The Virginia Zabriskie Collection

Coming to Auction in 2021

“My ability to interpret and criticize art grew faster than my ability to make it.”

Virginia Zabriskie

We are honored to offer the collection of Virginia Zabriskie in a special single-owner auction in 2021. Virginia Zabriskie’s (1927-2019) personal collection was not only manifested in her discerning taste, but during a pioneering career spanning more than five decades marked by audacity and innovation in a field that was not always encouraging to professional women.

Paule Vézalay, Composition Sketch, gouache, watercolor and pencil, 1936. Estimate $3,000 to $5,000.

Prints & Drawings

Initially acquiring her New York gallery in 1954 from a graduate school acquaintance for merely $1—at the age of 27, which made her among the youngest gallerists in New York—Virginia Zabriskie inherited a promising roster of young artists along with the financial hardships that came with being a fledgling dealer (she used the former gallery’s letterhead until it ran out). She had dreamed of becoming an artist herself, but changed her mind in college, deciding to pursue art history instead: “My ability to interpret and criticize art grew faster than my ability to make it.”

A natural entrepreneur, Ms. Zabriskie did not yield to market trends; rather she created her own, generally eschewing the Abstract Expressionist, Pop and Minimalist mainstream. Her connoisseurship and faith in artists’ visions informed her groundbreaking exhibitions which were developed around juxtaposition of media and historical eras. She is responsible for both launching careers of artists and bringing forgotten, unappreciated artists to light. For the fortunate chosen artists who were part of Ms. Zabriskie’s roster, the gallerist was a true business partner and confidante with steadfast loyalty. The auction will include a wide array of these artists, including works from the early to mid-1900s by Alexander Archipenko, Ralston Crawford, Elie Nadelman, Joseph Stella and Abraham Walkowitz, to the contemporary artists of her day such as Robert De Niro Sr., Mary Frank, Lester Johnson, Milton Resnick, Lucas Samaras and Richard Stankiewicz. 

Lucas Samaras, Still Life #2, color pastels, watercolor and gouache, 1958. Estimate $7,000 to $10,000.

Fine Photography

Most notably, Ms. Zabriskie is credited with bringing American fine art photography to Europe at a time when the medium was still considered vanguard. When she opened her Paris gallery in 1977—initially to showcase photography exclusively—there was only one other Parisian gallery doing so at the time, and when she closed the gallery two decades later, she was awarded a medal of honor by the City of Paris. Both of Virginia Zabriskie’s galleries drew acclaim, and her brand became synonymous with expert curation and re-discovery, especially in the area of Surrealist collage and photography. A section of the auction will be devoted to her significant Surrealist and Dada works by Enrico Donati, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray and others. In keeping with her diverse and cross-Atlantic legacy, we will offer masterful photographic works by Eugène Atget, Brassaï, Harry Callahan, Robert Frank and Francois Kollar, as well as portfolios from Laure Albin Guillot, books from Georges Hugnet, and many more.

Wilfred Zogbaum, Composition, oil on board, circa 1935. Estimate $2,000 to $3,000.

Though Ms. Zabriskie had said “to survive is to succeed”, it is universally acknowledged that through her unwavering vision, she left a legacy that has transformed our industry which will survive for generations to come.

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