Betty Parsons - 20th c. and Contemporary Art Day Sale - Morning Session New York Tuesday, December 8, 2020 | Phillips
  • Legendary art dealer Betty Parsons is widely known for her instrumental role in the foundation of The New York School, organizing important exhibitions for Jackson Pollock, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still, and placing their groundbreaking art in some of the most important private and public collections. Acclaimed for her vision and rare depth of appreciation for innovative talent, she also gave artists such as Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin and Robert Rauschenberg their debut shows. Throughout her remarkable career, Parsons was an artist in her own right – working across painting, sculpture and works on paper. 
    "In Untitled …bone, shell, and fossil shapes set against a translucent background move in synchrony, as if to give each other space. Such works reveal the way that Parsons brought a sense of play and human sensibility to her inanimate forms." —Lisa N. Peters Painted circa 1962, Untitled exemplifies Parsons’ unique distinct approach to abstract painting. Inspired by natural and cosmological phenomena, this painting beautifully exemplifies the shift in practice that the artist’s frequent stays in the Hamptons brought about: only two years prior, Parsons commissioned sculptor Tony Smith to construct her studio and residence in Southold, Long Island, where she would create works such as the present one. A practitioner of non-Western spiritualism, Parsons sought to capture the “invisible presence” – the energy she experienced in any given scenario – within her art.


    Property from the Collection of Pamela K. and William A. Royall Jr. 


    The present work arrives at auction from the collection of pioneering Virginia-based philanthropists Pamela and William Royall, prominent collectors of 20th century and contemporary art in the American South. The collection reflects their broad interests, from well-known artists from the 20th century to emerging and established Black artists. Committed arts patrons and forces of change in Richmond, the Royalls spearhead the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts’s recent acquisition of Kehinde Wiley’s sculpture Rumors of War as board members of the institution and were instrumental to the museum’s expansion of the diversity of its collection. Believing in a vision of greater inclusivity for Richmond, the Royalls established a non-profit art gallery for the collection, Try-me, which was open without charge to the public, which fostered a space for local artists and education.  

    • Provenance

      Betty Parsons Gallery, New York
      Spanierman Modern, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owners

    • Exhibited

      New York, Spanierman Modern, Totem Materia: Sculptures and Paintings by Betty Parsons, September 10 - October 11, 2008, fig. 5, p. 13 (titled Untitled (5020); illustrated, p. 5)

Property from the Collection of Pamela K. and William A. Royall Jr.



acrylic on canvas
68 7/8 x 40 1/8 in. (175 x 102 cm)
Painted circa 1962, this work will be included in the forthcoming online Catalogue Raisonné currently being prepared by the Betty Parsons Foundation.

Full Cataloguing

$20,000 - 30,000 

Sold for $138,600

Contact Specialist

John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261

20th c. and Contemporary Art Day Sale - Morning Session

New York 8 December 2020