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Christie's New York announces sale of Outsider Art
Bill Traylor (circa 1853-1949), Untitled (Man and Woman), 1939-1942. Estimate: $80,000-120,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2022.

NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s announced Outsider Art, a live sale taking place at Rockefeller Center on 3 February 2022. The auction presents masterpieces by the category’s leading artists including Henry Darger, Bill Traylor, and Martín Ramírez among others. The sale includes a fantastic selection of work from private collections sold for philanthropic initiatives; including property from the William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation, sold to benefit the Foundation and the Harlem Children’s Zone, and property from the Collection of William A. Fagaly, sold to benefit Prospect New Orleans’ William A. Fagaly Memorial Fund for Social Impact.

Internationally recognized curator William Fagaly (1938-2021) dedicated his decades-long career at the New Orleans Museum of Art to bolstering the institution’s representation of African art, Outsider art, and contemporary art. He was an early advocate for marginalized artists, making a concerted effort to acquire work within the category to NOMA’s permanent collection. When Fagaly began his career at the museum in the 1960s the museum owned fewer than 10 pieces of African art. It now includes around 600. Fagaly developed close relationships with a number of the artists he collected, most notably Sister Gertrude Morgan and David Butler. An ardent champion of Morgan’s career, Fagaly curated several exhibitions of her work, including 2004 posthumous survey The Tools of Her Ministry: the Art of Sister Gertrude Morgan at the American Folk Art Museum in New York. In 1976, he became the first curator to give Butler an exhibition; Butler was later included in landmark exhibition Black Folk Art in America 1930-1980, which opened at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC in 1982. Walking Stick with Figure, one of Butler’s sculptures illustrated in the Black Folk Art in America catalogue, will be featured in the sale (estimate: $4,000-8,000).

Cara Zimmerman, Christie’s Head of Americana and Outsider Art, remarked: “Bill Fagaly built a collection over many years with a curatorial eye and a masterful grasp of the field of Outsider art. He really was at the forefront of reconsidering preconceived structures of art history, and early on began to recognize many of the Outsider artists we see today as having real power and gravitas. Over the course of his life, Bill developed long-term relationships with quite a few of the artists he collected—David Butler and Sister Gertrude Morgan in particular. He would visit with both of them and get to know them on a personal level, which led to a unique understanding of their artistic practice. Bill’s support played a large role in bringing both Butler and Morgan’s work in front of the collecting public. Our February sale presents collectors with a rare opportunity to acquire some of the earliest and most coveted pieces by these self-taught masters.”

The sale also features incredible artworks from the Gene and Judy Kohn Collection of Outsider Art, including top lot of the sale, Bill Traylor’s Untitled (Man and Woman) (estimate: $80,000-120,000). Boston-based couple Gene and Judy Kohn were early collectors of Outsider art, amassing a wonderful selection of works within the category long before the field became more widely known and appreciated.

Sale highlights will be on exhibition at Christie’s New York galleries at 20 Rockefeller Plaza 13-20 January 2022 and the entire sale will be on view 29 January – 3 February 2022. Viewing is by appointment only.

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