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This November, Christie’s will present an unrivalled selection of paintings and sculpture by some of the titans of twentieth century art. From Andy Warhol’s opulent Four Marilyns to Cy Twombly’s sublime Untitled, and Louise Bourgeois’ monumental Spider to Lucian Freud’s magnificent portrait The Brigadier –the very best examples of Pop, Minimalism, Abstract Expressionism and Conceptual Art are represented. The role of the collector is also honored, with a selection of Pop works from the Miles and Shirley Fiterman Collection, works of Arte Povera from the Collection of Ileana Sonnabend and the Estate of Nina Sundell, and an impressive grouping of works by Alexander Calder from the Arthur and Anita Kahn Collection.

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The art collection of pioneering gallerist Ileana Sonnabend and her daughter goes on auction in New York next month, valued at $50 million and featuring some of the finest 20th century artists.

Auctioneers Christie's said it had acquired the Sonnabend collection and the estate of her daughter Nina Sundell, which would be offered for sale as 88 lots on May 13-14.

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Lehmann Maupin's Chelsea gallery is relocating, taking over 536 West 22nd Street, currently home to the illustrious Sonnabend Gallery, which will close its exhibition space at year's end. Though Sonnabend owns the space, it will be leasing it to Lehmann Maupin and will no longer have an exhibition space of its own, though its operations will otherwise continue, associate director Queenie Wong told artnet News in a phone interview.

After nearly 30 years in SoHo (Ileana Sonnabend opened her eponymous gallery there in 1971 after nine years of business in Paris), the gallery moved into its current space in May of 2000.

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Ileana Sonnabend was one of the greatest and most influential discoverers of artistic talent of the late 20th century, known and appreciated for her intuition, strength of character, ground-breaking vision and for that eclecticism of taste and thinking that enabled her to understand and promote all that was new in American and European art. Created over many years and a material reflection of her commitment to supporting young artists and the avant-garde movements of the 20th century, her extraordinary collection now finds a “European home” in the splendid monumental rooms on the second floor of the Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna at Ca’ Pesaro.

The exhibition marks the first step in a long-term collaboration with the Sonnabend Collection and Sonnabend Collection Foundation, and offers an extraordinary opportunity to enrich the city’s 20th-century art collections and the permanent displays at Ca’ Pesaro, which thanks to the works from the Ileana Sonnabend collection, will be able to offer its visitors a more comprehensive itinerary with plenty of masterpieces from the history of art of the whole of the 20th century. The Sonnabend Collection picks up exactly at the point in which Ca’ Pesaro ended its collecting spree and relationship with the Biennale, and will lead the visitor past a series of works of the highest artistic quality forming part of the principal experimental schools of the late 20th century through over 70 iconic works of the period.

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New York’s Museum of Modern Art is honoring the legendary gallerist and collector Ileana Sonnabend with the exhibition ‘Ileana Sonnabend: Ambassador for the New.’

The show brings together works that were shown in her galleries in Paris and New York between the 1960s and 1980s. Sonnabend, who opened the Sonnabend Gallery in Paris in 1961, was instrumental in bringing American art of the 1960s, most notably Pop Art and Minimalism, to Europe. Sonnabend opened a New York outpost in 1970 and conversely introduced Americans to European art movements such as Arte Povera.

‘Ambassador for the New’ features works by approximately 40 artists, including Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, John Baldessari, and Jeff Koons. Works on view have been pulled from MoMA’s own collection as well as other public and private holdings.

‘Ileana Sonnabend: Ambassador for the New’ will be on view at MoMA through April 21, 2014.  

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The Museum of Modern Art in New York will honor the legendary gallerist and collector Ileana Sonnabend with an exhibition of works that were shown in her galleries in Paris and New York between the 1960s and 1980s. Sonnabend, who opened the Sonnabend Gallery in Paris in 1962, was instrumental in bringing American art of the 1960s, most notably Pop Art and Minimalism, to Europe. Sonnabend opened a New York outpost in 1970 and conversely, popularized European art of the 1970s, including the Arte Povera movement, in the U.S.

