NEW YORK, NY. - Christie’s announced the upcoming sale of Property from the Collection of Mona Ackerman, which will be featured in a series of sales commencing with the Evening Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art on May 8. Dr. Mona Ackerman was a renowned psychologist, whose column in The Huffington Post earned her a devoted readership, and her remarkable collection speaks to the intelligence and insight she brought to her lifelong study of the human condition. It is an eclectic and far-reaching collection, including Modern works by Pablo Picasso, Egon Schiele and Alberto Giacometti, as well as works from the Renaissance and Enlightenment, collected over three decades. The windows of her Fifth Avenue apartment overlooked the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and she used them to display three magnificent white marble sculptures that playfully echoed the breadth of art history represented in that institution—a Roman torso of Apollo from the 1st-2nd century A.D.; Agostino Fasolato’s spectacular The Triumph Of Truth Over Calumny, circa 1725; and Jean Arp’s Entre lys et défense from the 1950s. The apartment was designed by Peter Marino, in a style befitting a true connoisseur and tastemaker.
The collection includes paintings, works on paper and sculptures, as well as furniture and decorative works of art, and will be featured in the following sales: Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale and Works On Paper Sale on May 8-9, the Antiquities sale on June 6, and The Connoisseur’s Eye: Important European Decorative Arts and Sculpture sale on June 7. Details of fall sales will be announced at a later date.
Paul Provost, Deputy Chairman, comments, “Dr. Ackerman’s collection reveals her exquisite taste and wide interests. As a passionate collector and president of her family’s foundation, she brought a keen awareness of the mission of collecting and philanthropy, which she shared in a course she developed and taught on the psychology of philanthropy at New York University. Her collection was striking and elegant, emanating the grace and passionate enthusiasm for life, for which Ackerman was well-known.”
Featured in the May 8 Evening Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art is Pablo Picasso’s majestic Mandoline et portée de musique, painted in the first half of 1923 (estimate: $8-12 million). This sophisticated still-life painting, with its unified, almost monochromatic palette of deep reds and rich browns, derives from Picasso’s sustained exploration of the cubist idiom in the 1920s. Throughout the 1910s and 1920s Picasso tirelessly explored the pictorial possibilities offered by juxtaposing two still-life elements; a stringed instrument and a piece of tableware. With their fragmented forms and flattened planes, and sand infused surface, these compositions represent a continuation of Picasso’s cubist explorations of the previous decade, and his concern with formal arrangements.
Also featured in the Evening Sale is the magnificent towering marble sculpture, Entre lys et défense, executed by Jean Arp (1886-1966) in 1958 (estimate: $1,200,000-1,800,000). The title Arp invented for this sculpture, Entre lys et defense, “Lily or Elephant’s Tusk,” describes an odd commingling of two opposing notions, conjuring the sensuous idea of the smooth curves of a fragile lily, and by contrast, the hard defensive point of an elephant’s ivory tusk. The sculptor’s close association with the Surrealist movement during the 1920s reinforced his organic approach to abstract form, and the process of evolution is a key element in Arp’s sculpture. He sought to achieve a transformation where human and natural elements converge and then venture forth to assume still further formal identities that create a vast network of poetical visual metaphors.
A Roman marble torso of Apollo wonderfully exemplifies Mona Ackerman’s commitment to forming a cohesive collection that spanned centuries and cultures. The superb lifesized sculpture of the god, which will be the cover lot of Christie’s sale of Antiquities on June 6, is the quintessential ancient work of art and embodiment of collecting tastes since the Renaissance (estimate: $200,000-300,000). Dating to the Roman Imperial Period, circa 1st century B.C.-1st century A.D., Apollo is depicted nude, his sensual stance and position of the arms suggesting that this is a version of Apollo Kitharoidos, which would have originally depicted the god holding a kithara, or 7-stringed lyre, in his left arm and a plectrum in his right.
Completing the selection of sculptures offered from the collection is a white marble group of the Triumph Of Truth Over Calumny by Agostino Fasolato (1714-1787) circa 1725, which will be included in The Connoisseur’s Eye: Important European Decorative Arts and Sculpture Sale, and feature as the cover lot (estimate: $200,000-300,000). This spectacular composition is a tour-de-force of marble carving. A confection of towering figures representing Truth triumphing over Calumny, this sophisticated design seems about to topple from its own weight, but the sense of fragility is illusory as it is, literally, set in stone. For decades this iconic sculpture was thought to have been by Francesco Bertos, who pioneered these types of compositions, but it has been convincingly re-attributed to Agostino Fasolato, who was a master carver following closely the ground-breaking work of Bertos, and who eventually surpassed Bertos in the refinement of his carved details.
The collection also offers a notable grouping of Impressionist & Modern Works on Paper, which will be sold on May 9, and reflect Dr. Ackerman’s keen power of observation and appreciation of quality. Featured in this sale is Portrait of a Child (Anton Peschka, Jr.) by Egon Schiele (1890-1918) (estimate: $300,000-500,000). Drawn in 1918, this drawing depicts Schiele's 4-year-old nephew Anton Peschka Jr., who was the first child of Schiele's close friend and fellow artist Anton Peschka and Schiele's beloved younger sister Melanie. Children feature prominently in Schiele's art, and he studied and drew his nephew on numerous occasions between 1914 and 1918, even making preparations for a full-scale oil portrait of him.
Also included in the Works on Paper sale is Homme Assis (John Rewald) by Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966), which was drawn in 1960 (estimate: $300,000-500,000). Giacometti forged friendships with many significant artists, curators and authors, and John Rewald was the leading scholar of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism of his time and was also the authority on Paul Cézanne, whose art Giacometti never ceased to admire. In his portrait of Rewald, Giacometti has focused on a frenetic mass of lines that form the densely worked head. Like the surface details in so many of his sculptures, which were picked out with a sharp implement, this face has essentially been “sculpted” using other means, in this case pencil.