Christie's interest in property consigned for sale.
Christie's generally offers property consigned by others for sale at public auction. From time to time, lots are offered which Christie's International Plc or one of it's subsidiary companies owns in whole or in part. Each such lot is offered subject to a reserve. This is such a lot
David Gibbs, London
E. J. Power, London
Waddington Galleries, London
C&M Arts, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, January 1995
In the early 1980s, the vision for the creation of the Israel Phoenix Assurance Company's collection was conceived by Mr. Joseph Hackmey, who was the Company's managing director. In an interview to the Israeli daily newspaper Yediot Aharonot in 1997 Mr. Hackmey said: "Someone who has succeeded thanks to the public among whom he lives should return something to this public" (M. Omer, ed., 90 Years of Israeli Art, a Selection from the Joseph Hackmey Israel Phoenix Collection, Tel Aviv, 1998, p. XXXIV). Mr. David Hackmey, then the Company's chairman and Joseph Hackmey's father, agreed to the formation of the collection. The Israel Phoenix Assurance Company was founded by Mr. David Hackmey in 1949. The company deals with all aspects of the insurance business and has holdings in diverse fields.
The collection comprises of the world's most comprehensive grouping of Israeli art. The Phoenix's Israeli art collection includes works by topographical painters of the Holy Land who visited Israel in the 19th century, works by Israeli masters from the pre-state days, as well as Modernist and Contemporary art.
This November, seminal works by the forerunners of American Contemporary art from the Phoenix collection will feature in this evening sale. Leading the group is Jasper John's iconic 0 Through 9 from 1961. This is one of a series of five paintings with this title, executed in 1961; each is composed of the numerals 0 through 9 superimposed one on top of the other. Mark Rothko's No. 18 is a beautiful, predominantly red-hued "Multiform" from 1948. White Fire I, a luminous painting by Barnett Newman from 1954. This extremely rare painting by Newman is characteristic of his pure style and mystical content. Robert Rauchenberg is represented by a combine painting of 1960, Nettle. Other works to be offered from this collection are Eva Hesse's 1967 Sculp-metal piece Untitled, Agnes Martin's Untitled #14 and two early works by Robert Ryman, as well as an impressive Abstraktes Bild by Gerhard Richter, which comes straight from the retrospective.
Mr. Joseph Hackmey, a perfectionist and art connoisseur with a discerning eye, was the driving force behind this collection. In a 1998 interview with Professor Mordecai Omer, Director and Chief Curator of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Mr. Hackmey described how he began to collect: "I started collecting art only in the early seventies I thought that to buy paintings was a very expensive matter circa 1975 I was in London, at an auction at Christie's, and I discovered that paintings don't necessarily cost great sums. In 1975-76 you could buy international art for some tens of thousands pounds sterling. I had a small collection of international art until the eighties, and then the Japanese got into the market and the prices went up a lot. I started collecting Israeli art--its reasonable prices and its availability encouraged vigorous activity. When the prices went down during the great distress of the international market in the years 1990-1992, we built a modern American collection, which continues the classical collection. Lately we've started collecting Contemporary art by young international artists" (Ibid, p. XIX).
There are few corporate art collections in Israel. The Israel Phoenix Assurance Company's collection is a role model among them. The Phoenix was well known for its support of Israeli artists, Israeli institutions and art publications. Most importantly, the art was used to enhance the welfare and well being of the Company's employees. Whenever you strolled through the maze of offices of the old Phoenix building, you caught a glimpse of important Israeli and international art from every office. Often large works were crammed into small spaces as the employees were allowed to chose what they wanted to hang in their domain. Miri Ben Moshe, the Phoenix's curator, could be seen at any given time leading distinguished guests from room to room, often interrupting meetings while opening the door and asking: "Could we please have a look at the art?" In an article about the collection published in 1998, Miri Ben Moshe listed three goals for the collection's contribution to the Company: (a) a congenial atmosphere for employees and visitors (b) a public relations and image asset for the company and (C) an astute investment. (Ibid, p.XXXVI-XXXVII).
In 2002 The Israel Phoenix Assurance Company came under new ownership. The new management's investment strategy and focus for the firm changed. One of the decisions taken was to sell their eight important works which make up this exceptional grouping of Post-War works.
by Roni Gilat-Baharoff
Property from the Collection of the Israel Phoenix Assurance Company
T.B. Hess, Barnett Newman, New York, 1969, p. 55.
N.L. Prak, "Persistent Schemes: The Quest for a Neutral Form," Art International, 14, no. 7, September 1970, p. 78.
T.B. Hess, Barnett Newman, New York, 1971, pp. 82 and 93.
C. Geelhaar, "Museen und Galerien, The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Ausstellung Barnett Newman--Complete Drawings 1944-1969," Pantheon, 38, no. 3, July/September 1980, p. 238.
S. Polcari, "Barnett Newman: New Beginnings," Abstract Expressionism and the Modern Experience, Cambridge and New York, 1991 p. 206.
H. Rosenberg, Barnett Newman, New York, 1994, p. 115, no. 83 (illustrated in color).
P. Schneider, "Déclarer l'espace: Barnett Newman," Petite Histoire de l'Infini en Peinture, Paris, 2001, pp. 310-311.
London, Tate Gallery, Barnett Newman, June-August 1972, p. 59 (illustrated).
London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, In Tandem: The Painter-Sculptor in the Twentieth century, March-May 1986 (illustrated, n.p.).
New York, C&M Arts, Newman, Rothko, Still: Search for the Sublime, April-May 1994 (illustrated in color, n.p.).
Berlin, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Die Epoche der Modernen Kunst im 20. Jahrhundert/The Age of Modernism: Art in the 20th Century, May-July 1997, no. 158 (illustrated in color).
Philadelphia Museum of Art; and London, Tate Modern, Barnett Newman, March 2002-January 2003, pp. 206-207, no. 56 (illustrated in color).