Marcel Duchamp - Editions & Works on Paper New York Tuesday, April 18, 2023 | Phillips

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  •  “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

      Neil Cooper, New York
      Rosa and Aaron Esman, New York
      Thence by descent to the present owners

    • Literature

      Arturo Schwarz 608

    • Catalogue Essay

      Marcel Duchamp designed a stopper in order to fill the bath of his home in Cadaqués, Spain, in 1961; in 1967, the International Collectors Society began casting the stopper under the title Duchamp Art Medal – turning a commonplace, functional object into a valuable work of art.

Property from the Collection of Rosa and Aaron Esman


Bouche-évier (Sink Stopper), also known as Medallic Sculpture (S. 608)

Cast bronze multiple.
2 1/2 x 2 1/2 x 3/8 in. (6.4 x 6.4 x 1 cm)
With incised signature, date '64' (the date of the original lead model from which the cast was made), and numbering 10/100 on the underside (between 1967 and 1979 the International Collectors Society, New York, issued 60 examples in bronze, 30 examples in stainless steel, 70 examples in sterling silver, and 12 artist's proofs in each metal; with the permission of Duchamp's widow, the edition was completed posthumously in 1981-82 to the editions of 100 each).

Full Cataloguing

$3,000 - 5,000 

Sold for $6,858

Contact Specialist
212 940 1220


Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 18 - 20 April 2023