September 13, 2006

Beyond Limits :: Sotheby's at Chatsworth

In my house, one of the clearest signs of the start of the new fall season is a sudden proliferation of catalogues in the mail. Not just the L.L. Bean Holiday book, but the onslaught of auction catalogues as the competing houses try to lure bidders back into the sale room.

But today's delivery brought a totally new concept in auction promotion. In a remarkable partnership of public and private enterprise, Sotheby's London has joined with the Duke of Devonshire to provide a unique venue for experiencing outdoor sculpture at its finest. For 2 months, the magnificent gardens of Chatsworth, in Derbyshire, will be the setting for 27 large scale sculptures that are being offered for private sale by the famous auction house.

Talk about contrasts! The historic home and estate of Chatsworth go back at least 450 years, and are the epitome of tradition in the classic English aristocratic style. Think Brideshead. The oldest of the sculptures being exhibited dates only to 1925 with the majority less than 20 years old. Think Frank Geary's Guggenheim in Bilbao. And yet it works. The lavishly illustrated, full color catalogue shows several shots of each of the pieces installed in its temporary location. The juxtaposition of oversized Modern and Contemporary art set against the backgrounds of formal gardens and stately manor is breathtaking.

From the Surrealist elegance of Salvador Dali's bronze "Newton de Gala", 1969/1985, pictured above left, to the ethereal beauty of Antony Gromley's stainless steel "Domain LIII", 2006, perched atop the parapet as seen to the right, this collection is itself a study in contrasts. Mass versus space, color versus light, abstract versus realistic, all together in one gorgeous setting. The public is invited to visit this magnificent sculpture garden comprising works by Aristide Maillol, Jean Dubuffet, Keith Haring, Robert Indiana, and Joan Miro, among others, from now until the end of October when they will be sold and removed to their new homes. I'm sure Chatsworth will never be the same!

Dale Chihuly's "Sunset Boat", 2006, floats serenely on the Canal Pond

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