The Clarke Collection A Post-War & Contemporary Art Sale By Christie’s

During this fall, Christie’s will be presenting for sale the expansive Clarke Collection across 4 sales running from September to December 2019.

The love affair between design and Laura Weir Clarke and husband Architect Fred Clarke started pretty much right from the beginning. As a partner at Pelli Clarke Pelli, Fred has helped to create some of the most iconic modern buildings in New York, San Francisco and even as far as Kuala Lampur.

Still early on in their relationship, when the couple was living in Los Angeles, they had already started to surround themselves with artists. This stimulating environment and fascination with art would soon lead to the start of an exceptional collection. Their ‘fate’ as serious Post War & Contemporary Art collectors had been cemented. Fred Clarke commented: “I don’t think that I could not collect. In fact, we were collectors before we were buyers”

It was the piece Electrical (1972) by Ed Ruscha that started the Clarke Collection. This love with Ruscha has resulted in a wonderfully expansive amount of his work form part of their collection. So large, in fact, that the sale offered by Christie’s will include a staggering thirty-five works from Ruscha in a dedicated sale.

“We had so many influences,” stated Fred. “If you were interested you could make choices about what you wanted to look at and what emotionally you were connected with. The fact that we moved from Texas to Los Angeles in a really accidental way started making Ruscha’s work more personal. I saw images, I saw attitudes, I saw ideas about the atmosphere and sense of place that really connected with me directly”

“We used to drive back and forth between Los Angeles and Texas so many times to visit our families and we saw so many instances of these big long flat roads, endless horizons, buildings that were otherwise quite ugly, but if you really looked at them they were quite beautiful. It all started making sense in a really personal way.”

“To be a buyer you have to have money, but to be a collector all you really need is to look and to do the work. It’s not about cost, it’s about value”

Fred Clarke

The in 1977, the couple relocated to the East Coast where he and César Pelli, then the Dean of the Architecture School at Yale University, founded César Pelli & Associates. The couple in later years moved into their home which they still occupy in Connecticut, at the edge of Long Island Sound.

This exceptional home was built in 1951 by the architect and sculptor Tony Smith for the late architect Fred Olsen Jr. Its exceptionally modern style and abundant usage of light offers uninterrupted views to the water and beyond. Although the house itself houses a small portion of the Clarke Collection, due to its layout and the abundance of harsh sunlight, the couple was left with nowhere to house their expansive collection.

Then came the solution when they ended up transforming a 19th-century carriage house in New Haven into a dedicated gallery space to house this impressive collection.

The collection of works on paper, prints, sculpture, and design will be offered across several New York sales throughout the fall beginning with a single artist sale, Thirtyfive Works by Ed Ruscha from The Clarke Collection, preceding the Post-War to Present sale on 27 September. This will be followed by the Prints & Multiples sale in October, Post-War & Contemporary Art Day sale in November, and the Design sale in December.

Preview Exhibitions of The Clarke CollectionHIGHLIGHTS

  • Los Angeles: 10 – 14 September; 15 – 17 October
  • Hong Kong: 3 – 6 October
  • Chicago: 16 – 19 October
  • San Francisco: 22 – 25 October
Daniel Norgaard

Arts & Culture Editor

Originally from Denmark, Daniel Nørgaard serves as the Arts & Culture Editor at Salon Prive Magazine. He and his team covers the latest news from the world of Arts, Music, Theater and Literature from around the world.

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