Franz Kline - Editions & Works on Paper New York Tuesday, April 18, 2023 | Phillips
  •  “I think a good dealer is also a collector.”
    —Rosa Esman

    Rosa and Aaron Esman assembled an outstanding collection of Modern, Post-War, and Contemporary art over the course of their seventy-year marriage. The collection’s highlights mirror that of Rosa’s career as a gallerist and print publisher (which Aaron, a psychoanalyst, strongly supported), with interests in Modernism, Dada, Russian Constructivism, and American Pop Art taking center stage. Rosa got her start publishing artists’ print portfolios in the 1960s, including the New York Ten Portfolio, 1965, and Ten for Leo Castelli, 1967, which featured works by rising contemporary artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Robert Rauschenberg, and helped pioneer the field of artist’s editions and multiples. Her eponymous gallery exhibited in Manhattan for over twenty years, and she was a founding partner of Ubu Gallery, which is still in operation today.


    When asked about her wide artistic tastes in 2009, Rosa emphasized her love of drawing, “the quintessential bit of the art,” which can be seen across the collection, regardless of genre.


    The pair bonded over gallery visits when dating in the early 1950s. While Aaron already had begun collecting by then, the first work they purchased together was a drawing by Miró, early in their marriage. Rosa recalled: ‘sometimes we look at something, and I say, “Oh, isn’t that marvelous?”’ and Aaron would respond, ‘It’s for us.’


    Founded on lifelong love, the Collection of Rosa and Aaron Esman gives a unique vision of the art movements of the 20th century that shaped New York’s art scene.


    Rosa and Aaron Esman, Madrid, 1963


    • Provenance

      Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, 1963
      Baltimore Museum of Art Rental Gallery, Baltimore
      Everett Ellin Gallery, Los Angeles
      Rosa and Aaron Esman, New York
      Thence by descent to the present owners

    • Catalogue Essay

      In the late 1950s Kline collaborated with the poet Frank O'Hara for their contribution to the 21 Etchings and Poems portfolio, a project which looked back to the tradition of illustrated works such as the Book of Kells and William Blake's illuminated poems, integrating text and image. The poem was written by the hand of O'Hara onto the copperplate, meaning he had to master the skill of writing backwards in a mirror. The current work integrates the words of O'Hara with Kline's iconic Abstract Expressionist composition.

Property from the Collection of Rosa and Aaron Esman


I Will Always Love You, from 21 Etchings and Poems

Etching and aquatint, on Rives BFK paper, with full margins.
I. 8 1/4 x 14 7/16 in. (21 x 36.7 cm)
S. 17 x 19 7/8 in. (43.2 x 50.5 cm)

Signed and annotated 'Artist's Proof.' in pencil (one of 12 artist's proofs, the edition was 50), printed by Anderson-Lamb, Brooklyn, published by the Morris Gallery, New York, framed.

Full Cataloguing

$10,000 - 15,000 

Sold for $7,620

Contact Specialist
212 940 1220


Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 18 - 20 April 2023