When craft and art intersect: The Collection of Kippy Stroud

Masterpieces from the Collection of Kippy Stroud will be offered at the American Art auction on 19 May at Christie’s New York

Art is not created, displayed or destroyed in a vacuum, and there are more players involved than simply the artist himself. Coined a ‘patron and champion of modern and contemporary art’, Kippy Stroud represents the point at which collaboration, idea, execution and connoisseurship merge to form an entity greater than the sum of its parts.

Marion (Kippy) Boulton Stroud, Founder and Artistic Director, The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia. January 2014. Photo by Carlos Avendaño.

As the founder of the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that initiated an Artist-in-Residence program for over 450 artists and the Acadia Summer Arts Program, or ‘Kamp Kippy’ in Maine, Stroud fostered a laboratory-type retreat for experimentation that inspired and cultivated artists of many styles. Within such a welcoming environment, freedom of expression reigned. As a result, the name Stroud became synonymous with promotion of the arts.

Kippy Stroud’s affection for art did not end with her programs. She was also an avid collector. Attracted to contemporary and modern studies of Franz West, Matthew Barney and Nick Cave — to name but a few — she collected the important artistic predecessors to so many of these contemporary artists.

Perhaps Stroud’s most impressive selection was her assemblage of masterpieces from Georgia O’Keeffe that moved beyond the artist’s celebrated floral subject.

Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986), Blue I, 1916. Watercolour on paper. 31 x 22 1/4 in. (78.7 x 56.5 cm.) Estimate: $2,500,000–3,500,000. This work is offered in our American Art auction on 19 May at Christie’s New York

Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986), Red Hills with Pedernal, White Clouds, 1936. Oil on canvas. 20 x 30 in. (50.8 x 76.2 cm.) Estimate: $3,000,000–5,000,000. This work is offered in our American Art auction on 19 May at Christie’s New York

Instead, Stroud focused on O’Keeffe’s range, ‘from her important early abstraction to a classic Southwestern landscape’. Included in Stroud’s collection is a spiralling motif and investigation of colour in Blue I (1916; Estimate: $2,500,000–3,500,000) and a study of the artist’s beloved New Mexico landscape in Red Hills with Pedernal, White Clouds (1936; Estimate: $3,000,000–5,000,000).

As suggested by curator Debra Balken, Stroud’s ‘sensibility was attuned to the artist’s singularity and unconventional approach both to form and to life.’ Kippy Stroud’s legacy lives in the programs that she pioneered and the art that she collected.