Roberta Maneker went to Sotheby’s this morning to see the press preview of the Cohen Collection. Here’s her report:
A dazzling collection of 20 pictures and sculptures from the much heralded collection of Steven and Alexandra Cohen, he of the hedge fund SAC, will be on view at Sotheby’s from April 2-14. “Women” is a powerhouse display depicting females in wildly varied styles, poses and media, and is a trove for scholarly analysis. Comparison is, of course, the name of the game, and it helps to be art historically literate. For those who need a little assist, an essay by scholar-curator Joachim Pissarro discusses the range of works on display, focusing on the dialectics of good/bad, pure/sexual, cool/hot, and the debt so many of these artists owe to the influence of Manet, frequently considered the progenitor of modernism. Pissarro was present at the press walk-through and described Cohen as “probably one of the only collectors I know who spans not one, not two, but three centuries” – true, sort of, if you start at the end of the 19th, with Cohen’s distinguished collection of Impressionists and early Moderns, and end with today’s more challenging works by Yuskavage, Freud, Dumas and the like (one work by each on view here).
The genesis of the exhibition is the by now familiar story of Sotheby’s Tobias Meyer dining at the Cohen home, with Picasso’s Le Repos and Warhol’s Turquoise Marilyn both in his direct line of site, giving rise to the suggestion of this one-owner exhibition. Cohen responded enthusiastically, though it is not irrelevant that he owns 5.9% of Sotheby’s stock – a stake making Cohen one of its largest shareholders. When asked directly, Meyer firmly responded, “These works are not for sale.” (“Not now,” thought everyone in the room.) As to the value of the works on line, Meyer declined to comment; however, Alexandra Peers, in New York Magazine’s daily Vulture blog, says nearly “half a billion dollars.” Whatever, it is a stunning collection of first-class works which encourage the viewer to see connections, make comparisons, and enjoy the company of some first-class Women.
This is the first exhibition focused entirely on Cohen’s exceptional art. You have thirteen days to get to see this don’t-miss exhibition.