Christie’s has acquired the majority of artwork the architect I.M. Pei and his spouse, Eileen, collected over their lifetimes, together with works by Barnett Newman, Jean Dubuffet, Zao Wou-Ki and others. The assortment is about to be auctioned in November and December after a world tour, and Christie’s expects the works may fetch greater than $25 million.
Before he died in May at 102, Mr. Pei designed buildings all over the world, amongst them the Louvre’s glass pyramid, the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar. The Peis developed shut friendships with artists, architects, gallerists and museum administrators over their 72 years of marriage. Those relationships, together with Mrs. Pei’s robust curatorial eye — she studied artwork and panorama structure — allowed them to develop a complicated non-public assortment. She died in 2014.
“Many collectors have advisers who assemble an excellent and diverse collection of art that appeals to them, that represents a certain period of work,” certainly one of the couple’s sons, Li Chung Pei, often called Sandi, stated in a cellphone interview. “In the case of my parents, these were all people they knew. These were people they associated with, people they were friends with. And as a consequence, many of these pieces were actually gifted to them by the artist, and that makes the collection very, very special and very personal.”
The 59-piece assortment contains two works by the Color Field painter Barnett Newman, which have been items from the artist’s spouse, Annalee. The works, “Untitled 4, 1950” and “Untitled 5, 1950,” are from a sequence of work, a few of which are in museum collections. The physique of labor additionally contains sculptures and work by the French artist Jean Dubuffet, who was a detailed buddy of the couple.
The assortment additionally displays the Peis’ connection to China, the place each Mr. and Mrs. Pei have been born. The Chinese-French artist Zao Wou-Ki was another friend of the family, and two of his paintings will be included in the sale. The collection also includes a hanging scroll by the Chinese artist Zhang Daqian.
Highlights of the collection by these artists, as well as pieces by Henry Moore, Jacques Lipchitz, Franz Kline and others will be exhibited in Paris from Sept. 13-17; then Hong Kong and Los Angeles in October. The entire collection will be shown in New York in early November. Auctions of the works will take place in New York and Hong Kong in November and Paris in December.
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