The Ginny Williams Collection Joins Sotheby's June Auctions in New York
Groundbreaking Women Artists of the 20th Century to Lead THE GINNY WILLIAMS COLLECTION At Sotheby’s New York
Offering 450+ Works Assembled Across Decades By the Trailblazing Dealer, Collector, Friend and Champion of Women Artists
Together Estimated to Sell for More Than $50 Million
2020 Sales Series to Feature:
THE GINNY WILLIAMS COLLECTION EVENING SALE Works by Joan Mitchell, Louise Bourgeois, Lee Krasner, Agnes Martin, Helen Frankenthaler & More Lead a Dedicated Auction This June **
PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE GINNY WILLIAMS COLLECTION July Auction Offering Photographs by Diane Arbus, Dorothea Lange and Tina Modotti, Alongside Iconic Images of the Early-20th Century
NEW YORK, 22 May 2020 – Sotheby’s is honored to announce that we will offer more than 450 works from the celebrated collection of Ginny Williams across a series of sales throughout 2020, beginning with a dedicated evening auction to be held in New York the week of 29 June.
A pioneering collector and gallerist born in rural Virginia in 1927, Ginny Williams was a larger-than-life personality and dynamic force in the contemporary art and photographs communities in Denver, Colorado, where she lived and worked from the late-1950s onwards, as well as on the East Coast, including her time on the boards of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.
As an avid photographer herself, who studied with Austrian-American photojournalist and photographer Ernst Haas, Williams’s collecting journey began with classical figurative photography, which led her to open the Ginny Williams Gallery in Denver in the 1980s. She later developed a passion for collecting Abstract Expressionist and Contemporary art, with a particular focus on the work of pioneering female modernists such as Agnes Martin, Joan Mitchell, Lee Krasner, Alice Neel, and Louise Bourgeois, whose career she impacted as both patron and friend. By the time of her passing in 2019, Williams had assembled the largest collection of works by Bourgeois in private hands, set the auction record for Helen Frankenthaler, and amassed an extensive collection in which the majority of works are by women artists.
Williams’s collection of works by trailblazing female modernists will form the centerpiece of The Ginny Williams Collection Evening Sale, which Sotheby’s will hold the week of 29 June in New York – immediately preceding our Contemporary Art Evening Auction. Additional dedicated auctions include Photographs from The Ginny Williams Collection on 14 July, featuring the work of Diane Arbus, Dorothea Lange and Tina Modotti alongside iconic images of the early-20th century by Edward Weston and Herbert Bayer, and The Ginny Williams Collection Online Sale, open for bidding from 9 – 16 July. Property from the Ginny Williams Collection will highlight a number of various-owner auctions throughout the year, most notably a group of 50+ works offered in our Contemporary Art Day Auction in June.
In total, Sotheby’s sales of The Ginny Williams Collection are estimated to achieve in excess of $50 million.
Amy Cappellazzo, Chairman of Sotheby’s Fine Art Division, commented: “Ginny Williams was a singular woman and collector. With her fiery red hair, intent gaze and radiant Southern charm, she captivated everyone she met. Decisive and impassioned, Ginny was a collector that stood apart from others – she understood artists, and lived and breathed their work into her collection and her life. She was among the last of a rarefied tribe of old school collectors and dealers, a true artist at heart.”
Sotheby’s live evening and day auctions of Contemporary and Impressionist & Modern Art, previously scheduled for May, will be held the week of 29 June, pending the lifting of certain restrictions and confirmation from the relevant authorities that we can proceed. Clients and visitors can expect extra precautions to ensure the safety of our employees and visitors, as well as creative opportunities for those wishing to preview our exhibitions and participate in our auctions – from in-person and virtual appointment viewings to enhanced digital experiences. We will announce a more a detailed schedule in due course, including relevant exhibition plans.
Joan Mitchell’s Straw (estimate $5/7 million) from 1976 is an exceptional embodiment of the paintings that defined the artist’s output in the last decades of her career: larger canvases with expansive gestural brushwork and emboldened color. Towering over nine feet in height, the present work was painted during Mitchell’s time in the provincial French village of Vétheuil. Influenced by the abundant natural beauty of the French countryside, Straw harnesses the sensory imagery of Mitchell’s longtime influencers Claude Monet and Paul Cézanne alongside the abstract idioms of her male contemporaries Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning.
A close friend of Louise Bourgeois, Williams collected the artist’s work in depth, amassing more than 40 sculptures and works on paper spanning more than four decades of her career. Sotheby’s will offer works from this extensive collection across a number of sales in 2020, beginning with five pieces that will highlight The Ginny Williams Evening Sale. The group features Observer (estimate $1.5/2 million) from 1947-49, a stela-like bronze sculpture of human scale from the artist’s Personages series. Despite a high degree of abstraction, Observer exhibits unequivocally anthropomorphic characteristics.
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