Breaking Ground

Meet the Collectors of Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary Art Behind Our Sales

By Sotheby's

W hat are the qualities of a great collector? Passion, discernment, individuality – even bravery. Great collections are assembled by individuals who have a voracious appetite for art. They spend their time studying and searching for the works of art they cannot live without. Art is the lens through which they see the world. Some collectors, like Irvin Levy, seek paintings that reflect their joyful views – pieces awash in vibrant color and tremendous physicality. Others, like Gerald Lennard, are drawn to challenging works that reveal something essential and true about the human condition. And some, like Blema and Arnold Steinberg, start in one place but find themselves drawn to another. Regardless, the underlying principles of passion and discernment do not change. Great collectors bring into conversation wonderful works of art, and through these conversations our own understanding of these works is enhanced. Learn more about each of these visionary collectors in the videos below.

Irvin Levy: How the Nicest Man in Dallas Built a Joyful Art Collection

In this episode of Expert Voices, Sotheby’s Vice Chairman Simon Shaw explores the innovative artistic pairings created by renowned Dallas collector, Irvin Levy. Works by artists including Pierre Bonnard, Gustave Caillebotte and Paul Gauguin are seamlessly joined with Contemporary icons like Gerhard Richter and Joan Mitchell, creating dialogues that celebrate the act of painting. Despite having been executed decades apart, these richly worked canvases demonstrate Mr. Levy’s eye for color and light in a way that transcends any one movement or school. Sotheby’s is honored to offer Lumières: The Levy Family Collection across our Impressionist, Modern & Contemporary auctions this May.

Blema and H. Arnold Steinberg: A Singular Vision of 20th Century Artistic Innovation

In this episode of Expert Voices, Sotheby’s Contemporary art specialist Michael Macaulay discusses highlights from the Collection of Blema and H. Arnold Steinberg, to be offered across a series of sales in New York, beginning this May. The Steinberg Collection stands as one the great private curatorial achievements of the past fifty years, and contains works by many of the most recognized artists of the 20th century, including Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Agnes Martin, Helen Frankenthaler, Kenneth Noland and Mark Rothko. Together, these incredible works mirror the progression of Modern art from figuration to abstraction and beyond, providing an exciting and critical reevaluation of how these artists relate to each other and offering a fresh perspective on each work individually.

Gerald L. Lennard: Art as a Window to the Mind

In this episode of Expert Voices, Sotheby’s Chairman Oliver Barker and Art Advisor Laura Paulson explore the Gerald L. Lennard Foundation Collection, to be offered across Sotheby’s Impressionist, Modern & Contemporary Auctions in New York. Passionately assembled by Gerard L. Lennard primarily in the 1970s and '80s, the collection embodies a cerebral preoccupation with the human psyche underpinned by Mr. Lennard’s intense curiosity about the motivations that drove artists to create. Included in the collection are rare examples from icons of 20th century painting, including Willem de Kooning's Untitled X, Francis Bacon's final portrait of his lover George Dyer, and the most comprehensive group of late works by Philip Guston ever to appear at auction. Proceeds from the collection will benefit the Foundation's ongoing mission.

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