Sidney Janis Gallery, New York
Bill Bass collection, Chicago
By descent to the present owner
This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné being prepared by the Anni and Josef Albers Foundation.
Property from the Estate of Bill Bass, Chicago
Christie's is delighted to offer a selection of significant works from the Estate of Bill Bass. This outstanding collection, which includes many extraordinary works which are fresh to the market, was built up by Mr. Bass, a passionate Chicago based collector who amassed an exceptional collection of work by artists he admired.
The collection includes important examples of work by some of the giants of twentieth century art including Josef Albers, Roy Lichtenstein, Tom Wesselmann and Andy Warhol.
Wesselmann's Study for Great American Nude #96 is a prelude to one of the most famous images in post war American art. Wesselmann's fascination with, and sheer delight in, the female body is clear in this homage to female sexuality, a factor heightened by the inclusion of fruits and flowers, all references from classical art history which Wesselmann skillfully combines with the radio (which itself replicates the body it is trying to obscure) to produce a delightfully playful work. Another excellent example of Mr. Bass' interest in Pop Art is Lichtenstein's Explosion, an intimate graphite and colored pencil work on paper which provides an intriguing opportunity to see directly the artist's hand at work, something which Lichtenstein often tried to disguise in his larger works.
While both these works feature the playful characteristics of Pop Art, Christie's is also pleased to offer works from the collection that offer a more sober look at developments in post-war art. Frank Stella's For Picabia is a reaction to the explosion of expressiveness that took place with the birth of abstract expressionism and the artist's yearning for art with more intellectual rigor. Together with three works by Josef Albers, including Towards the South with his signature geometric squares in warm colors, they contrast calmly with other pieces in the collection. Also included in the collection is a superb self-portrait by the artist Chuck Close that will be offered for sale in the Afternoon session.
Bill Bass concentrated on collecting works from artists he knew personally or felt a great affinity with and many of these pieces were obtained directly from dealers and are new to the market. We are pleased to be able to bring many of these pieces to the market for the first time and to allow them to pass to a new generation of connoisseur.