Freeman's
Alex Katz (American, b.1927), Gray Day, Sold for $27,500

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Anne Henry
Vice President | Senior Specialist

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Published: 21 September 2014

Acquiring with an Exceptional Eye | A Contemporary Art & Jewelry Collection

This November, Freeman’s will offer outstanding items from the estate of a discerning collector whose sense of style, sophisticated taste, and remarkable eye became tools in acquiring both an impressive group of jewelry and an array of art by some of the most important American artists of the late twentieth-century.

The jewelry of this collection is not limited to  one style, but rather includes pieces covering many categories, ranging from classic  gemstones to uniquely fashionable jewelry, as well as some period pieces—an eclectic array to be certain. The “carats” or weight of these gems are well-represented by the “traditional” and include all of “the usual suspects.” Sapphires and a couple of show-stopping diamonds of notable size top the list, including an 8.60 carat oval-shape diamond, as well as a 7.50 carat marquise-shape.

The instincts and approach to collecting contemporary art was just as informed as this collector’s jewelry collecting, and includes several works by two artists who have enjoyed much local, national, and international success. Harry Bertoia and Alex Katz were represented by Philadelphia’s venerable Makler and Mangel Galleries respectively, and most of Philadelphia’s top collections of contemporary art include works by either or both of these artists. Harry Bertoia,who came to Pennsylvania in the  1950’s to work for Knoll, is an artist who was first recognized as a designer of quintessential mid-century chairs for the venerable design firm. His success allowed him to redirect his artistic inclinations toward sculpture, and he was soon creating the type of works represented in this collection. Tonal sculptures creating the auditory environment, Sonambient, are represented here, along with several of Bertoia’s Bush, Willow, and Wedge sculptures. Presented as a group, they cover  much of the span of the artist’s mid-century, design-influenced sculptures and will present as a special section of the Modern & Contemporary Art auction catalogue.

Alex Katz, one of the best known Pop artists of the 20th-century, was shown consistently at the Mangel Gallery in the 1980’s and 90’s. Freeman’s has offered many steel cutouts and prints purchased there by other local collectors with great success. In 2011, Freeman’s achieved a world record price for Orange Hat, which sold for $22,500 against a $4,000-6,000 estimate. Fittingly, items from this distinguished collection will be displayed concurrently in the joint jewelry and fine art auction exhibitions beginning October 29th at Freeman's downtown Philadelphia location.

This extraordinary jewelry and contemporary art, acquired and enjoyed by one collector for many years, was undoubtedly a labor of love—a collection of exquisite pieces, all amassed with care and an exceptional eye.

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