Johnathan Becker, known for his portraits of artists, worked at Vanity Fair for thirty years. In 1988, he photographed Robert Mapplethorpe on the occasion of his first (and last, as Mapplethorpe passed away shortly thereafter) retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art. The image in the present lot accompanied a feature article about the lauded exhibition and the acclaimed artist written by Dominick Dunne for Vanity Fair. In the article, Dunne writes:

That summer night at the Whitney Museum, there were sighs of relief when [Mapplethorpe] arrived for the opening, having been released from St. Vincent’s Hospital only days before. He was in a wheelchair, surrounded by members of his entourage, carrying a cane with a death’s-head top and wearing a stylish dinner jacket and black velvet slippers with his initials embroidered in gold on them—a vastly different uniform from the black leather gear that had become his trademark. For those who had not seen the once handsome figure in some time, the deterioration of his health and physical appearance was apparent and shocking. His hair looked wispy. His thin neck protruded from the wing collar of his dinner shirt like a tortoise’s from its shell. But even ill, he was a man who commanded attention, and who expected it.

“Robert Mapplethorpe's Proud Finale” by Dominick DunneVanity Fair, February 1989

David & Vivian Campbell

20th Century Collectors and Philanthropists

David and Vivian Campbell were prominent philanthropists of the arts in Canada and collectors of early modern masters. Over the course of half a century, David and Vivian built a collection around intimate and dazzling works by giants of early 20th century art—Picasso, Matisse, Gris, Gauguin, Munch and Rodin among them—as well as later 20th century artists such as Will Barnet, Saul Steinberg and David Hockney, who grew out of the traditions of earlier masters, with a reverence for landscape and portraiture.

The scope of the century, along with the Campbells' distinct tastes within its vastness, are presented in the selection offered here; a landscape study of Le Pont Neuf by Paul Signac from 1895, the earliest work in the sale, shares the same musicality of color as Andy Warhol's screenprint of Beethoven from nearly one hundred years later. Portraits by Matisse and Hockney, done forty years apart, both present subjects that are quirky and grounded, executed with an economy and confidence of line. Irving Penn photographs Igor Stravinsky with the same adulatory nod seen in a portrait by André Kertész of his predecessor, Brassaï. An exuberant collage by Picasso celebrates the birth of his son, while Old Man's Afternoon by Will Barnet meditates on loss and aging. A thread evident throughout the selection is the ability for the art that we love to reflect the life that we live.

David and Vivian Campbell in their home in Toronto, 1997,
with Picasso's Jacqueline tricottant. Image: Jeff Goode.