S otheby’s is pleased to announce that works from the William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation and Family Collections will highlight Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art and Contemporary Art Day Auctions in New York this November, and will continue to feature across Sotheby’s global auctions through 2020 and beyond.
Amassed over a period of more than 50 years and spanning time periods and continents, The William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation and Family Collections are a testament to Louis-Dreyfus’s aesthetic intuition, curiosity and passion for collecting on a personal level. The Foundation Collection alone contains more than 3,500 works of art and is housed in a museum-quality space in Mount Kisco, New York.
The Louis-Dreyfus Collections showcase artists with an interest in political commentary and social comedy, such as George Grosz, Honoré Daumier and Raymond Mason, as well as those working in the realm of amorphous and non-representative art, such as Jean Dubuffet, Joan Miró and Wassily Kandinsky. Characterized by its recontextualization of known artists while giving voice to those who were unjustly underrepresented, including a focus on self-taught artists—the William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation and Family Collections stand among the most progressive and wide-ranging in the United States.
In the Impressionist & Modern Art Day sale, the Louis-Dreyfus Collections are highlighted by a comprehensive group of works on paper by Wassily Kandsinky. The works not only exemplify their respective periods, but also epitomize the qualities of expression for which Kandinsky’s oeuvre is celebrated, affording an overview of the artist’s role in the birth of Abstraction and his life-long experimentation with different modes of artistic representation. The collection also features an assemblage of works on paper by Honoré Daumier, whose drawings and watercolors depicting French nobility, politicians, magistrates and lawyers are considered among the best caricature and social satire drawings of the 19th century.
Among the highlights in the Contemporary Art Day auction is Jean Dubuffet’s stunning Portrait of Jules Supervielle (estimate $70/100,000), which comes from a series of portraits by Dubuffet of important Parisian writers and intellectuals. There are also important early works on paper by Claes Oldenburg on offer, which showcase the artist’s technical skill and imagination that would be realized in his more well-known, large-scale sculptures.
Born in 1932 outside Paris, William Louis-Dreyfus fled Nazi-occupied France and moved to the United States, where he attended Duke University in 1954 and later graduated from the university’s law school. Louis-Dreyfus went on to practice law at Dewey Ballantine in New York City, and from 1969 until his retirement in 2006 he was the chief executive officer of the Louis Dreyfus Group, and international organization of diversified companies that had been wholly owned by the Louis-Dreyfus family since its foundation in 1851. Louis-Dreyfus transformed the business into one of the leading global commodities trading platforms.
In addition to his passion for collecting art, Louis-Dreyfus was also a published poet and essayist, as well as an avid lover of nature. From 1998 to 2008, he served as chairman of the Poetry Society of America. In 2013, Louis-Dreyfus established the William Louis-Dreyfus 3 Foundation to educate the public about the importance of art and to increase public awareness of self-taught and emerging artists. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Foundation works will be donated to the Harlem Children’s Zone, a pioneering nonprofit organization dedicated to ending generational poverty in Harlem.