Douglas S. Cramer with Ellsworth Kelly in Paris, 1994
When it came to '70s TV, Douglas S. Cramer was the king. He produced so many smash hits from the era, including Star Trek, Brady Bunch, Wonder Woman and Dynasty. What did he do with all his TV money? Well, he curated one heck of a personal art collection, and come November, you can get a piece of that collection at Sotheby’s Contemporary Evening Auction in New York.
Cramer's career counts more than 3,000 hours of televised entertainment, and his art collection was just as esteemed. Cramer was a passionate collector, generous museum trustee and visionary. His collection of contemporary art spans across styles and generations, uniting great masters of 20th century Post-War and artists still creating today.
Roy Lichtenstein "Two Paintings: Craig..." 1983
The selection includes works by Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, Cecily Brown and Ellsworth Kelly. Lichtenstein’s 1983 piece "Two Paintings: Craig…" is a major highlight, estimated at a value of $12-18 million. The iconic piece is a testament to the artist’s career-long exploration of pop and the meaning of art.
Highlights from the collection will be on public view in Hong Kong until Oct. 11, in London from Oct. 22 to 25, and Los Angeles from Oct.r 28 to 31 before returning to New York ahead of the Contemporary Evening Auction on Nov. 18. Additional works from the collection can be found in Sotheby’s November Contemporary Art Day auction the following day. An online auction from Dec. 9 to 17 will auction even more collection pieces.
“There’s something wonderful in how the art is—well—frozen," Cramer told the New York Times in 1993. "I’ll spend two or three or four hours looking at film, at moving images. But when I come home, the images stop,”
Ellsworth Kelly's "White Relief Over Black" 2012
His passion for art translated into a longstanding relationship with the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, which he helped found, and many other prominent museums to which he generously donated. His major gifts include Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1983 "Hollywood Africans" to the Whitney Museum of American Art, and Roy Lichtenstein’s 1991 "Interior with Waterlilies" to the Tate Gallery of Modern Art.
Lichtenstein’s "Two Paintings: Craig…" displays common themes from the artist’s pop style and features two of his most iconic motifs: the comic strip blonde and the brushstroke. Breaking the barrier between "high" and "low" culture, the work explores the distinction between fine art and commercial imagery. This painting is the last of Lichtenstein's archetypal blonde works and the epitome of the Post-War American art scene.
Other works for sale by Lichtenstein include the 1997 painting Small House, estimated at $600,000-800,000, from the small house series. An important late-career breakthrough, this series explored illusionistic perspective.
Cecily Brown "Spree" 1999
Cramer also took great interest in Ellsworth Kelly’s work and held pieces dating from his early, radical works in the late 1950s up to this past decade. The collection includes two standout pieces that Cramer acquired shortly after they were completed: "Blue Panel with Green Curve" and "White Relief over Black," estimated at $2.5 to $3.5 million.
Kelly’s Blue Panel with "Green Curve" from 1989 showcases the artist’s talents as a colorist and his mastery of formal composition. Measuring just less than six feet tall, the work explores asymmetry with minimal abstraction. The 2012 piece "White Relief over Black" is a testament to the artist’s innovation with form, line and color in the purest shapes and hues.
Ed Ruscha "Face It" 1967
Further works featured in November's Contemporary Art Day auction include Lichtenstein’s "Imperfect Painting" (estimate $700,000-1,000,000), Andy Warhol’s "Dollar Sign" (estimate $450,000-650,000), and Frank Stella’s "Green Solitaire 3X" (estimate $300,000-400,000).
Jim Dine’s "Venus," Martin Eder’s "Mascara (Dream Endlessly)," and Ellsworth Kelly’s "Cyclamen" are each estimated to sell at $25,000-35,000. More will be on offer in a dedicated, online auction this December. Read more about the auctions via Sotheby's.
Jasper Johns "Bushbaby" 2005
Photography by: Courtesy Sotheby's