Jean-Michel Basquiat Soothsayer
Contemporary Art

Marc Jacobs: A Character Reflected in a Collection

By Sotheby's
Few individuals have exerted such broad an influence on the trends of fashion and contemporary art as Marc Jacobs. Considered one of the most important couturiers of the last three decades, Jacobs’s unrelenting commitment to his creative vision has earned him immense appreciation, as both head designer of his eponymous fashion label and formerly as creative director of Louis Vuitton between 1997 and 2013.

I t is of little surprise therefore, that Jacobs’s discerning eye and fastidious taste for exceptional quality is reflected in his esteemed collection of contemporary art. In an impeccable array of masterworks by period defining artists including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Lucio Fontana, David Hockney and Gerhard Richter, the Collection of Marc Jacobs brings together an iconoclastic and eclectic host of works that testifies to the extraordinary character of its ensemblier.

Marc Jacobs Peter Lindbergh
Marc Jacobs. © Peter Lindbergh.

Demonstrating the designer’s undeniable passion for contemporary artworks of the highest order, Marc Jacobs’s collection is typified by examples as diverse as Richter’s Säbelantilope (1966), Jeff Koons’s Yorkshire Terriers (1991) and Takashi Murakami’s The Double Helix (2002), and brings together a plethora of seminal works by adventurous, global art stars. As well as displaying an exuberant variety, each work attests to an individual depth and respective importance that defines Jacobs’s exceptionally curated collection.

From Koons’s Yorkshire Terriers – central to his significant Made in Heaven series – to Hockney’s The Salesman (1963) – a sublime example of the artist’s early paintings – these works exhibit an expert appreciation of the vanguard art movements of the last half-century. Assembled with the creativity and connoisseurship of one of the most celebrated arbiters of contemporary taste, this selection of works charts a panorama of hugely influential artists, curated by one of the most pioneering aesthetes of recent times.

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Across wet and dry media alike, over the course of one of the most celebrated careers of the Twentieth Century, Basquiat’s esteemed style and panache materialises in a cascade of audacious colour and resolute mark-making – a confidence and mastery of craft that is none better demonstrated than in the present example, Soothsayer, executed in 1983. The marriage of text and image was characteristic to Basquiat’s poetics; a diverse aesthetic vocabulary that he inherited from the freeform jazz of Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker and Miles Davis, channelling the rhythm of Be-Bop in a heady fusion with the stylistic elements of graffiti art, Jean Dubuffet, Pablo Picasso and Cy Twombly.

Jeff Koons

Yorkshire Terriers embodies Jeff Koons’s career-long examination of the complexities of objecthood, as well as his innate challenge to traditional concepts of taste, seduction, and consumerism in twentieth-century America. Undeniably adorable, and utterly kitsch, Yorkshire Terriers belongs to Koons’s illustrious and highly controversial Made in Heaven series, executed between 1989 and 1991.

The series infamously oscillates between the sexually explicit and the innocuous, and the playful, cartoonish puppies in the present work counterbalance the X-rated images of the artist and his then-wife Ilona Staller in erotic glass and marble sculptures such as Ilona on Top – Outdoors (Kama Sutra) and Bourgeois Bust – Jeff and Ilona.

Gerhard Richter

On the precipice between photographic realism and painterly abstraction, the present work explores and articulates the intrinsic problems of visual representation during the post-war period. Richter selected the original photograph of the sable antelope in 1962, and four years later he translated the image to canvas by means of brush and oil paint in the neutral shades of black and white photography. While Richter began re-purposing photographs as visual aids in the late 1950s, his tendency to turn towards the medium of photography is deeply rooted in his younger years.

“For a time I worked as a photographic library assistant: the masses of photographs that passed through the bath of developer every day may well have caused a lasting trauma.”

— Gerhard Richter

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