Christie's to offer Property from the Collection of Mary & John Pappajohn

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Christie's to offer Property from the Collection of Mary & John Pappajohn
In Untitled # 7 ($3,000,000 – 5,000,000), Agnes Martin employs aspects of both Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism to evoke a transcendental state of spirituality through a rarified “field of vision.” © Christie's Images Ltd 2024.

NEW YORK, NY.- Christie's announced Property from the Collection of Mary & John Pappajohn which will be offered as a group of highlights during the Spring Marquee Week of sales in New York. The collection includes an incredible array of artworks by leading names in post-war and contemporary art including Jasper Johns, Bruce Nauman, Agnes Martin, Henry Moore, and Ad Reinhardt. The collection is led by 0 through 9 ($5,000,000 - 7,000,000) an all-important 1961 example by the iconic Jasper Johns, in which he uses layering to challenge formal notions of numerical symbols. In 1955, soon after the artist completed his first Flag and Target paintings, Johns began his Numbers paintings which would go on to form the central core of a career that spanned second half of the twentieth century. The present work is a particularly important example from within the series as it is the original Sculp-metal painting from the artist’s first European show, held in Paris at the Galerie Rive Droite in the summer of 1961. Property from the Collection of Mary and John Pappajohn will be offered in both the 21st Century Evening Sales on Tuesday, May 14, 2024 and the 20th Century Evening Sale on Thursday, May 16, 2024 as well as in the subsequent Day Sales.

Johanna Flaum, Christie’s Vice Chairman of 20th and 21st Century Art, remarks, “Mary and John Pappajohn collected with deep passion and together created a collection richly reflective of post-war and contemporary art in America. Beginning in the 1960s, the works they acquired challenged accepted norms and pushed boundaries, proposing new concepts and ideas of what art could be. Their singular vision resulted in a best-in-class collection that was far ahead of its time, featuring artworks of the highest quality. We are thrilled to offer this phenomenal selection across our 20th and 21st Century Spring Marquee Week sales.”

The Pappajohns’ collection comprises bold examples by artists testing the limits of previously conceived notions of art. In Untitled # 7 ($3,000,000 – 5,000,000), Agnes Martin employs aspects of both Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism to evoke a transcendental state of spirituality through a rarified “field of vision.” Bruce Nauman’s Hanged Man ($4,000,000 – 6,000,000) transforms simple neon lines into a frenetic, sexual image. Made at the height of the AIDS crisis, the work prioritizes cognitive provocation over aesthetic pleasure. As a whole, the collection subverts traditional modes of subject and composition, and exemplifies the very best in groundbreaking contemporary art.

John Pappajohn first discovered his love of art through a course taken during his senior year at the University of Iowa; Mary Pappajohn studied art at the University of Minnesota. After meeting and falling in love, the couple embarked on a lifelong journey together of appreciating and collecting meaningful artwork. They married in 1961 and bought the first piece for their collection within the first month of marriage, a fifty-dollar print by Keith Achepohl from a Des Moines art gallery. The Pappajohns had art on their walls before they even had furniture. In 2009, Mary and John Pappajohn gifted their extensive sculpture collection to the city of Des Moines, and effectively transformed the neighborhood into a world-class cultural attraction with the Pappajohn Sculpture Park. Mary and John Pappajohn were the most generous philanthropists in Iowa’s history and were among the most important cultural philanthropists in the United States.

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