The Mark Isaacson
and Greg Nacozy Collection

The Collection of Mark Isaacson and Greg Nacozy includes over two-hundred works from one of the most significant figures in mid-century collecting. Mark established the influential Fifty/50 gallery in New York in 1981 (later partnering with Mark McDonald and Ralph Cutler in 1983), which shaped the tastes and collecting habits of many and brought furniture, decorative arts and jewelry from the 1930s, 40s and 50s to the forefront of the market at a time when they were largely overlooked.

Greg Nacozy and Mark Isaacson in Venice, c. 1985 

Fifty/50’s and Mark’s legacy is most closely associated with bringing Italian art glass to the United States (Mark even advised the MET on their Italian glass collection) and raising the profile of mid-century furniture and American studio jewelry and ceramics; iconic examples of each are represented in this auction, including an early Rudder Stool by Isamu Noguchi, Charlotte Perriand’s and Pierre Jeanneret’s Bahut No. 2, a Gerrit Rietveld Zig-Zag chair, pottery by Edwin and Mary Scheier and Fausto Melotti, and Venini glassworks.

The most exciting aspects of this auction are the more intimate ones—the works from Mark's and Greg's personal collection that speak to Mark's eclectic taste, his boundless curiosity and sensitivity toward objects and art, and how generous he was in sharing his interests with others and letting them share with him. Standouts include several works by Robert Mapplethorpe—who was close friends with Mark, photographed several Fifty/50 catalogs and got many of the ceramics in his photographs from the gallery—the ecstatic wood construction Wild Plant by Leo Amino, a painting by Ralston Crawford of a spectacularly minimalist skyscraper façade, and photographic works by Man Ray, Edward Weston, Lynn Davis and Dorothea Lange.

Mark with Ed and Mary Scheier; Robert Mapplethorpe and Mark

This auction also features many works that tie together the thread of Mark’s collecting practices, going beyond the downtown New York sensibilities of the 1980s and showing the scope of eras and cultures that interested him; the sgraffito incisions on a 1940s Scheier vase echo the geometric features of a Senufo Kpeliye'e mask, the entrancing and complex shadows of a grain elevator in a photograph by Ralston Crawford contrast with the severe plainness of a New York City step-back building captured by Walker Evans, and the radical gestures of gay image making are seen in the works of George Platt Lynes, Paul Cadmus and Robert Loughlin. One of the artists in this sale, George Dureau, a photographer from New Orleans (where Greg is also from) who greatly influenced Mapplethorpe early in his career, perhaps best captures the spirit of this collection, saying about his own work:

“I live a warm, involved, humanist sort of life. There are lots of people passing through it. I have exciting experiences and learn things about people. They always go into my art. I cannot have an experience and it not go into my art.”
Mark and a friend at Brimfield; Mark's and Greg's apartment; Mark and Greg at The Armory Show

Fifty/50 gallery reshaped the collecting market during its twelve-year existence, closing in 1993 after Mark passed away from AIDS; his partner Greg has cared for the collection since.  The Collection of Mark Isaacson and Greg Nacozy offers an opportunity to see a short but impactful life lived through an enthusiasm for art and design, one that inspired many to see and appreciate objects and live with them as fully as Mark did.

Joan Miró

Joan Miró was born in Barcelona, Spain in 1893. Although his parents wanted their son to be a businessman, Miró was drawn to art, and so he studied painting at Francesc Galí’s Escola d’Art in Barcelona from 1912 to 1915. In 1920, Miró moved to Paris where he was quickly caught up in the fiercely cultural atmosphere. He struck up a friendship with fellow expat Pablo Picasso, who took Miró under his wing and introduced him to many of the artists and writers living in the city. Miró soon became friends with Ernest Hemingway, who bought his masterpiece The Farm in 1921. Famed surrealist poet André Breton and Miró met in 1924 and Breton felt that Miró’s artwork “was the most surrealist of all.”

Despite his association with the Surrealist movement, Miró’s painting process was far from unconscious; rather, his work resulted from a precise methodology. Combining the formal elements of cubism with biomorphic forms, Miró created works that referenced his home country of Spain through abstraction. After the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, his work began to display sharply political messages. His mural, The Reaper, condemned Franco's regime and was shown at the Spanish Pavilion in the World’s Fair of 1937 in Paris. In 1939 when the Nazis arrived in Paris, Miró was forced to flee to the South of France. The first retrospective of Miró’s work in the United States was held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1941. In 1958, Miró was commissioned to make two significant murals for UNESCO in Paris, for which he received the Guggenheim International Award. Inspired by the Paris student riots of 1968, Miró began to create bombastic paintings in which he would fling paint onto the canvas. During the 1970s, he became intrigued with the process of bookmaking, and he created over 250 illustrated artist’s books. Miró died in 1983, but he left behind a influential legacy and is one of the most well-known artists of the 20th century.

Auction Results Joan Miró