“There has been a climate change denial movement around the world,” says veteran science journalist Christine Russell, who is a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Her comment was part of a round table discussion of scientists into remarks and inaction by leading denialists in the US, Canada, Australia and Russia about the environment.
Creatives are combating anti-science leadership in government with the only thing they know how, art. This spring, the Post-War and Contemporary Art sales in New York will lead with Death in America: Selections from the Zadig & Voltaire Collection assembled by Thierry Gillier who founded the celebrated French fashion line in 1997. A portion of the sale of the proceeds will benefit two organizations on the forefront of combating the world’s escalating ecological crisis, The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and Oceana’s United States Shark Conservation Program.
Zadig & Voltaire recognizes this as a particularly urgent time to support the protection of the earth’s ecosystems, and is proud to stand behind the efforts being made by these organizations. The collection will be represented by 11 works in the May 17th evening sale, and an additional 35 lots in the May 18 afternoon sale. Collectively, this group is expected to realize in excess of $20 million.
“Gillier’s understanding of history, and his sharp eye for quality is distinct in these works. The collection comprises a powerful sense of rebellion, from the artists who are known for defying traditional notions of fine art, to the collector who has built an empire pushing the boundaries of high fashion. Every work contains an underlying mentality that art cannot be defined, medium cannot be restricted and ideas cannot be constrained. Although the selection spans nearly 40 years, its defiant nature feels more relevant now than ever. A portion of the proceeds from this collection will benefit the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, and Oceana’s United States Shark Conservation program, ensuring that the revolutionary spirit with which these works were created will continue their fight on the front lines of the battle to protect the world’s ecology.” – Loic Gouzer, Chairman, Post-War and Contemporary Art
The collection is named for Steven Parrino’s, Death in America #1, 2003 (estimate: $800,000-1,200,000), a pivotal work for the iconoclastic artist, following a turning point in his career. Describing this time, Parrino once remarked, “the word on painting was ‘Painting Is Dead.’ I saw this as an interesting place for painting… and this death painting thing led to a sex and death painting thing… that became an existence thing.”
Death in America #1, 2003, pictured left, is a shimmering, beautiful piece of destruction. It exemplifies Parrino’s intelligently rebellious approach to the canvas. It also reflects the spirit of Death in America: Selections from the Zadig & Voltaire Collection, an extraordinary grouping of works that explores this “existence thing” from a rich crossroads of art, music and fashion. Zadig & Voltaire, known around the globe for its effortlessly cool brand of Parisian rock chic, shares in the rebel soul of many of the artists in this selection. Though their artistic missions are diverse, a sense of radical creative (re)vision is common to the tough, pioneering Minimalism of Donald Judd to the firebrand sensibilities of Urs Fischer and Maurizio Cattelan, or Rudolf Stingel, whose Untitled, 2012 (estimate: $4,500,000-5,500,000) – pictured below enshrines transient graffiti as a gilded artifact, reminding the viewer that the tattooed grit of the city is never far away.
As founder Thierry Gillier and his wife, creative director Cecilia Bönström are well aware, confronting traditional taste can unlock exciting new avenues of expression. Their label offers a vision of classic simplicity infused with rock-and-roll spirit that is in perfect sync with their lifestyle, philosophy and art collection.
An enigmatic highlight is Maurizio Cattelan’s Untitled, 2007 (estimate: $1,000,000-1,500,000) – pictured below, a startling life-size sculpture that ranks among the artist’s most powerful and iconic creations. A girl in a nightshirt hangs with her back to the viewer and her face hidden, arms outstretched as if crucified. She is packed in an open crate: her limbs and torso are supported by padded plywood restraints, and the box is lined with tissue paper.
With a sharp eye for the unforgettable images, Cattelan poses an intelligent investigation into mechanisms of power, the reception of art, and the restraint of ideas, reveling the anxieties that lie behind his provocative practice. In doing so, this work also embodies the defiant spirit of The Zadig & Voltaire collection. The work has its genesis in a 1977-78 self-portrait by Francesca Woodman, which captures the young photographer hanging from a doorway in Rome. Cattelan recreated this enigmatic image as an uncannily realistic sculpture, first shown at Austria’s Kunsthaus Bregenz in 2008. Prior to installation he happened to see the figure secured face-down in its shipping crate, and the work’s current iteration was born. In her packaging the girl seems at once protected and imprisoned, both tortured martyr and enshrined art object.
Additional highlights from the Death in America: Selections from the Zadig & Voltaire Collection include: