Arts & Culture

Design and Art Auctioned and Exhibited

Australian Pavilion in Venice

An important auction of Scandinavian furniture is on tap for Pierre Bergé & Associates in Brussels on April 27, 2015. Given the popularity of mid-century modern at the moment, I bet the furniture auctioned will bring seriously high prices for storied pieces. When I came across the sale, it brought to mind the moment in history when the head of the esteemed auction house was selling off his art collection, a moment of both religion and poetry in the art world.


Pierre Bergé & Associates

Andy Warhol's Yves Saint Laurent
Andy Warhol’s portrait of Yves Saint Laurent.

It was February of 2009 when he decided to let go of 733 exceptional works of art—an eclectic mix of antiques and modern art, pieces from Africa and Asia, art deco furniture, and enamels from the Middle Ages. The longtime companion to Yves Saint Laurent granted Interview magazine a fascinating Q&A that is well worth a read because it reveals the point of view of one of the most well known art collectors of our time. Of the modern works included in the Christie’s sale in Paris were four Mondrian paintings, a sculpture by Brancusi, three works by Léger, a Cézanne watercolor, a small Provençal landscape by Vincent van Gogh, and a Duchamp Dada masterpiece (one of the few still in private hands).

He told Judith Benhamou-Huet, who wrote the article, “I would have liked to have found a Barnett Newman. I would have liked to have found a Rothko. I would have liked to have found a Pollock. I would have liked to have found a Bacon. It didn’t happen. We didn’t come across them. But in this collection you won’t find any Chagalls, no Balthus, no surrealists. And nothing by Picasso outside the cubism.” One of the important pieces the collector did not sell was the Andy Warhol portrait—a quadriptych—of Saint Laurent. “It has to stay with the Yves Saint Laurent–Pierre Bergé foundation, to which it belongs,” he told the journalist, sharing his memories of meeting Warhol during the luminous pop-art time of Warhol and Basquiat in New York City. The Saint Laurent portrait is one of my favorites for how Warhol used the color purple.


Cleto Munari Collection Auctioned

Cleto Munari, Ettore Sottsass and Carlo Scarpa
Cleto Munari, 42 years old in 1972 when he met his 66 year-old mentor, collaborator and friend Carlo Scarpa (middle), is also seen here with Ettore Sottsass on the right.


We covered the Pierre Bergé auction of Cleto Munari’s collection in Brussels here on adroyt in April 2012. It was deemed the “Design Auction of the Century” (an echo of the sale of Bergé’s own art collection, which was dubbed “The Sale of the Century,” as this book attests). An Andy Warhol portrait of Carlo Scarpa was included in Munari’s collection, as were design treasures by Eero Saarinen and Ettore Sottsass. JoAnn Locktov shared her history with the patron of art and design in the piece, which also highlighted a milestone for Designers & Books.

We’ll be back here in a few weeks with news of another design auction—the Housing Works Design on a Dime event will kick off here in New York City with an opening party on April 23. The design for a cause mainstay that raises money for adults living with HIV/AIDS will be open to the public on April 24 and 25. Stay tuned for more news soon!

Speaking of art, there is an exhibition on view in Maine that I believe is worth visiting if you are in the state known for its outdoor activities except for this time of year. I learned of Maine’s lauded history with wood when I visited Bethel a few summers ago and the products on view will illustrate how progressive the curator’s view of the natural material is. Called Beautility, the show at the Messler Gallery in Rockport, includes the Lumio, which I wrote about on The Diary of an Improvateur. The gallery is housed within one of Maine’s preeminent design schools, The Center for Furniture Craftsmanship. Let me know if you decide to go and see it in person. And if you happen to be in Paris, the Center Pompidou has a Jeff Koons retrospective on view I’d give anything to see, and it’s only there until April 27, 2015 so you’d best hurry. I enjoyed writing about the fabulous programming at the museum for Delta Sky magazine.


Australian Pavilion in Venice
The Australian Pavilion in Venice, main entry view,


Lastly, the Australia Council for the Arts will present Fiona Hall as the representative for Australia at the 56th Venice Art Biennale in 2015. Her exhibition will inaugurate the new Australian Pavilion, designed by architects Denton Corker Marshall. It will replace the 1988 temporary pavilion by Philip Cox, and it is the first 21st-century and only water-facing pavilion to be constructed in the historic Giardini. I found out about it in Dwell magazine, the black granite surface one of the standouts to the editors there. Grab your Moleskine and let’s go!

Text of Design and Art Auctioned and Exhibited © Saxon Henry, all rights reserved. Saxon is an authorpoet and digital strategist whose books include Anywhere But HereStranded on the Road to Promise and Four Florida Moderns. She also maintains The Diary of an Improvateur.