Led by two Mark Rothko works with estimates at $7m and $9m, Blema and Arnold Steinberg’s collection heavy in color field art will be sold at Sotheby’s this May. Among the works with strong potential is this Helen Frankenthaler (above) called Newfoundland painted in 1975 and offered with a $1.5m low estimate. There are works by Agnes Martin, Robert Motherwell, Kenneth Noland and Adolph Gottlieb. The Steinberg’s more than 100 works acquired over a fifty-year period from the mid 1960s through 2014 will be sold across a range of sales in New York in May and this Fall. The collection carries a global estimate of $40m or more.
Here’s Sotheby’s release:
While representing the vast sphere of artistic innovation that took place across the United States and Canada in the post-war decades, from Abstract Expressionism to the Hard Edge and Minimalist movements, the heart of the Steinberg Collection lies in its extraordinary assemblage of Color Field painting – the finest ever to appear at auction. In addition to important works by Agnes Martin, Robert Motherwell, Helen Frankenthaler, Kenneth Noland and Adolph Gottlieb, the collection is led by two utterly captivating and transcendent paintings by Mark Rothko, both executed in the final year of his life: Untitled (Red and Burgundy Over Blue) (estimate $9/12 million) and Untitled (Red on Red) (estimate $7/10 million).
Michael Macaulay, Senior International Specialist of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Department in New York, commented: “The Steinberg Collection represents one of the great private curatorial achievements of the past half century, and it is a great privilege to present Blema and Arnold Steinberg’s exceptional vision to the market this year. Informed by rare intelligence, dedicated research and a meticulous eye, the collection represents a pioneering spirit that perceived beyond existing boundaries and forged its own version of art history.”
Highlights from the collection will travel to Hong Kong, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas and Chicago this spring, before returning to New York for a dedicated exhibition in Sotheby’s new galleries in New York.
H. ARNOLD STEINBERG
Canadian businessman Arnold Steinberg joined his family’s business Steinberg Inc. in 1958. He held various executive positions including Chief Financial Officer and Chief Administrative Officer over the course of three decades. In addition to his very considerable business and philanthropic achievements, particularly in the fields of healthcare and education, he was a major patron of young Canadian artists: by the mid-1980s over 1,500 works by Contemporary artists hung in Steinberg offices in Québec and Ontario.
Blema Steinberg joined McGill University’s Department of Political Science in 1961, eventually earning the title of full professor and later Professor Emerita upon her retirement in 2001. Arnold was a longtime supporter of McGill as well and served as Chancellor beginning in 2009. In addition to their passion for collecting, the Steinbergs were devoted philanthropists, including their work through the Blema & Arnold Steinberg Family Foundation.
New York, May 2019
The Steinberg Collection is led by two transcendent paintings on paper executed by Mark Rothko in 1969 – the final year of his life.Untitled (Red and Burgundy Over Blue) (estimate $9/12 million) and Untitled (Red on Red) (pictured left, estimate $7/10 million) are both dazzling embodiments of the artist’s legendary Color Field compositions, which are distinguished as rare, exquisitely vibrant examples from a period of the artist’s fabled career that was largely characterized by a predominantly somber palette. Both works exemplify Rothko’s work in a medium that bore an increasingly profound significance in the twilight years of his oeuvre when, tirelessly seeking to broaden the horizons of his prodigious practice, he focused his energies upon exploring the absolute limits of painting on paper.
A mesmerizing mirage of chromatic complexity, Untitled #12 from 1981 ranks among Agnes Martin’s most profound realizations of the sublime (estimate $4/6 million). The work hails from a seminal period of Martin’s prodigious artistic production: its quality of chromatic subtlety and variance, as well as its paint application captured in the full scale 72-by-72 inch format renders Untitled #12 an especially unique example among the set of paintings that emanated from Martin’s move to New Mexico in 1968, most of which are populated by greys, whites and black.
Two works in the collection by Kenneth Noland include his East-West from 1963 (estimate $1/1.5 million). The painting belongs to Noland’s body of Chevron paintings, a visually concise series of works that the artist produced for only two years. Hailing from the latter portion of this period, the present work exhibits a sense of proportion and chromatic sophistication that is exemplary of Noland at his most developed and in control. The collection also offers Noland’s Blue (Target) from 1960, an important example of the artist’s signature target pictures (estimate $2/3 million).
An awe-inspiring panoramic work expanding over nine feet across, Helen Frankenthaler’s Newfoundland from 1975 is an unattested masterpiece from the artist’s highly acclaimed period of production in the mid-1970s, and one of two works by the artist that highlight the Steinberg Collection (estimate $1.5/2 million). Frankenthaler’s signature form of abstraction was achieved by diluting her paint, allowing it to completely soak into the fibers of the raw unprimed canvas. The thinned-paint literally fused with its support, drawing focus to the canvas as an integral part of the art itself – and changing the course of art history in the process, influencing generations of artists including Kenneth Noland, Morris Louis and Jules Olitski – all of whom are represented in the Collection.
IMPRESSIONIST & MODERN ART
New York, May 2019
None of the post-war artistic developments represented in the Steinberg Collection could have been possible without the foundations set in place during the preceding half century, and the collection provides a privileged panorama of cross-generational correspondence. Cornerstone exemplars of the Modernist discourse are represented in works by such titans as Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky, Alberto Giacometti, Jean Arp, Georges Braque, and Fernand Léger, which punctuate the evolution of figurative art advanced by the École de Paris in the first few decades of the 20th century.
IMPORTANT CHINESE ART
A compelling corollary to the Color Field paintings at the heart of the Steinberg Collection, their exceptional group of Chinese monochrome ceramics, primarily hailing from the Qing Dynasty, will be offered in our Important Chinese Art auction during the Asia Week sales series this September. Whether formed by nature or produced by man, the subtle tonalities of monochromatic art have long been celebrated within traditional Chinese aesthetics and have since inspired generations of international artists, collectors and aesthetes. The shared aesthetic of clean lines and variations of color, with a particular focus on the purity of color and silhouette, makes this group an integral part of the Steinbergs’ intellectual pursuits.