Phillips announces highlights from the April Editions Auction in New York

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Phillips announces highlights from the April Editions Auction in New York
Roy Lichtenstein, Nude Reading, from Nudes series (C. 288), 1994. Estimate: $120,000 - 180,000. Image courtesy of Phillips.



NEW YORK, NY.- Phillips announced highlights from one of the largest Editions and Works on Paper auctions to date. The sale will commence 18 April with works from Property from the Collection of Rosa and Aaron Esman at 11am and with the evening Sale session following at 4pm. The Day Sale sessions will continue on 19 April with Modern at 11am and Post War at 3pm and the final Contemporary session occurring on 20 April at 1pm. The viewing will be open from 10 April – 18 April at 432 Park Avenue with portions of the works coming from impressive private collections, Property from the Collection of Rosa and Aaron Esman, which can be read further here, and others that include a selection of 20th Century icons such as Marcel Duchamp, Roy Lichtenstein, Jean- Michel Basquiat, Vija Celmins, Ed Ruscha, Robert Graham, Francesco Clemente, the complete set of five 1969 Lead Reliefs from Jasper Johns, and many more.

Kelly Troester and Cary Leibowitz, Deputy Chairmen and Co-Heads of Editions, said, “The market for prints and multiples is stronger than ever, evidenced by the record-breaking year we had in 2022, with momentum continuing into our first few sales of the season. We’re now proud to announce one of the most ambitious sales of the category Phillips has ever hosted to date, featuring nearly 450 works of art. The three days of sales run the gamut in terms of the true breadth of 20th and 21st century editions making from Modern icons such as Miró and Matisse to Contemporary titans Johns and Roy Lichtenstein. We are also honored to have been entrusted with such significant esteemed private collections, with the April sale offering Property from the Collection of Rosa and Aaron Esman. Their importance in the field cannot be overstated and the collection they acquired over their seven decades together is truly remarkable. We look forward to sharing it with the collecting community in its dedicated sale session on 18 April.”

Property from the Collection of Rosa and Aaron Esman

Of the private collections featured in the sale, Property from the Collection of Rosa and Aaron Esman contains several notable works by prominent artists such as Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollock, Roy Lichtenstein, Ellsworth Kelly, Arman, Franz Kline, Mel Bochner, and others. Over their seventy- year marriage, the Esmans amassed an exceptional selection of Modern, Dada, Russian Constructivism, Post-War, and Contemporary art, which reflects both Mrs. Esman's career as a gallerist and print publisher and Dr. Esman's extensive writings on art, creativity, and the mind. As a pioneering print publisher, Mrs. Esman founded Tanglewood Press and Original
Editions, which produced portfolios of fine art prints and editions of 3- dimensional multiples with renowned artists of the 1960s and 1970s, including New York Ten Portfolio, 1965 and 1969, Ten from Leo Castelli, 1967, Seven Objects in a Box, 1966, and 11 Pop Artists Volumes I, II, and III, 1966. Included in these portfolios are works by renowned artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Donald Judd, Richard Serra, Lee Bontecou, Robert Rauschenberg, Eva Hesse, Tom Wesselmann, Sol LeWitt, Robert Motherwell, Helen Frankenthaler, and others.

The Esmans had a particular appreciation for Modern art and their collection reflected this with a diverse range of prints and multiples, including a 1912 Cubist etching by Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró’s livres des artistes Parler seul, 1948-50 and Ubu roi, 1966, and works by El Lissitzky, Wassily Kandinsky, Jackson Pollock, Marcel Duchamp, and Meret Oppenheim, among others. The couple also had an affinity for Jasper Johns' work, notably his Scent, 1975-76, and Target from 1967, both key images created with Tatyana Grosman at ULAE. The collection from the Esmans is a testament to their admiration for Modern art and their keen eye for exceptional works which created a mini museum in their apartment on the Upper East Side in New York City.

Jasper Johns’ Lead Reliefs set of five is the top lot of the sale with this being the first time the complete set has been offered at auction. The set depicts five objects – a shoe, lightbulb, toothbrush, flag, and slice of bread. Each image was carefully embossed from thin sheets of lead pressed to an aluminum or epoxy model and mounted onto polystyrene backing, showcasing Johns' experimental approach to print technologies and his desire to push the boundaries of the medium. The image of the Flag in the series was taken directly from the original 1960 Sculp-metal relief in Robert Rauschenberg’s collection. All are in exceptionally fine condition, adding to the rarity of the set.

This remarkable series also illuminates the influence of Marcel Duchamp on John's creative approach, evoking the Dadaist's ready-mades by transforming humble household items into monumental, visually ambiguous metal surfaces that offer new contextualization and meanings. Other notable works include Duchamp’s Nu déscendant un escalier No. 2, 1937, created to raise money for the production of his miniature retrospective in a case, Boîte-en-valise, in 1937 with only a small number of them made and hand signed over a French 5- centime revenue stamp. This impression has never been to auction and was acquired from a private collector in 1989.

The upcoming sale also features an impressive selection of Modern art, with works by renowned artists such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Henri Matisse, Hans Hofmann, David Smith, Yves Klein, and others. Among the highlights are two exceptional linocuts from 1962 by Picasso, which will be offered in the Evening sale, and includes a superb impression, with bright colors, of Danaé, along with a rare color proof of Jacqueline au chapeau á fleurs I, an early-stage print before its final edition that was originally in the printer’s archives. Alongside the linocuts is a group of Picasso ceramics that span the Esman, Evening, and Day sales highlighted by Femme pitcher, 1955, Femme au chapeau fleuri, 1964, a large red earthenware tile, and three Visage plates from 1955. Uniqueworks on paper by Hans Hofmann and David Smith are also seen in the Evening Sale, providing a special opportunity for collectors to acquire pieces in this medium from these artists that are not frequently seen in the market.

Continuing along the eras are a selection of Pop and Post War highlights from blue-chip artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, and others. The iconic Nude Reading, from Nudes Lichtenstein series from 1994 leads the selection alongside unique trial proofs from Warhol, including Sunset (see F. & S. 85-88), 1972, and Volkswagen, from Ads (see F. & S. 358), 1985. The lots from this genre also feature complete portfolios from Warhol’s Saint Apollonia set of four screenprints, Judd’s Untitled (S. 215-218) set of four woodcuts in Venetian red, and two portfolios from LeWitt featuring cube and star motifs.

The Day Sale sessions feature a selection of works from notable women artists ranging from established names with Meret Oppenheim, Françoise Gilot, Louise Bourgeois, Vija Celmins, Cecily Brown, along with contemporary makers such as Kara Walker, Belikis Ayón, Kiki Smith, and Lynda Benglis. On the heels of the recent eye-opening retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art, Oppenheim’s former studio assistant from 1973 to 1980, Dr. Renate Stendahl, has consigned several works by the artist, such as screenprints with unique coloring, drawings, prints, and ephemera.










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