“Pure Drawing: Seven Centuries of Art from the Gray Collection” at the Art Institute of Chicago

Highlighting one of the most important gifts in the history of the Prints and Drawings department at the Art Institue of Chicago, Pure Drawing: Seven Centuries of Art from the Gray Collection brings together more than 100 works from celebrated art dealer Richard Gray and art historian Mary L. Gray. Assembled over nearly 50 years, the Gray Collection encapsulates a long and distinguished history of artmaking dedicated to the medium of drawing. From January 25 to May 10, 2020, Pure Drawing documents that endeavor, showcasing one of the most immediate, exploratory, and intimate of art forms.

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. The Head of a Young Man in Profile to the Left, 1749-50. The Art Institute of Chicago, gift of Richard and Mary L. Gray.

Showcasing one of the finest private collections of its kind, Pure Drawing traverses 700 years of artists’ myriad attempts to understand, reflect, and interpret the world through drawing.

Prominent Chicago gallery owner Richard Gray and his wife Mary L. Gray were longtime benefactors and supporters of the city’s cultural institutions. Motivated by their deep sense of civic responsibility and longstanding relationship with the Art Institute of Chicago, they have given 91 works from the collection to the museum. The exhibition Pure Drawing celebrates their extraordinary legacy. With a deep and sustained interest in the variety of ways artists put pen or pencil to paper, the Grays built a collection that is exceptional in both quality and breadth. Focused on key periods and places—fifteenth to eighteenth-century Italy; seventeenth to twentieth-century France; seventeenth-century Holland; and twentieth and twenty-first century America—they sought out works defined by excellence and boldness of execution. The most celebrated names appear throughout: Peter Paul Rubens, François Boucher, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Canaletto, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, Georges Seurat, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Willem de Kooning, and Jackson Pollock.

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Extending from Renaissance drawings to works of art brut and beyond, Pure Drawing encompasses the richness of drawing techniques and media in the Western tradition, from black and red chalk, graphite, conté crayon, wash, and pastels to charcoal, watercolor, collage, and pen and ink. Although landscapes, still lifes, and the occasional abstraction are to be found in their collection, the Grays gave prominence to one of the great subjects in Western art: the human figure. A few examples give a sense of the scope of the exhibition. Tiepolo’s masterly red-and-white chalk drawing on Venetian blue laid paper, The Head of a Young Man in Profile to the Left (1749/50), conveys an immediacy of expression and empathetic rapport that suggest drawing from life. Jacques-Louis David’s Nude Soldiers Gesticulating with Their Weapons (1796/97) is a powerfully executed preparatory work for his iconic painting The Intervention of the Sabine Women (1799). Edgar Degas’s Study for a Portrait of Monsieur and Madame Louis Rouart (1904) evidences the artist’s relentless experimentation with the medium of pastel. Picasso’s Man with a Clarinet (1911) represents the consummation of Analytical Cubism, pulling apart and reassembling the figure in order to capture its totality.

Richard and Mary’s unerring eye for drawings of extraordinary quality was legendary, and they demonstrated over and over again a level of collecting sophistication rarely matched,” said Kevin Salatino, Anne Vogt Fuller and Marion Titus Searle Chair and Curator of Prints and Drawings, and co-curator of the exhibition. “The importance of their gift to the Art Institute cannot be exaggerated, and reflects their abiding love for the museum and the city of Chicago—and for the medium of drawing,” Salatino added.

Christie’s Announces Details of Exhibitions, Sales, Tickets and Catalogues for the Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller

May 1-11 Online Sale | May 8, 9 & 10 Saleroom Auctions

First look at complete collection of more than 1,000 items of decorative art and 550 works of fine art:

  • Two evening sales of European, American and Latin American masterpieces
  • Online sales of Fine and Decorative Arts across eight collecting themes
  • All estate proceeds to benefit philanthropy

Public highlights exhibitions continue around the globe

  • Los Angeles April 6 –12
  • Beijing April 6 – 7
  • Shanghai April 10 –11
  • New York April 28 – May 8

Christie’s announces final details of the most anticipated art world event of the spring season: the sale of the magnificent Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller. All of the estate proceeds will be directed to a dozen philanthropies Peggy and David Rockefeller supported during their lifetimes, for the benefit of continuing scientific research, higher education, support for the arts, sustainable economic development, and land conservation initiatives, among others.christies_logo_black-hr_mdtv71b

New confirmed details include the complete schedule of live and online sales, illustrated catalogs available online, remaining US and Asia highlights tours and locations, and ticket information to attend the special extended public exhibition of the Collection at Rockefeller Center in New York from April 28 – May 8. The global tour and exhibitions are presented in partnership with VistaJet. In total, the Collection is expected to realize in excess of $500 million. Before now, the most valuable collection ever previously offered at auction was the Collection of Yves Saint Laurent et Pierre Bergé in 2009 at Christie’s Paris, which achieved more than US$400 million.

