Sotheby’s has just announced another record sale for next May 16: the $75m collection of American billionaires, as well as great philanthropist and collectors, Morton and Barbara Mandel, will be offered in New York, to benefit the Mandel family’s foundation.
Some of the greatest names of 20th century art, from Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism to Minimalism and Pop, will be included in the sale, as Joan Miró, Mark Rothko, Roy Lichtenstein, David Smith and Donald Judd.
A selection of highlights from the collection will travel the world this spring, including exhibitions in Hong Kong, London and Los Angeles. The full collection will be on public view in Sotheby’s New York galleries in an extended and dedicated exhibition opening on 1 May.
The Mandel Collection
Once described as the “epitome of the American Dream”, Mr. Morton Mandel rose from humble beginnings in Cleveland, Ohio to tremendous wealth.
It was the 1940, when Mr. Mandel and his brothers, Jack and Joseph, used their savings to purchase their uncle’s business, Premier Automotive Supply — an auto-parts distribution company that became rooted in providing superior customer service. By 1964, their company was listed on the
New York Stock Exchange, and renamed Premier Industrial Corporation and had already grown to encompass other acquired companies. Equipped with his decades-long career success and wealth of business acumen, in 2012 Mr. Mandel published his book, “It’s All About Who” – a roadmap to Mandel’s pioneering business strategy and humanitarian ethos.
However he never forgot the ethic values of solidarity, that especially the poverty and humble origin often teach, so Mr. Mandel’s professional achievements have been always matched by his unwavering dedication to a number of important charitable causes. In particular, in 1953, Mr. Mandel and his brothers founded the Mandel Foundation, whose mission is “to contribute to the flourishing of the United States and Israel as just, inclusive and compassionate societies, and to improve the quality of life in both countries.”
Therefore the sale now of all their collection and the charitable plans for all its proceeds, are just a natural extensions of two lives devoted to community enrichment, faith and relentless pursuit of excellence.
Guided by their superb taste and advice from the best in the field (as Leo Castelli, for instance) the Mandels approached collecting with the same diligence and thoughtfulness that led them to achieve great success in business and philanthropy. As Mr. Mandel has said, he and his wife “collected to enrich their lives” and the result is a powerful and personal collection, which comprised of many of the key artists of the 20th century and has remained largely unseen by the public until now.
“WE NEVER BOUGHT ART BECAUSE IT WAS A ‘GOOD’ INVESTMENT.” – MORTON MANDEL
- Joan Miró, Femme, oiseau, Painted circa 1969 Oil on canvas – Estimate $10/15 million – One of the great masterpieces of Joan Miró’s late career, Femme, oiseau, recalls the work of the abstract expressionists on whom the artist had been a great influence. Dating from circa 1969, the arresting oil is a poetic example of abstraction at its most daring with expressive brushwork instead of the women, stars, birds and moons that had been found in his earlier painting. Miró builds the present composition using a pictorial lexicon of signs and symbols, while still referencing recognizable objects, such as human figures. Working with thick lines and monochromatic spaces as his central compositional elements, Miró fully explored the possibilities of movement within a two dimensional field.
- Barnett Newman,Untitled, 1960 , Brush and ink on paper – Estimate $800,000/1.2 million – A dramatic work-on-paper, one of a limited number of drawings that would inform the artist’s momentous The Stations of the Cross exhibition. The work is an intimate example of the artist’s revolutionary vertical ‘zip’ that would become his central visual motif. Untitled has been exhibited at many of the world’s foremost institutions including The Museum of Modern Art in New York, Tate in London, the Grand Palais and Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, among others.
- Mark Rothko , Untitled, 1969, Oil on paper mounted on canvas – Estimate $7/10 million – This Rothko’s piece an archetypal embodiment of the artist’s legendary color-field compositions and was created the year before his death. While much of Rothko’s late work was characterized by a dark palette, Untitled boasts a ground of brilliant red emerging from serene fields of white and a warm orange. The cloud-like form of gestural white brushwork lends this example a stirring presence, testifying to the immense power of this medium for the artist who, in the twilight years of his career, focused his energies upon exploring the absolute limits of painting on paper. Untitled represents the exquisite culmination of Rothko’s career-long pursuit of aesthetic transcendence through the conflation of pure color and light.
- Willem de Kooning, Untitled VI, 1978 – Oil on canvas $8/12 million – Untitled VI dates from the watershed period when de Kooning returned to painting after a period in which he focused on sculpture. The 1978 work explodes with color executed in lush, sensuous paint strokes which denote the artist’s wealth of creativity and great resurgence of confidence in his masterful manipulation of oil paint during this time. De Kooning was one of the abstract expressionists from whom Joan Miró took inspiration for his later works such as Femme, oiseau. The work uses a language of signs and symbols while still referencing human figures to explore the possibilities of movement on canvas. Extraordinarily colorful, Femme, oiseau was completed in Miró’s Palma studio and remained in his collection until his death.
- Roy Lichtenstein, Girl with Still Life in Landscape, 1976 Oil and Magna on canvas – Estimate $7/10 million – With compressed space and symbols echoing many of the movement’s masters, the enduring influence of Surrealism is evident in Roy Lichtenstein’s Girl with Still Life in Landscape from 1976. The cropped comic strip speech bubble floats away from the artist’s iconic blonde girl, who seduces the viewer from within a dream landscape amidst an array of important Surrealist motifs such as the pyramid, moon, starfish, apple, tree and sailboat. A paragon of the artist’s celebrated Surrealist paintings, Girl with Still Life in Landscape is one of few works from this series remaining in private hands, with many held in renowned institutional collections such as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark, among others.
- Donald Judd, Untitled (Stack) , 1993, Brass and green Plexiglas, in 10 parts – Estimate $8/12 million – A pivotal example of Judd’s seminal group of works known as stacks, which he began in 1965. The work was acquired by the Mandels in the same year as its execution and as such has remained unseen by the public. Ten rectangular units of glistening polished brass and green Plexiglas exemplify this iconic format for the artist in a grand scale, with the reduced composition of forms embodying the central tenets of Judd’s artistic practice.
- Andy Warhol, Flowers , 1964 , Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas – Estimate $2/3 million – Mandels first saw Andy Warhol’s Flowers hanging behind Leo Castelli’s desk during a visit to his gallery. The legendary dealer at first refused to sell the work as it was from his personal collection but relented six months later. The 1964 work is a prime example of the Flower series, which was a significant departure towards the abstract both aesthetically and thematically for Warhol following the Death and Disaster series of the early 1960s. Executed in an intensely blue palette crisply rendered against a brilliant green background, Flowers is an exceptionally vibrant example from this renowned body of work.