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Artists donate important works to benefit the Whitney Museum of American Art's new building project
Jeff Koons, Balloon Monkey Wall Relief (yellow), 2011. Est. $800,000/1.2 million. Photo: Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s announced that its Evening and Day auctions of Contemporary Art on 14 & 15 May 2013 will offer a group of 25 works to benefit the Whitney Museum of American Art’s new building in downtown New York, together estimated in excess of $8 million*. Works from artists championed by the Whitney over the course of its 83-year history – including Jasper Johns, Cy Twombly, Ellsworth Kelly, Jeff Koons, Glenn Ligon, George Condo, Cindy Sherman and more – have been donated personally by many of the artists, as well as by prominent artists’ estates, private collectors and dealers. The full group will be on view in Sotheby’s York Avenue galleries beginning 10 May, in advance of the auctions.

Adam D. Weinberg, Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, said: “I am inspired and moved by the outpouring of friendship and support we’ve received from the artists, artists’ estates, dealers, and collectors who have contributed work to this once-in-a-lifetime auction. I cannot thank them enough. These contributions are a testament to their strong connection to the Whitney’s history and a commitment to its future.” Mr. Weinberg continued: “This auction is enormously significant for us. Right now, we are making great progress on the construction of our new downtown home, between the south end of the High Line and the Hudson River. Designed by Renzo Piano, our beautiful new building, projected to open in 2015 on Gansevoort Street, will vastly increase the Whitney’s exhibition and programming space. It will provide aspirational sites for the artists of our time to realize their ideas and a place for audiences to connect deeply with art.”

Lisa Dennison, Chairman of Sotheby’s North & South America, commented: “We are delighted to help an important member of the vital and vibrant museum community of New York to realize its vision for a remarkable new home. This auction represents a unique opportunity for collectors, who will have the opportunity both to support a great cause and to acquire stellar pieces by leading figures of contemporary art – many of which may not otherwise have come to market.”


Jasper Johns, Untitled, 2012. Estimate $1.5/2 million

The Whitney has collected and exhibited Jasper Johns’s work throughout his long and varied career. It was included in the Museum’s Annual Exhibitions each year from 1959 through 1963, and an important survey of the artist’s work the Whitney organized in 1977 traveled to Cologne, Paris, London, Tokyo, and San Francisco. In all, five solo and more than thirty-seven group exhibitions at the Museum have featured Johns’s work. The significant paintings White Target (1957), Three Flags (1958), 0 Through 9 (1961), Double White Map (1965), Studio II (1966), Racing Thoughts (1983), and Untitled (1996), are held in the Whitney’s permanent collection, along with some 150 prints and drawings.

Glenn Ligon, Stranger #64, 2012. Estimate $350/450,000
Glenn Ligon’s relationship with the Whitney began with his residency in the Museum’s Independent Study Program in 1985, where his interest in artists such as de Kooning and Twombly began to influence his thinking about art. Beginning with his career-marking inclusion in the 1991 Whitney Biennial, works by Ligon have been featured in more than 20 exhibitions at the Museum, including the important 2011 mid-career survey of his work, Glenn Ligon: AMERICA. The 23 works in the Museum’s permanent collection, comprising paintings, drawings, prints, and neon sculptures, represent the largest holdings of Ligon’s works by any institution.

Cy Twombly, Untitled, 1971. Estimate $500/700,000
The Whitney played an important role in the reintroduction of Cy Twombly’s work to American audiences with its 1979 retrospective exhibition Cy Twombly: Paintings and Drawings 1954–1977. More recently, in 2005, the retrospective Cy Twombly: Fifty Years of Works on Paper was presented at the Museum. Twombly’s work was first shown at the Whitney in its 1967 Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting and Sculpture, and has been included in more than twenty exhibitions to date. Ten of his works are held in the Museum’s permanent collection: the large “blackboard” painting Untitled (1969), three sculptures in bronze, four prints, and two drawings.

Mark Bradford, Is That What He Told You, 2012. Estimate $350/450,000
Mark Bradford’s first exhibition with the institution, Very Powerful Lords, was presented in 2003 at the Whitney Museum for American Art at Altria, featuring large-scale wall paintings and sculptural elements made from found objects. A second solo show, Neither New Nor Correct, was mounted at the Museum in 2007. For his contributions to the 2006 Whitney Biennial, Bradford was the recipient of the prestigious Bucksbaum Award, which honors an American artist whose work “has the potential to make a lasting impact on the history of American art.”

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