A Picasso masterpiece entitled “Femme à la montre” is expected to fetch more than $120 million when it goes up for auction this fall. The 1932 oil painting will take center-stage at a two-day event at Sotheby’s in New York in November, when the collection of Emily Fisher Landau goes on sale.
Over the course of the last century or so, a small number of individuals have played a vital role in shaping the unfolding story of 20th century art. Emily Fisher Landau was a key member of this group: her deep and longstanding involvement with leading institutions, in particular as a working member of the Whitney Museum of American Art board for thirty years; her profound engagement with the art and artists of her time and her unerring instinct as a collector at the highest level, all combined in one of the greatest collectors and patrons of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s.
Though her interest in art began in childhood, her passion for collecting began in in the late 1960s with the purchase of a striking Alexander Calder mobile (which, in spite of its size, she determinedly carried home single-handedly on a cross town bus) and with a chance encounter with a poster advertising a forthcoming Josef Albers show. Immediately struck by the power of this minimal image, she visited the exhibition and three major acquisitions soon followed.
Shortly afterwards, an unexpected event provided a rapid spur to her newfound desire for collecting. The theft from her home of her many magnificent jewels resulted in a substantial insurance payment which she decided she would prefer to use to finance her adventures in art. The die was cast.
Now collecting in earnest, Mrs. Fisher Landau began to put together a major ensemble of works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Piet Mondrian, Jean Arp, Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, Paul Klee and Louise Nevelson among others. All were complemented, in later years, by the work of artists Mrs. Fisher Landau came to know and patronize directly, many of whom she collected in depth.
This Fall, following a series of international exhibitions that will allow audiences around the world to see for the first time the extraordinary range and quality of Mrs. Fisher Landau’s collection, some 120 exceptional works from the collection, estimated to bring well over $400 million, will be offered for sale at Sotheby’s New York in two dedicated auctions, on 8th and 9th November, which are destined to be a historic moment for the art market.
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