Highlights from The Collection of Edward Albee

Launch Slideshow

Edward Albee’s collection speaks to the life and creativity of one of the most important theatrical voices of his generation. The majority of the more than 100 artworks were hung on the walls of his New York loft, which he rehung often to explore new artistic connections. Click ahead to view ten of the highlights from the upcoming auction of The Collection of Edward Albee, the full proceeds of which will provide residencies for writers and visual artists in Montauk, Long Island.

The Collection of Edward Albee
26 September | New York

Highlights from The Collection of Edward Albee

  • Jean Arp, Les Deux soeurs, 1927. Estimate $2,500,000–3,500,000.
    Executed in 1927, Les Deux soeurs is a highly accomplished example of Arp’s wood reliefs. Wood reliefs held a central place in Arp’s work throughout his career, from the time of his collaboration with the Dada group in Zurich, to his mature and highly productive period of the 1950s and 1960s. Guided by chance and intuition, the artist created organic, irregular shapes evocative of natural forms and parts of human anatomy.

  • Milton Avery, Meditation, 1960. Estimate $2,000,000–3,000,000.
     Painted in 1960, Meditation belongs to the last and arguably most important phase of Milton Avery’s career and exemplifies the daring ambition and inventiveness the artist’s work achieved between 1947 and 1963. Indeed, the paintings from this period demonstrate an evolution in style, technique and intent that serves to position Avery as one of the earliest American practitioners of chromatic abstraction, and thus a vital precursor to such iconic Post-War painters as Adolph Gottlieb, Mark Rothko, and the proponents of Color Field painting.

  • Marc Chagall, Portrait de la soeur de l’artiste, 1908. Estimate $1,500,000–2,000,000.
    Painted in 1908, Portrait de la soeur de l’artiste is an incredibly rare example of Marc Chagall's early work. The subject of this portrait is one of the artist's sisters, his most frequent models during this period.

  • Wassily Kandinsky, Weiss auf Schwarz (White on Black), 1930. Estimate $800,000–1,200,000.
    Weiss auf Schwarz is one of the few oils that Kandinsky completed using the exclusive color palette of black and white. Painted in 1930 while he was teaching at the Bauhaus, Walter Gropius' school of avant-garde art and architecture in Germany, the present work embodies the aesthetic principles Kandinsky promoted to his students.

  • Milton Avery, Two Nudes, 1954. Estimate $400,000–600,000.
    Edward Albee purchased Two Nudes directly from Milton Avery. He writes of his introduction to the artist and acquisition of the present painting: “I was hooked. I was young and quite poor at the time, and while Avery’s prices in those days were still a laugh, I could afford only one painting. I chose a canvas of two sprawled figures–one ghostly white, the other Avery blue, on a brown field–and went industriously back to my desk to write another play so that I could get some more”

  • Kurt Schwitters, Untitled (Abstract Painting with Ochre Circle), 1947. Estimate $200,000–300,000.
    Schwitters was incredibly inspired by his surroundings in the Lake District of England, where he lived in exile, and 1947 was one of the most productive years in the artist’s life. This is a forceful but organic composition, entirely abstract but not attached to or tied down by any particular set of rules. Living in self-imposed exile, playing the part of perennial outsider, Schwitters proves himself here as one of the most defiantly original artists of the first half of the twentieth century.

  • Lee Krasner, Untitled, 1964. Estimate $120,000–180,000.
    Untitled (1964) represents a pivotal moment in the artist’s development, in which she began to paint on small canvases and paper, foregoing the dark tones, and dense, knotted forms associated with her earlier work in favor a lighter, more effervescent style. Painted eight years after her husband Jackson Pollock’s death, Untitled stands as a testament to spiritual renewal.

  • John McLaughlin, V-1957, 1957. Estimate $80,000–120,000.
    Before devoting himself to painting, John McLaughlin served in the Navy in World War I and the Marines in World War II. In the period between wars, he lived in Japan and opened a Japanese print shop in Boston. In 1946, he moved to California, where he began to pursue painting at the age of 48. Though he received little formal education in art, his early work reveals a profound knowledge of both European modern art and Eastern art traditions.

  • Ossip Zadkine, Buste de femme, conceived in 1914-15. Estimate $80,000–120,000.
    Ossip Zadkine was born in Belarus, and like many Eastern European artists of Jewish descent of his generation, he later settled in Paris. Zadkine studied briefly under the celebrated French sculptor Jean-Antoine Injalbert in 1910 and quickly became an intellectual leader within the Parisian avant-garde. Zadkine’s early sculptures heavily identified with the emerging Cubist aesthetic of Braque, Picasso, and Leger, artists with whom he had frequent contact. Yet Zadine’s output always reflected a greater sense of romanticism through his free use curvilinear lines, much like the work of his friends Constantin Brancusi and Amadeo Modigliani, with whom he shared a studio after World War I.

  • Medardo Rosso, Enfant Juif (Bambino Ebreo), conceived in 1893. Estimate $80,000–120,000.
    The present work is a fine example of the many enfant portrayals that Rosso created over the course of his artistic career. It is a subject matter that he revisited vigorously, particularly during his time spent in Paris in the early 1890s. Rosso returned to Paris in 1889, after spending four years in Milan, deprived of recognition and success. He was hospitalized in the same year, but it was the following five-year period after his hospitalization that he conceived of and experimented with continuously with his series of children. Enfant Juif, conceived in 1893, is amongst them.


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