Ileana Sonabend: Ambassador for the New will open on December 21, 2013 and celebrates the Sonnabend family’s generous bequest of Robert Rauschenberg’s seminal mixed media assemblage Canyon (1959) to MoMA. The exhibition will present works by approximately 30 artists including Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, John Baldessari and Jeff Koons. Works will be pulled from MoMA’s own collection as well as other public and private holdings.  

Ileana Sonabend: Ambassador for the New will be on view at MoMA through April 21, 2014.

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Wednesday, 28 November 2012 16:24

Seminal Rauschenberg Work Heads to MoMA

The children of the New York art dealer, Ileana Sonnabend, have donated Robert Rauschenberg’s mixed media assemblage, Canyon (1959), to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. While the acquisition is a welcomed addition to MoMA’s existing Rauschenberg collection, the work wasn’t always so warmly regarded.

The Sonnabend heirs received Canyon after their mother’s death in 2007 and the work was soon at the center of a battle between MoMA and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the piece had been displayed intermittently since 2005. MoMA ramped up its efforts and promised to add Ms. Sonnabend’s name to the Founders Wall in the museum’s lobby. Officials also vowed to mount an entire show devoted to Canyon as well as Sonnabend, an important player in the modern art movement. While the Met made offers of their own, the Sonnabend family ultimately decided that MoMA was the right home for the work considering the expansive Rauschenberg collection already in the institution’s possession.

Sadly, this is not the first dramatic episode Canyon has been involved in. When the Sonnabend children inherited the work five years ago, appraisers valued the assemblage at $0. The presence of a stuffed bald eagle, a bird that is protected by federal laws, halted any possible sales of trades involving the work. The I.R.S., on the other hand, shrugged this off and claimed that Canyon was worth $65 million and demanded that Sonnabend’s family pay $29.2 million in taxes and another $11.7 million in penalties.

Eventually, a settlement was worked out and I.R.S. dropped all tax charges. In order for this to happen, the Sonnabends were required to donate Canyon to a museum where it could be put on public display. Canyon will be on view at MoMA beginning today, November 28.

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The Peggy Guggenheim Collection presents Ileana Sonnabend. An Italian Portrait, on view 29 May–2 October 2011.

Considered by many to be among the greatest gallerists of late 20th century contemporary art, Ileana Sonnabend (1914–2007) also brought together a major art collection of her own. The exhibition Ileana Sonnabend. An Italian Portrait, on view at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, from May 29 to October 2, 2011, presents works from the Sonnabend Collection, New York, on the theme of Italy: works by Italian artists, and works by international artists which reference Italian culture, tradition, and topography.

Ileana Schapira was born in Bucharest, Romania. Her father was a successful businessman and financial advisor to King Carol II of Romania. She met Leo Krausz (later Castelli) in 1932 and married him a year later. In 1935 they moved to Paris and opened an art gallery there, with René Drouin, before emigrating to New York in 1941. Leo Castelli joined the US army, and Ileana studied at Columbia University, where she met Michael Sonnabend, whom she was to marry in 1959. In the 1940s and 50s the Castellis initiated a collection of art that included works by Piet Mondrian and Jackson Pollock. In 1957 they opened their first art gallery in New York. Together they discovered and exhibited the work of Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, and began lifetimes of showing new art, beginning with Neo-dada and Pop Art (Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg and James Rosenquist). Late in 1962 Michael and Ileana Sonnabend opened the Galerie Ileana Sonnabend in Paris, where they exhibited the work of American artists but also the work of several young Italians, beginning with Mario Schifano (1963) and Michelangelo Pistoletto (1964), followed by Gilberto Zorio, Mario Merz and Giovanni Anselmo (1969), Piero Paolo Calzolari (1971), Jannis Kounellis (1972) and others.

