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Although Frank H. and Nancy L. Porter were not born in Cleveland, their lives would become integrally linked with the city. Frank grew up in Cleveland Heights and both he and his wife experienced the deprivations of the Great Depression of the 1930s. After World War II Frank began to work for his father-in-law's company, Central Cadillac and within a short period of time, they transformed the business into the largest Cadillac dealership in Ohio. In conjunction with her husband's widening business interests Nancy became a "career volunteer" serving on the boards of thirteen different Cleveland organizations and charities. In the 1960s Frank's business interests expanded into real estate and over the next few years he was instrumental in the development of a number of important buildings in and around Cleveland, including Walter Gropius' landmark Tower East in Shaker Heights.
The ever widening horizons of the Porter's personal and professional interests in the 1960's led them to a fascination with modern art. The couple travelled extensively throughout Europe, and they had a very strong affinity towards Spanish and French contemporary art. The walls of their homes and businesses were literally covered with pictures, some by famous artists, and other works by those who would later become famous. Thus Picasso's baigneuse, 1909, hung nearby a seminal 1968 spectrum-like painting of Ellsworth Kelly, acquired in the year of its creation.
The following selection of their works demonstrates the breadth of range and strongly European character of the collection. A highlight is Jean Dubuffet's Paysage eclectique of 1957 which depicts the earth as a magnificent assemblage of myriad natural forms, expressing a sense of the mutual interdependence of the macrocosm and the microcosm.
The Porter's interest in nature undoubtedly influenced their love of the work of Catalan artist Antoni Tapies. Two works by Tapies from their collection are included here, one a rare early Surrealist-inspired painting from 1951 entitled El accidente, the other a strongly material work from 1964. The selection also includes two important Spanish works by fellow members of the El Paso group of artists, Manolo Millares and Antoni Saura. Saura's lesa is a dramatic figure study in which the artist has taken the female form as the starting point for an increasingly abstract painterly exploration of the meaning of form and material, while Millares' El Personaje is more of an investigation of the human figure in the format of a large and dramatic triptych. Looking like a tortured crucified figure dismembered and stretched over three separate canvases El Personaje is a powerful expression of both the raw existential torment and the powerful vitality of life. Continuing this strongly 'informel' theme, there are also two very intuitive and more delicately worked paintings by Pierre Soulages and Zao Wou-ki.
In complete contrast to this strong emphasis on the 'informel', the collection also includes a work of sublime abstract beauty by Josef Albers. Albers, a former pupil and teacher at the Bauhaus attempted to create works of spiritual depth and resonance through the simple use of colour and geometry. Using the gold colour hinted at in the title of the work, Homage to the Square : Auriferous is a particularly fine example from the series of works in the same format that dominated the artist's work.
The Porters were important figures in the cultural world of Cleveland. They were closely affiliated with the Cleveland Museum of Art, and were members of the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Their steadfast patronage of charitable causes was equally profound, and accordingly, the proceeds from the paintings in this sale will benefit the Cleveland Foundation.
PROPERTY BELONGING TO THE COLLECTION OF MR. AND MRS. FRANK H. PORTER TRUST ESTATE