23 October 2017


The Modern Form: Property from the Collection of Betty and Stanley Sheinbaum

Over 40 Works from the Distinguished Collection to be Sold Across Sales 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Design, and Editions

NEW YORK – 23 OCTOBER 2017 – Phillips is pleased to announce the sale of works from the collection of Betty and Stanley Sheinbaum of Los Angeles. Married for over fifty years, the Sheinbaums devoted their lives to both the visual arts and political activism, dedicating themselves passionately to human rights, social justice, education, politics and world affairs, while also opening two galleries devoted to American craft. Over the course of their lives, they also amassed an acclaimed collection of 20th-century art, with works by Henry Moore, Robert Motherwell, Henri Matisse, Richard Diebenkorn, Marino Marini, Pablo Picasso, and Peter Voulkos, among others. In all, Phillips will offer over 40 works from their collection across the auction house’s upcoming sales of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Design, and Editions.

Blake Koh, Phillips’ Regional Director, Los Angeles, said,
“Uniquely bringing together representative works of modern art and American craft, the Betty and Stanley Sheinbaum Collection is testament to the remarkable foresight, discerning eye and, above all, passion, with which these two collectors pursued their love for art. We have seen a remarkable demand for high quality works of 20th century art since introducing the category to our sales in 2015 and we are pleased to have the opportunity to bring these impressive works at auction, many for the first time ever.”

20th Century & Contemporary Art

Robert Motherwell’s A Sculptor’s Picture, With Blue leads the collection and will be offered in the New York Evening Sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art on 16 November. The work is a tour-de-force from one of the most pivotal years in the Abstract Expressionist’s personal life and career. The monumental painting was created in New York in the spring of 1958 around the time of Motherwell’s nuptials to Helen Frankenthaler. Imbued with the sense of figuration so characteristic for Motherwell’s abstract compositions, this powerful work visualizes the couple’s union with the two black amorphous forms merging through the force of splattering brushstrokes. A Sculptor’s Picture, With Blue represents the culmination of a discrete group of three paintings completed during the joyous period in spring of 1958. As the only work to remain in private hands, its companions now reside in prestigious permanent collections. Unseen to the public in more than three decades, the work was acquired by Betty Sheinbaum directly from the artist’s 1959 solo exhibition at the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York. Remaining in her collection since, Betty loaned the work to major exhibitions at the Pasadena Art Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Art and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution.

Also included in the November Evening Sale in New York is Richard Diebenkorn’s Driveway. Painted in 1956 during Richard Diebenkorn’s famed Berkeley years, Driveway epitomizes the early stages of the artist’s shift from abstraction to representation, which would cement him as one of the most significant American painters of the past century. Despite presenting itself with the immediacy of what appear spontaneous brushstrokes, Driveway is in fact the culmination of a laborious creative process that saw Diebenkorn, like fellow Abstract Expressionist painter Willem de Kooning, successively and continuously rework the composition with impasto paint– discovering and developing his ideas within the very process of painting. Betty and Stanley Sheinbaum acquired the work directly from Diebenkorn’s solo exhibition at the Poindexter Gallery in New York in 1958.

Henri Matisse’s bronze sculpture Le Tiaré will also be offered in the November Evening Sale. A remarkable example of Henri Matisse’s mature sculptural oeuvre, Le Tiaré is celebrated as the apex in his pursuit of organic simplicity. Conceived in Nice in 1930 and cast in the months before his passing in November 1954, the present bronze was purchased by Betty Sheinbaum from famed art dealer Erick Estorick in 1960. Inspired by the tiari flower worn by Tahitian women in their hair, this work is a testament to the radical turning point in Matisse’s mature career, prompted by his trip to Tahiti in 1930. The trip revitalized Matisse, who continuously sketched and drew the island’s lush tropical vegetation – ushering in a wholly new formulation of his art.

Works by Henry Moore, Henri Matisse, Hans Arp, and Edouard Vuillard, among others, will also be sold in the New York sales of 20th Century & Contemporary Art. Following the New York auctions, a Family Group sculpture by Henry Moore will be offered in Phillips Hong Kong Evening Sale on 26 November 2017. Executed in 1945, the work has remained in the Sheinbaum collection since 1959. Eight additional works by Henry Moore and Marino Marini will also be included in the March 2018 Evening Sale in London.


