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Christie's offers works from The Arthur and Anita Kahn Collection in a series of sales in New York, London and Paris
Alexander Calder, Vertical out of Horizontal, hanging mobile—painted sheet metal and wire. Executed in 1948. Estimate: $2,000,000–3,000,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2015.


NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s announced the sale of The Arthur and Anita Kahn Collection, the distinguished collectors and patrons of the arts, in the upcoming auction season. The Kahn’s thoughtfully assembled collection was formed over the course of several decades and spans the categories of Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art. Their eclectic art filled home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan showcased works by major artists such as Alexander Calder, Fernand Léger, Henri Matisse, Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso, Richard Pousette-Dart, and David Smith among others. Longtime friends of Alexander Calder, the Kahn’s collection contained over eighty works by the artist and is the most significant grouping of works by the artist to be offered at auction. The collection, which will be sold in New York, London and Paris as well as the online-only channel, is expected to realize in excess of $50 million.

World renowned dentist with a roster of celebrity clients, Arthur Kahn was a pioneer in his profession, as one of the leading kind of proponents and developers of gnathology, an alternative to orthodonture. Anita Kahn had been an art student at Temple University and during the 1950s she resumed her studies at The New School for Social Research in New York as a student of Moses Soyer, Richard Pousette-Dart, and Anthony Toney. This rekindled interest in the arts led in the following decades to Anita and Arthur Kahn becoming art collectors and patrons. Examples from their collection have been exhibited in museums throughout the world including the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Ahead of the auctions in November, a selection of works can be previewed at Christie’s Rockefeller Center headquarters beginning Friday, August 14th for two weeks. “We are thrilled to be honoring the legacy of Arthur and Anita Kahn with this exceptional preliminary preview of works from their collection of Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art, they thoughtfully acquired over the course of several decades. The Kahns were great patrons, champions and friends of artists such as Alexander Calder, David Smith, Richard Pousette-Dart, Ibram Lassaw and Dorothy Dehner. Their apartment in the Upper West Side of Manhattan was dedicated to the art they loved, the art that could not be hung was propped against the walls, and eventually took over the entire apartment” declared Paul Provost Deputy Chairman, Christie’s Americas.

“The appearance of such a sizable group of works by Alexander Calder on the market is a rare event. This collection of hanging mobiles, standing mobiles, stabiles, gouaches, drawings, and jewelry offers an exciting glimpse into Calder’s considerable genius, showing off his remarkable prowess in understanding the construction of weight and balance, light and shadow, elegance and harmony. It’s is also extremely exciting to present so many important works by Richard Pousette-Dart, a pioneer among New York’s Abstract Expressionists and one of the youngest member of the New York School,” added Jonathan Laib, Senior Specialist, Post-War & Contemporary Art.

Post-War & Contemporary Art
Alexander Calder

The couple acquired some of their earliest works by Alexander Calder at the Perls Galleries, New York. They later befriended the artist and spent time with him and his family in Saché, France and Roxbury, Connecticut.

The Kahns owned several important hanging mobiles and stabiles, an extensive collection of jewelry and a selection of beautiful gouaches and drawings, some of which are dedicated to the Kahns themselves. Christie’s holds the world record prices for works by Alexander Calder, including the top prices for any outdoor sculpture, hanging mobile, and standing mobile and the Kahn’s ensemble is probably the most significant grouping of works by the artist to ever come to the market. Four large hanging mobiles will be offered in the Evening Sale of Post War and Contemporary Art , including The Aeroplane-Tower with Six Leaves and a Dot from 1951 (estimate: $1,800,000-2,500,000) and the astonishing Vertical out of Horizontal (estimate: $2,000,000-3,000,000)—both showcase the perfect embodiment of the artist's technical mastery and his unrivalled eye for aesthetic detail. The beauty of Vertical out of Horizontal lies in its simplicity; from the formal purity of the dark forms to the sublime gracefulness of the sculpture's movement, this particular work demonstrates the range of Calder's skills especially with the remarkable early example of his pierced sheet metal in mobile format. The mobile not only shows Calder's consideration of multi-dimensional aspects, it also demonstrates his interest in multiple viewpoints. It looks elegantly vertiginous if seen from the side. From below, the concentration of black discs is visually arresting, and the shapes appear to float beside one another on one horizontal plane.

“I would often get up in the middle of the night to listen to the Calders move through the air, and watch the shadows they created. It was an experience like none other, and such a privilege to be surrounded by such beauty” remembered daughter Karen Kahn.

Richard Pousette-Dart
Throughout his career Richard Pousette-Dart created a personal vocabulary of biomorphic and totemic forms which he would explore in a multitude of painterly approaches. Blood Wedding, 1958, is regarded as one of the most significant paintings in Richard Pousette-Dart's career and is poised to break the world auction record for the artist. Here, the swirling Surrealist-derived biomorphic forms of his 1940s work gives way to bold harmonies of saturated, high-key color and a shimmering light-drenched surface. The forms suggest abstracted mythic figures that were populating many of the Abstract Expressionists' canvases at this time. Pousette-Dart was also influenced by the hieratic quality of African art, the bold outlines of Native American design and the inner light and composition of stained glass windows, which, combined with the artist's thick impasto, create a magical landscape of evocative forms and abstract poetry.

In his book, Richard Pousette-Dart: The Body of Painting, the associate professor of Art History at New York University, Pepe Karmel describes Blood Wedding as “a frieze of abstract figures composed of diamonds, circles, and other geometric shapes (which) glitters magnificently with encrusted colors. The underlying drama of the image, with its “brutal” reds and raucous yellow, is simultaneously enhanced and transcended by the glittering superficies of the canvas. Instead of being applied in flat, opaque layers, the paint is built up into ridges; additional layers of paint are scumbled over these ridges, forming veils that seems to waver and shimmed in front of the drawn figures.” And he adds “The title was suggested, post-facto, by the artist’s wife, Evelyne Pousette-Dart, for whom the picture suggested the romance and tragedy of Federico Garcia Lorca’s 1933 play, a Spanish variation on Romeo and Juliet. Beyond the literary reference, the picture recalls the Churrigueresque style of Spanish architecture, which cloaks the sever geometry of classicism beneath a layer of fantastical ornament.”

David Smith
The Kahns were also friends with David Smith and his wife Dorothy Dehner and visited them regularly at their farm in upstate New York. The collection includes several sculptures by the artist including Agricola XIII, (estimated: $2,500,000-3,500,000) which is a continuation of Smith’s celebrated notion of sculpture as a multifaceted image penetrated by space. Finding a champion in the surreal and abstracted figures of Alberto Giacometti, a noted influence on Smith, subtly hidden within each Agricola is a reference to the figurative. Smith also worked with painted steel in a series called Tanktotems in which he incorporated boiler parts and cylindrical steel tank parts. The monumental Tanktotem VIII (estimate: $2,000,000-3,000,000) demonstrate the influence of Joan Miró in its anthropomorphic brightly colored forms. This major work has been exhibited at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

Impressionist & Modern Art
This distinguished collection demonstrates the range, international taste and passion of Arthur and Anita Kahn. Throughout their life they acquired distinguished works on paper by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Fernand Léger, Auguste Herbin, Joan Miró, and sculptures by Henry Moore, Julio Gonzales and Jean Arp. One of the highlights of this section is Henri Matisse’s Femme endormie dated 1939, Matisse employed charcoal for his most finished drawings, the tonal gradations used in Femme endormie are extremely subtle, (estimated $700,000-1,000,000).

Preview of highlights: August 14th-28th Christie’s Rockefeller Plaza - West Galleries





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