The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller comprises approximately 1,550 auction lots, including one of the largest and most important collections of decorative arts to come to market in decades. Christie’s will offer 900 lots via live saleroom auctions at its Rockefeller Center site on May 8, 9 and 10. A companion online sale – which opens for bidding worldwide on May 1– will feature an additional 650 lots organized across eight collecting themes, with estimates ranging from $100 to $10,000. Through this unique integration of sale channels, Christie’s brings traditional decorative arts to the forefront, leveraging a sophisticated digital marketing approach and ‘guest-stylist’ partnerships with top tastemakers, interior designers, and social media influencers.

Marc Porter, Christie’s Chairman, Americas stated: “This rich and diverse collection of fine and decorative art is unified by Peggy and David Rockefeller’s love of beauty and their unerring eye for exceptional quality and craftsmanship in design. The size and scope of this great collection has inspired us to innovate new approaches to our traditional sale model and leverage our world-class online sale platform as only Christie’s can. The result is a dynamic week of saleroom auctions, including not one but two Evening Sales of masterworks from European, American and Latin American artists and a stellar offering of Decorative Arts across a range of categories. Our online sale, which is organized along the themes and motifs that resonated most with Peggy and David Rockefeller, brings this Collection to life in a fresh and exciting way, and is designed to make it both easy and enjoyable for collectors from all around the world to participate in this singular philanthropic event.

Following the main auction week, Christie’s will offer a selection of 19 lots of jewelry from the family collection as a highlight of its Magnificent Jewels sale in New York on June 12. The jewelry will be exhibited as part of the extended exhibition in New York and the highlights tour to Los Angeles.

In keeping with Peggy and David Rockefeller’s wishes, Estate proceeds from the Collection sales at Christie’s will be directed to the following philanthropies, which the Rockefellers supported throughout their lifetimes: American Farmland Trust, Americas Society/Council of the Americas, Council on Foreign Relations, the David Rockefeller Fund, Harvard University, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Mount Desert Land and Garden Preserve, the Museum of Modern Art, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Rockefeller University, and The Stone Barns Restoration Corporation – Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, among others.

LOS ANGELES TOUR

West Coast collectors and jewelry enthusiasts will get a first look at the Collection highlights between April 6 and 12 when Christie’s brings a selection of masterpieces and Rockefeller family jewels to its flagship West Coast gallery in Beverly Hills. The touring exhibition was curated with the tastes and interests of Christie’s clients in mind, with rare works by American artists Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Hopper, and Willem de Kooning exhibited alongside masterpieces by Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, and Paul Gauguin. In addition, Christie’s LA will unveil Diego Rivera’s rarely-exhibited large-scale masterwork, The Rivals, painted in 1931 aboard the ship carrying Rivera and Frida Kahlo to New York. A collection of jewelry owned by Peggy Rockefeller will be included in the Los Angeles previews, featuring signed pieces by Van Cleef & Arpels, Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co., and Raymond Yard, among others.

Porter further added: “This rich and diverse collection of fine and decorative art is unified by Peggy and David Rockefeller’s love of beauty and their unerring eye for exceptional quality and craftsmanship in design. The size and scope of this great collection have inspired us to innovate new approaches to our traditional sale model and leverage our world-class online sale platform as only Christie’s can. The result is a dynamic week of saleroom auctions, including not one but two Evening Sales of masterworks from European, American and Latin American artists and a stellar offering of Decorative Arts across a range of categories. Our online sale, which is organized along the themes and motifs that resonated most with Peggy and David Rockefeller, brings this Collection to life in a fresh and exciting way, and is designed to make it both easy and enjoyable for collectors from all around the world to participate in this singular philanthropic event. Continue reading