Phillips to offer property from the collection of California philanthropist Robin Quist Gates

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Phillips to offer property from the collection of California philanthropist Robin Quist Gates
Wayne Thiebaud, Candy Apples, 1987. Estimate: $30,000 – 50,000. Image courtesy of Phillips.

NEW YORK, NY.- Phillips announced the sale of property from the estate Robin Quist Gates, the Northern California native who spent the past four decades building a museum-quality collection of 20th century art. The collection features works by Milton Avery, David Hockney, William Turnbull, Henri Matisse, Deborah Butterfield, and Yves Klein, as well as Bay Area artists Paul Wonner, Theophilus Brown, David Park, Richard Diebenkorn and Wayne Thiebaud. Ms. Gates also served her arts community in countless ways over the course of her lifetime. She sat on the board of trustees at SFMoMA and donated artwork to institutions close to her heart and home, including Stanford University and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Works from her collection will be offered in Phillips’ Day Sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art on 24 June, followed by the Editions auctions in New York in October 2021.

Sophia Kinell, Regional Representative, San Francisco, said, “From modern masters Milton Avery, Henry Matisse and William Turnbull, to the colorful compositions by California based artists David Hockney, Paul Wonner and Wayne Thiebaud, there is an undeniable through line that is uniquely hers and bridges a century of art history. Ms. Gates’ vivacity was reflected by the artworks she collected—colorful, inventive and bold. It is our honor to share these important works with our community of contemporary collectors.”

Leading the group are David Hockney’s House Palm and Pool, two paintings on paper from 1982, which exude the California Cool for which the artist is so renowned. Created soon after Hockney bought his Hollywood Hills house, each presents a subtly different vignette of the artist’s lush backyard, rendered with the vibrant color and distilled lines that call Henri Matisse to mind. These works capture Hockney’s love affair with the city of Los Angeles, best epitomized in the subject matter of the swimming pool ever since his first visit in the 1960s. Ten years after completing the iconic painting Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) in 1972, Hockney’s fascination with the motif continued—here notably reveling in the immediacy of painting with gouache on paper. As much as these works represent a continuation of Hockney’s early work, they also mark the important inflection point ushered in by his purchase of his Hollywood Hills home, which would become a favored subject across the decades. With these works, Hockney presents us with intimate snapshots of the calm yet vibrantly painted sanctuary he was able to build in the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles. The House Palm and Pool series presents similar views of Hockney’s residence captured by the artist from a slightly elevated position en plein air from his terrace. The works brilliantly capture our everyday experience of seeing, where the eye wanders and the body shifts, gaining different vantages of the same scene from one moment to the next.

A California native, Robin Quist Gates, known affectionately as “Binnie” to her family and friends, was born in Palo Alto and only spent a short period of time during her 93 years living outside the Bay Area. In 1948, she married George Quist, who in 1968 founded Hambrecht & Quist—a pioneering investment bank focused on technology and responsible for the IPOs of Apple, Genentech and others. She later married Ned (Milo) Gates, devoted philanthropist and president of San Francisco–based Swinerton Builders—a construction firm behind many landmark buildings across the western United States. In the early 1980s, Ms. Gates discovered the work of artist Henry Moore, which began her journey into collecting. After visiting Marlborough Gallery in New York and later the artist’s studio in England, she made her first acquisition—Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 9 from 1968, now in the permanent collection of the de Young Museum. The more she learned about art history, the more she learned about what she loved and so her collection grew to include some of the most influential names in the art historical canon. A devoted philanthropist, Ms. Gates’ generosity knew no bounds. Over the course of her lifetime, she gave back to her community in countless ways, from serving on the board of trustees at SFMoMA, to gifting significant works to the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University—where her father was the longstanding track coach and she spent many of her years—and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

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