In 1970 Ileana Sonnabend opened a gallery in New York, moving in 1971 to the SoHo district, together with the Castelli Gallery, thus spurring a migration of the contemporary art scene in New York. She opened her SoHo gallery with a now-celebrated performance by Gilbert & George. As she continued, through her gallery and collecting, to register new art as it emerged on both the European and the New York scene—Minimalism, Arte Povera, Conceptual Art, performance, Transavanguardia, Neo-Expressionism, Neo-Geo and new photography—she acquired a reputation for her connoisseurship, her appetite for ‘the new’ and for the international character of her gallery.

Peggy Guggenheim (1898–1979) and Ileana Sonnabend had in common that their careers were as both gallerists and collectors. In New York in the 1940s the Castellis frequented Guggenheim’s Art of This Century museum-gallery (1942–47)—about which Castelli remarked “Peggy’s gallery was a sensation… No one realized that Peggy was doing something of epoch-making importance.” The Castellis bought works of art from Guggenheim. However, whereas Guggenheim’s patronage focused on the generation of the American Abstract Expressionists, Ileana Sonnabend promoted subsequent avant-gardes over a fifty-year period, as if in a line of succession from Guggenheim.

Michael and Ileana Sonnabend had strong personal ties to Italy, and to Venice in particular, where for many years they rented an apartment for the summer. Beginning with a sojourn in Rome in 1960, where they were in contact with the ‘Scuola di Piazza del Popolo’ and the dealer Plinio de Martiis, and in 1962 in Venice, where they were befriended by artists, critics and dealers such as Giuseppe Santomaso, Giuseppe Marchiori, Attilio Codognato, Giovanni Camuffo and Carlo Cardazzo, they formed many close Italian friendships, including Gian Enzo Sperone, Germano Celant, Achille Bonito Oliva, Giuseppe and Giovanna Panza, and the many artists whose works Ileana would exhibit, in Paris and New York. Ileana, with Leo Castelli and Alan Solomon, played an important role in bringing Robert Rauschenberg to the 1964 Venice Biennale, where he won the Grand Prix for Painting—a crucial event in the career of Rauschenberg, in the history of the Venice Biennale and of European and American contemporary art as a whole.

Ileana Sonnabend. An Italian Portrait brings together more than 60 works by almost 50 artists, selected by Antonio Homem (director of the Sonnabend Gallery, New York, and adopted son of Ileana Sonnabend). It will include Andy Warhol’s portrait of Ileana Sonnabend, works on Italian themes by Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly, works by Italians such as Tano Festa, Lucio Fontana, Mimmo Rotella, Schifano and Piero Manzoni, works by American artists inspired by Italian culture (Jim Dine, James Rosenquist, John Baldessari for example), by artists of the Arte Povera movement (Zorio, Anselmo, Calzolari, Jannis Kounnelis, and Merz), by several international photographers (including Bernd and Hilla Becher, Candida Höfer, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Max Becher and Andrea Robbins), and by many others—whether Italian (Giulio Paolini, Luigi Ontani) or not (Bruce Nauman, Anselm Kiefer, Philip Haas, Rona Pondick for example). The exhibition moves beyond its Italian leitmotif to a more general survey of the diversity, originality and indeed brilliance of Ileana Sonnabend’s career as a promoter and collector of emerging art.

The exhibition is organized by Antonio Homem and Philip Rylands, director of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. The catalogue includes tributes to Ileana Sonnabend by Achille Bonito Oliva and Germano Celant, an interview with Antonio Homem, and catalogue texts by Mario Codognato.

The exhibition has been supported by Intrapresae Collezione Guggenheim and is in collaboration with Corriere della Sera. Hangar Design Group realized the graphic design. Radio Italia is media partner.

Daily at 3:30 pm free guided visits of the temporary exhibition are offered to the public.

Opening hours: 10:00 am–6:00 pm; closed Tuesdays

Peggy Guggenheim Collection
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