The Sheinbaums were tremendous proponents of American craft during their lifetimes. Recognizing the lack of exhibition venues for craft, the couple founded two highly successful galleries exclusively devoted to contemporary craft on the West and East Coasts, both of which were operated by the nonprofit Fairtree Fine Crafts Institute established in 1971. Six works from the Betty and Stanley Sheinbaum Collection will be included in the Design auction on 12 December in New York. Leading the group will be Peter Voulkos’ Rondena, executed in 1958. Widely acknowledged as the leading figure of postwar American ceramics, Voulkos was keen to produce ceramic sculptures on a large scale and was particularly interested in the relationship between color and form. Exhibited in the seminal solo show Ceramics, Sculpture and Painting by Peter H. Voulkos at the Pasadena Art Museum in 1958–1959, Rondena belongs to a small group of works that radically changed the concept of ceramics. With echoes of de Kooning’s women and Matisse’s cut-outs, these works are widely considered some of his best and most historically significant. Rondena has remained in the Sheinbaum family collection since it was acquired by them in 1959, just a year after its creation. Further works from the Sheinbaums’ collection to be offered in the Design sale include Viola Frey’s World Civilization #1, Peter Voulkos’ Flying Red Through Black, and a group of 17 sculptures by David Gilhooly.


A wonderful group of ceramics by Pablo Picasso will be offered in the London Editions auction on 25 January. The group includes a selection of platters, vases, and pitchers, all executed between 1947 and 1969 during his famous collaboration with Suzanne and Georges Ramié and their craftsman of the Madoura studio in Vallauris, France. It has been often said that Picasso’s works are “passionately autobiographical” and nowhere is this more evident than in his body of ceramic experimentation. A period of intense and vibrant production is represented by this eclectic group, which typifies Picasso’s increasing virtuosity in the medium, while underlining his gift of description. Surrounded by a menagerie of birds and flora in his home, and inspired by the rich lexicon of mythological imagery, these complex works use both gouging and layering alongside gloss and matte finishes to demonstrate the rich arsenal of techniques that Picasso employed to create textural variety. The group is an important reminder of Picasso’s ability to apply his prodigious talents to every medium as a true innovator, with a unique ability to capture, transform and project his interior vision alongside the observed world.

About Betty & Stanley Sheinbaum

Betty Sheinbaum was born 1920 to Harry Warner, the first president of Warner Bros. Pictures. She voraciously dedicated herself to art throughout her entire life - both as a prolific painter and as a young collector of modern art. At the young age of 20, Betty started her collection with maquettes by Henry Moore she discovered on a trip to England. Betty was not only one of the earliest American collectors of Henry Moore’s work, but was also an ardent supporter of the then emerging, and now infamous, New York School - adding masterworks by Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, William Baziotes, and Richard Diebenkorn to her growing collection, which also included some of the most important 20th-century modern artists, including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall and Hans Arp. In 1964, Betty married economicst Stanley Sheinbaum, with whom she embarked upon a path of political activism. In the 1960s they helped coordinate the release of future Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou when he was held prisoner and, in the 1970s, they played an important role in the Pentagon Papers case. Later, Stanley held the position of Chairman of the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California and, following the Rodney King riots, became President of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners. Exemplifying a deeply personal and democratic vision, the collection that Betty and Stanley Sheinbaum carefully amassed over the course of their lifetime demonstrates the same unwavering commitment that defined their shared legacy of political activism. The Sheinbaums stand as examples of true connoisseurs and patrons who immersed themselves in their own time and place, while still also understanding the trajectory of the art historical canon.


Phillips is a leading global platform for buying and selling 20th and 21st century art and design. With dedicated expertise in the areas of 20th Century and Contemporary Art, Design, Photographs, Editions, Watches, and Jewelry, Phillips offers professional services and advice on all aspects of collecting. Auctions and exhibitions are held at salerooms in New York, London, Geneva, and Hong Kong, while clients are further served through representative offices based throughout Europe, the United States and Asia. Phillips also offers an online auction platform accessible anywhere in the world. In addition to providing selling and buying opportunities through auction, Phillips brokers private sales and offers assistance with appraisals, valuations, and other financial services.
Visit www.phillips.com for further information.

*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium; prices achieved include the hammer price plus buyer’s premium.

PRESS CONTACTS: NEW YORK - Michael Sherman, Chief Communications Officer msherman@phillips.com +1 212 940 1384
LONDON - Katie Carder, Press Manager, EMEA kcarder@phillips.com +44 20 7901 7938
NEW YORK - Jaime Israni, Senior Public Relations Specialist jisrani@phillips.com +1 212 940 1398

HEADQUARTERS: LONDON - 30 Berkeley Square, London W1J 6EX | NEW YORK - 450 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10022
VISIT US AT: www.phillips.com
FOLLOW US ON: Twitter | Instagram | Vimeo | Facebook | Pinterest | Tumblr | LinkedIn