The American Folk Art Museum was open from 2001 to 2011 and was located in New York City in Lincoln Center. The museum was devoted to folk art and featured the works of contemporary self-taught artists.
Picasso. van Gogh. da Vinci. These are names that are instantly recognizable and familiar to the masses. Even without a deep understanding and appreciation of art, one can conjure an image of a painting by one of these masters. However, there are also artists who exist in more rarified circles. They may not be household names, but they are very well-known to and coveted by distinguished collectors. Daniel Brush is one of these artists. His limited production of works of art has captivated the privileged few collectors who are lucky enough to know about and own a Brush masterpiece. Brush’s works are collected by a coterie of connoisseurs who have the ability to collect any artist. They choose to collect Brush. Fortunately, exhibitions at the Smithsonian and the Museum of Art and Design have brought Brush into the consciousness of more art enthusiasts and the public at large.
Over the past five decades, Brush has established himself as one of the most exclusive and innovative artists of our time. Without outside influences or consideration of the mainstream, Brush has produced a distinctly singular vision and entirely unique body of work. Brush has been celebrated and showcased in international exhibitions and solo retrospectives at leading institutions, including the Museum of Arts and Design, the Smithsonian and Van Cleef & Arpels’ L’École. Additionally, a substantial retrospective of his work is planned for 2021 in Hong Kong.
Brush’s work in mixed metals is especially impressive as Brush alone purchases, melts and shapes the gold and other metals used for his pieces. He works in the traditional techniques of ancient goldsmiths and has never employed a workshop or assistants. The only help and support he receives comes from his wife and their son. Brush is also a master of granulation, as seen in Lot 206, which is considered the most complex goldsmithing technique.
Notably, Brush skillfully combines mediums not traditionally used together. Lots 218 and 219 adeptly integrate pink diamonds, some of the rarest of colored diamonds, with light pink plastic. By working in a myriad of styles and mediums, Brush has challenged traditional labels and refused to be defined by a single discipline.
His works have found homes in important public institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as notable private and royal collections. Brush has received critical acclaim from jewelry historians, heritage jewelry firms, and members of all aspects of the jewelry and artistic worlds. His works have been the focus of eight books printed by prestigious publishers including Abrams, Steidl, and Rizzoli.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1947, Brush’s fascination and appreciation of art was sparked at a young age. During a family trip to London, his mother took him to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Standing in the jewelry gallery of the museum, Brush knew jewels and precious objects would be his life’s calling. From that point onward, Brush would visit the Cleveland Museum of Art and sketch its collection, in addition to formal art classes.
Daniel Brush studied Fine Art at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and later at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California. Early in his career, Brush was an Art Professor at Georgetown University. While teaching, Brush continued to create unique objects and began exhibiting his work in museums and galleries in Washington D.C. Notably, at only 23 years old, Brush put on a sold-out exhibition at The Phillips Collection museum in Washington D.C.
In 1978, Daniel and his wife Olivia moved to New York City, where they raised their son, Silla, and have remained since. Despite New York City’s intense focus on fame and celebrity, Brush continues to thrive creatively while maintaining his fiercely hermetic lifestyle. Brush has proven himself a master at maintaining a juxtaposition between living in the highly populated and social New York City and his own monk-like existence.
Brush’s talent has never been confined to a single medium. This multidisciplinary artist has worked in drawings, paintings, and sculpture. His works are self-referential across mediums and often interconnected. Many of his works executed in steel, such as Lot 216 with its thousands of hand engraved lines, are evocative of his line drawings. Similarly, his line drawings, such as Lot 205, inspired future sculptures.
Christie’s is pleased to present the following collection of jewelry and objects by one of the most important American contemporary artists. Lots 205 - 219 present a rare opportunity to possess a substantial and wide-reaching assemblage of Brush’s works. Without question, this highly individualistic artist, who produces all works with his own mind and hands, is one of the most celebrated and coveted makers in the world today.
‘As an admirer of Daniel’s work for nearly forty years, I am delighted that Christie’s will have the privilege of offering this important collection of objects. He continues to push the boundaries by working with innovative materials which culminate in objects and jewelry collected the world over.’
-François Curiel, Chairman Christie’s Europe