of the most important works in Jeff Walls oeuvre, the immense scale of The Jewish Cemetery investigates the conventions of traditional western European painting to raise questions not only about how we look at art but also on the fundamental nature of modern life. The artists use of a light-box, combined with the omnipresent size of the overall image, produces a semi-religious experience and acts to engage the senses with rich visual pleasures inherent to the work.
Equally powerful yet very different in style is Hans Haackes Reaganomics. Executed in 1982-1983, this work captures the mood in the United States at the very beginning of Ronald Reagans presidency. It also investigates the discourses of media, cultural and political power by forcing a reexamination of how images are encoded with meaning. Created shortly after the Presidents son was pictured queuing for the dole in the New York Post on 14th October 1982, Reaganomics illuminates the populist and rhetorical effect of the Presidents language, using the same advertising tactics as those used in commercial practice. Widely exhibited, including at The Tate Gallery in London, The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, and Centre George Pompidou in Paris, this work is estimated at £20,000-30,000. Also included in the sale are important lots by many other international artists, such as a work by Thomas Struth From Unconscious Places (Unbewußte Orte) estimated at £150,000-200,000 and Thomas Schüttes Innocenti (estimate: £180,000-250,000.