Contemporary Art

The Mischievous Collection of Jerome & Ellen Stern

By Sotheby's

G reat collections are formed by passion, keen perception, enthusiasm and above all, a distinct point of view. Jerome and Ellen Stern travelled the world in search of sculpture, paintings, drawings and photographs from young emerging artists. Though their collection is extraordinary in many ways, one of its most distinguishing characteristics is its unmistakable sense of humor. Scroll through just a few of the playful works that caught Jerome and Ellen Stern’s eye and would help to form a collection that takes on a life all its own.


BERTOZZI & CASONI, COVER, 2003. ESTIMATE $8,000–12,000.

Artist duo Giampaolo Bertozzi & Stefano Dal Monte Casoni met while studying at the Ceramic Art College of Faenza. It was shortly thereafter that they decided to work together in a collaborative artistic partnership. They work with many different ceramic materials, using both traditional techniques and experimentation in a continuous attempt to free themselves from conventionality and cultural stereotypes connected to ceramics and to the so-called applied arts.

In these two works, Los ojos de la libertad miran hacía adentro (The eyes of freedom look from within), Mexican multimedia artist Marcos Ramírez Erre explores the key theme of geopolitical identity that runs throughout his work, presenting pithy quotes from famous historical and living dictators, philosophers and presidents from around the world, juxtaposed with their cities of origin, inspiring questions about the tension between ideology, perception, and reality.


Sylvie Fleury is a contemporary Swiss Pop artist known for her installations, sculpture and mixed media. Her work often depicts objects with aesthetic and sentimental attachments in consumer culture. Much of her work confronts issues of gendered consumption and the fetishistic relationships to consumer objects.

GAVIN TURK, APPLE, 2006. ESTIMATE $1,000–2,000.

Gavin Turk is a celebrated artist of the Young British Artist's movement. Gnawed at and then tossed away, Gavin Turk takes the thrown out trash of an apple core – shrunken and rotting –and gives it new meaning in the form of a painted bronze sculpture.

KIM JONES, RAT BOX, EXECUTED IN 2004, 2009 AND 2010. ESTIMATE $3,000–4,000.

Kim Jones began his career as a performance artist in Los Angeles in the mid 1960s. This piece, titled Rat Box, references his most controversial and famous performance of 1976 in which he performed as his alter ego Mudman, a shaman type figure who, caked in mud and other organic substances, would appear the subway and streets as well as galleries and museums.

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