Sotheby’s is deeply honored to present works from the Martin and Diane Trust collection this spring. While the Trusts modestly maintain that their judicious acquisitions were not initially conceived as a grand art historical anthology, it is undeniable that the works in the collection represent some of the most significant and thrilling art historical breakthroughs of the Twentieth Century.
When considered en masse, important aesthetic, thematic and conceptual threads course through these works. Picasso’s Femme assise of 1949 presents a multi-faceted seated female form through interlocking planes of bold color organized via a complex linear architecture, evoking the 50 years of his prior artistic development from Cubism to Surrealism. De Kooning’s Untitled of circa 1972 explores the boundary between line and form, as the sinuous tracings of an anthropomorphic anatomy fuse with the colorful solidity of a semi-realized landscape, archetypal of the struggle between edge and interior that characterizes his 1970s practice. Dubuffet’s Mondanité XX of 1975 exemplifies his incessantly playful and humorous interpretation of the world around him, as the nominal definition of an unhindered scrawl coalesces to contrive the forms of figures stacked on top of each other. Hockney’s impressive canvas The Only One with Waves from 1991 reveals a powerfully dramatic landscape through sculptural blocks of bold color, arranged according to a linear design. Léger’s landscape Paysage d’hiver sees the absolute congruence of line and form, with the silhouettes of nature and man-made fabrications cast through a geometric prism wherein the architecture of life becomes a lexicon of shapes.
Over and over again in this collection of almost 20 major works there is a focus between line and form. Needless to say these were among the most celebrated artists of the last century, but there is a specific fascination in these works relating to how our surroundings are transcribed, that lends a real coherence to the group as a whole. It is also revealing that the long careers of each of these specific artists - Picasso, Léger, Dubuffet, de Kooning, Hockney - can very readily be categorized into discreet and immediately identifiable chronological chapters. Each artist’s journey began with exquisite draftsmanship and peaked through multiple variations of a fascination with describing form in two dimensions. Ultimately the manifold dialogues between the works of the Martin and Diane Trust Collection provide us with new perspective and through their vision we see these beautiful works in a new light.