Christie's to offer The Collection of Morton and Barbara Mandel

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Christie's to offer The Collection of Morton and Barbara Mandel
Pablo Picasso, Femme debout, 1927. © Christie's Images Ltd 2020.

NEW YORK, NY.- This December, Christie’s will present The Collection of Morton and Barbara Mandel, sold to benefit the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation as a central highlight of its 20th Century marquee week in New York. A dedicated grouping of more than 80 lots will open the specially titled Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale, featuring The Collection of Morton and Barbara Mandel on December 3. This selection includes important examples by artists including Georg Baselitz, George Condo, Willem de Kooning, Jean Dubuffet, Adolph Gottleib, Roy Lichtenstein, Agnes Martin, Louise Nevelson, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Ad Reinhardt, David Smith and Cy Twombly. Leading the Collection is Pablo Picasso’s Femme debout, 1927, which will be offered in the major 20th Century: Hong Kong to New York auction on December 2. The proceeds from this collection will benefit The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation.

Morton Mandel’s tireless push for excellence was present in all that he did, from business and collecting to philanthropy. It is therefore a fitting tribute to his life that this remarkable grouping of works will be sold to continue the Foundation’s mission – “The hallmark of our philanthropy is our commitment to invest in people with the values, ability and passion to change the world.”

Bonnie Brennan, Chairman, Business Development, Christie’s, remarked: “Leadership and the development of great leaders has always been central to the philanthropic efforts of Mr. and Mrs. Mandel and the Mandel Foundation. Mr. Mandel was renowned for his focus on people and his belief that it is “It’s all about who”. Today the impact of the Mandel family giving is felt by the institutions they supported, the leaders Mr. Mandel helped cultivate, and extends to fields such as leadership development, humanities, Jewish life and urban engagement.

We are delighted that the proceeds of this sale at Christie’s will continue to support their passionate commitment to improving society and the lives of people around the world and will pay proper tribute to the transformational philanthropic leaders that Mandel’s have been since 1953.”

In 1940, after Morton Mandel’s first year in college, he and his brothers, Jack and Joseph Mandel, purchased what was left of their uncle’s auto supply company for $900, calling it Premier Automotive Supply. Although the company initially struggled, through dedication and focus on customer service, their humble business venture ultimately became one of the country’s leading distributors of electrical equipment under Morton Mandel’s leadership as chairman and CEO.

While Morton Mandel’s career remains extraordinary, it is the vast philanthropic contribution that he made with his wife Barbara Mandel – and in partnership with his brothers – that defines his legacy. Few have so wholeheartedly devoted themselves to promoting the advancement of leadership development, education and the humanities. In both his personal giving and through the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, Morton Mandel impacted innumerable lives both at home and abroad. Remembering the anti-Semitism experienced by his parents and brothers in Poland, Mandel was been particularly involved in Jewish causes across the globe.

Morton Mandel found his match in Barbara Mandel, a devoted community member and national philanthropic leader in her own right. Mrs. Mandel served in countless leadership positions in major nonprofit organizations in the United States and Israel.

In fine art, Morton and Barbara Mandel discovered an inexhaustible font of insight and inspiration; a source of wisdom, comfort, and overwhelming beauty. Through self-erudition and personal friendships with esteemed dealers and curators, the couple steadily built one of the United States’ preeminent private collections. Together, Morton and Barbara Mandel honed their connoisseurly eye for fine art, assembling a world-class private collection of painting, sculpture, and works on paper.

The Mandel’s fervent pursuit of art and ideas resulted in a collection that was at once historically important and personally resonant. As Morton Mandel’s private collection evolved, so did his benefaction of cultural institutions and arts education. Even in his nineties, Morton Mandel worked to realize the Mandel brothers’ philanthropic vision.

Offered in the 20th Century: Hong Kong to New York auction, the top lot of the collection is Pablo Picasso’s Femme debout, 1927. Painted in the summer of 1927, Pablo Picasso’s monumental Femme debout is one of a series of works described by Christian Zervos as “tableaux magiques”. Created between 1926 and 1930, this group saw Picasso fuse a hybrid of influences, both internal and external—tribal art, Surrealism, his cubist syntax, as well as the passionate yet turbulent love affairs that defined his private life of this time—working like a magician to conjure a new, radical and expressive mode of representing the human form, one that harnessed a novel emotional power that was at times captivating, disturbing, threatening, or moving. Seen together, these works are regarded as among the most revolutionary depictions of the figure since the artist’s cubist years. Picasso kept this striking painting in his collection for the rest of his life, after which it passed to his daughter, the jewelry designer, Paloma Picasso.

Highlighting the works being sold in the Post-War and Contemporary Art Day sale is Ad Reinhardt’s Red Painting, 1950 (estimate: $700,000-1,000,000), which stands as an exemplary work of the artist’s introspective and prolific career. Impressive in scale and resonant in color, Red Painting demonstrates Reinhardt’s highly celebrated oeuvre. The painting deeply reflects Reinhardt's signature works of delicate monochrome abstract paintings, which he started in the 1950’s and would then grow to be a major part of his career. Red Painting would be considered a very early and incredibly rare works in Reinhardt’s oeuvre. Painted in a radiant and dramatic red tone with hints of blue, Red Painting holds the unique characteristics that serves as a hallmark of Reinhardt’s most celebrated style.

Also underscoring the Day Sale selection is Jackson Pollock’s Untitled, 1953 (estimate: $1.2-1.8 million), an immaculate and rare example of the artist’s late practice, which is one of only three drawings done on Howell paper in the four years leading up to the artist’s death. This drawing was created following a crucial period of reflection and reconsideration by Pollock about his work. Marking a return to some of Pollock’s imagery and graphic style of the early 1940s, the present lot emphasizes the artist’s mastery over his practice. Balancing between chaos and control, the work “oscillates between abstraction and a renewed figuration; ink and paint; paper and unprimed canvas; a bridging language with the capacity to ‘disturb’ as much as soothe” (S. Straine, “Beyond Work: Pollock Drawing,” in G. Delahunty, ed., Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots, exh. cat., Tate Liverpool and Dallas Museum of Art, 2015)

There will be a live exhibition at Christie’s Rockefeller Plaza galleries beginning November 20th, which will be open to all by appointment.

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