East Enders Lead November Contemporary and Modern Sales

A Lichtenstein painting and a collection of works on paper on the block
Roy Lichtenstein’s “Female Head” is one of several headlining artworks with Southampton ties up for sale at Sotheby’s auction house in November. Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s November sales of modern and contemporary art will be enlivened and enriched by the inclusion of a significant collection of works on paper owned by Dr. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel and Carl Spielvogel, who have long had a house in Southampton.

The collectors have focused much of their attention on the pastels, watercolors, gouaches, pen-and-ink, and charcoal drawings of the superstars of modernism, including Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, and Joan Miro from the early years in France, to the American masters Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, Cy Twombly, Jasper Johns, and Roy Lichtenstein. 

Their sizable collection of Mr. Johns’s work includes examples from his “Numbers” and “Flag” series. The Pollock drawing is one of the artist’s later works, when he became taken with the absorption of ink on mulberry paper.

Sotheby’s describes the collection as “meticulously built” and unprecedented, with an “emphasis on the highest quality and rarity throughout.” The couple plan to use proceeds to benefit their foundation, which supports causes related to science and medicine, educational reform and innovation, and cultural projects. 

They have spent much of their professional life serving the public and promoting culture. Dr. Diamonstein-Spielvogel has served as a White House staff assistant, the first director of cultural affairs in New York City, the first woman vice chair of the United States Commission of Fine Arts, New York City Landmarks Preservation commissioner, and chairwoman of the New York State Council on the Arts. Ambassador Carl Spielvogel is a board member of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Philharmonic Symphony Society of New York, and the Asia Society. In addition, he had a long career in advertising, marketing, and investment management, helping found companies that continue to bear his name.

In a press release, Dr. Diamonstein-Spielvogel said “Consistent with our long-held view that we are, each of us, temporary custodians of all we possess, we must treat stewardship with great care. It is our hope that future collectors will experience genuine delight from the works presented, and that through the Diamonstein Spielvogel Foundation, the artists represented will derive great satisfaction from the fact that many others will benefit for many years to come from the future exchange of ideas, staunch adherence to intellectual and cultural excellence, and a healthy disregard for the impossible.”  

This fall, highlights from the collection will be exhibited in Sotheby’s galleries in Hong Kong, London, Paris, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago before going on view in full in New York City on Oct. 27. The collection will be included in the larger sale of Impressionist and Modern Art to be held on Nov. 14 and 15 and the Contemporary Art sale on Nov. 16 and 17.

In the Nov. 16 sale, Sotheby’s is also featuring “Female Head,” a 1977 painting by Roy Lichtenstein, a longtime resident of Southampton. The painting, from what some call his Surrealist period, is expected to sell for between $10 million and $15 million. It was acquired by the Leo Castelli Gallery and has been since held by Elizabeth R. Rea and the late Michael M. Rea, who also amassed a notable art collection in their lifetimes. 

According to Sotheby’s, “Female Head” is “one of [Lichtenstein’s] most complex meditations on ‘art about art.’ ” It is also “a visual tour of Roy Lichtenstein’s oeuvre; from the signature blonde to the female figure, the Ben-Day dots to the brushstroke, and finally the mirror to the picture frame, all of his trademarks are present in this work.”

Ms. Rea is a fine art photographer who has worked as a freelance and associated curator on many museum exhibitions, often focused on the work of Lichtenstein, who died in 1997. Her career included stints at the Museum of Modern Art and at Castelli’s gallery and she served as a director of an adjunct gallery of Castelli’s devoted to Joseph Cornell’s work. She serves the Peggy Guggenheim Advisory Board in Venice and Symphony Space in New York, and is an honorary trustee of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.

A portion of the proceeds from this sale will also benefit a foundation. In this case, it is the Dungannon Foundation, which is the sponsor of the Rea Award for the Short Story. The painting will be on view in London before it is exhibited in New York prior to the sale.