Sotheby's to Sell Modern & Contemporary Art from the William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation & Family Collections
Sotheby’s to Offer Modern & Contemporary Masterworks from the
WILLIAM LOUIS-DREYFUS FOUNDATION & FAMILY COLLECTIONS
Beginning with Sotheby’s November Auctions of
Impressionist & Modern and Contemporary Art,
And Continuing Through 2020 & Beyond
Showcasing the Work of 19th and 20th Century Masters, Including:
Jean Dubuffet | Joan Miró | Wassily Kandinsky | Claes Oldenberg
Helen Frankenthaler | George Grosz | & More
Assembled Over 50 Years by the Celebrated
Philanthropist, Businessman and Collector
A Portion of the Proceeds from Foundation Collection Sales to
Benefit Harlem Children’s Zone
Public Exhibitions Open 1 November on York Avenue
NEW YORK, 29 October 2019 – Sotheby’s is pleased to announce that works from the William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation and Family Collections will highlight Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art and Contemporary Art Day Auctions in New York this November, and will continue to feature across Sotheby’s global auctions through 2020 and beyond.
Amassed over a period of more than 50 years and spanning time periods and continents, The William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation and Family Collections are a testament to Louis-Dreyfus’s aesthetic intuition, curiosity and passion for collecting on a personal level. The Foundation Collection alone contains more than 3,500 works of art and is housed in a museum-quality space in Mount Kisco, New York.
The Louis-Dreyfus Collections showcase artists with an interest in political commentary and social comedy, such as George Grosz, Honoré Daumier and Raymond Mason, as well as those working in the realm of amorphous and non-representative art, such as Jean Dubuffet, Joan Miró and Wassily Kandinsky. Characterized by its recontextualization of known artists while giving voice to those who were unjustly underrepresented, including a focus on self-taught artists—the William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation and Family Collections stand among the most progressive and wide-ranging in the United States.
ABOUT WILLIAM LOUIS-DREYFUS
Born in 1932 outside Paris to the Frenchman Pierre Louis-Dreyfus and the American-born Dolores Neubauer, who was of Mexican descent, William Louis-Dreyfus fled Nazi-occupied France and moved to the United States, where he attended Duke University in 1954 and later graduated from the university’s law school. Louis-Dreyfus went on to practice law at Dewey Ballantine in New York City, and from 1969 until his retirement in 2006 he was the chief executive officer of the Louis Dreyfus Group, and international organization of diversified companies that had been wholly owned by the Louis-Dreyfus family since its foundation in 1851. Among his accomplishments while leading the company, Louis-Dreyfus transformed the business into one of the leading global commodities trading platforms.
In addition to his passion for collecting art, Louis-Dreyfus was also a published poet and essayist, as well as an avid lover of nature. From 1998 to 2008, he served as chairman of the Poetry Society of America. At his home in Mount Kisco, he planted hundreds of trees and often hosted the public to enjoy the beautiful ground and gardens that for him were a source of inspiration and awe.
An ardent defender of social justice, Louis-Dreyfus supported numerous philanthropic and charitable causes, focused on improving the lives of people of color. In 2013, Louis-Dreyfus established the William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation to educate the public about the importance of art and to increase public awareness of self-taught and emerging artists. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Foundation works will be donated to the Harlem Children’s Zone, a pioneering nonprofit organization dedicated to ending generational poverty in Harlem.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE IMPRESSIONIST & MODERN ART DAY SALE
Auction 13 November
The Louis-Dreyfus Collections are highlighted by a comprehensive group of works on paper by Wassily Kandsinky. The works not only exemplify their respective periods, but also epitomize the qualities of expression for which Kandinsky’s oeuvre is celebrated, affording an overview of the artist’s role in the birth of Abstraction and his life-long experimentation with different modes of artistic representation.
Composed of a dynamic combination of geometric and organic forms, Hartweich (Hard Soft), No. 390 (estimate $500/700,000) was created during a time of great significance within Kandinsky’s personal and creative life. During the course of his stay at Bauhaus (1922-1932), Kandinsky's work gradually moved away from the free flowing, irregular lines and shapes of his earlier oeuvre towards a more geometric form of abstraction. His watercolors and paintings of this period are dominated by circles, triangles and straight lines rather than undefined shapes and loosely applied paint. This shift to a more geometric language reflects the influence of Russian Constructivist art, to which he was exposed during the war years spent in Moscow.
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