Works from the collection of David Solinger, a lawyer and former president of the Whitney Museum who died in 1996 at the age of 90, will be offered by the collector’s family at Sotheby’s this fall.
A group of 90 paintings and sculptures by the likes of Picasso, Willem de Kooning, Joan Miró, Jean Dubuffetm and others will be sold across sales in New York and Paris. A tranche of the top lots will be offered during a dedicated evening sale on November 14 at Sotheby’s New York. The single-collector sale is expected to generate $100 million.
Among the top works set to be offered as part of Solinger’s estate is Pablo Picasso’s 1927 portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter, which the artist produced just a few weeks after first meeting his early muse. The painting, Femme dans fauteuil, an abstracted view of the subject in a black, red, and white palette, is expected to fetch between $15 million to $20 million.
A 1949 Giacometti sculpture depicting three of the artist’s signature walking figures, titled Trois hommes qui, which Solinger commissioned from the artist after the two met at the latter’s Paris studio, will come to the sale alongside Joan Miró’s, Femme, étoiles, a 1945 grey-toned oil painting, featureing signature motifs like stars, outlined figures, and eyes. The works could each garner as much as $20 million.
A yellow-ground abstracted lacquered collage by Willem de Kooning is estimated at $18 million to $25 million. Solinger purchased the work directly from de Kooning during a studio visit when the artist was still relatively unknown and ailing financially.
In 1961, Solinger, then an established attorney specializing in television and advertising law, became a trustee of the Whitney Museum. Five years later, he succeeded Flora Whitney Miller, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s daughter, as its board president, becoming the first person outside of the Whitney family to hold the position. As president, Solinger was key in growing the stature of the small institution by securing funding for a building on Madison Avenue, designed by Marcel Breuer, as well as opening a branch location at 55 Water Street in Lower Manhattan in 1973.
In a statement, Oliver Barker, chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, emphasized the collection’s importance not only for its ties to Solinger, a key figure in New York postwar art scene, but for having been “lived with since the moment it was acquired.”
Focused on 20th-century art, Solinger amassed a collection of an estimated 150 works that also included work by Paul Klee, Fernand Léger, Franz Kline, and Wassily Kandinsky, among others. He donated several New York museums, including the Whitney, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. The collection was last exhibited in 2002 at Cornell, the collector’s alma mater.