How to Collect Art and Design: Your Guide to the Art and Design Auction

Venturi, Breuer, and Albert Paley

Learn about some of the upcoming highlights in our September 15 Art and Design auction.

08/26/2021     News and Film, 20th Century and Contemporary Design

Whether you’re a new collector seeking an affordable entry point or a seasoned expert looking for a fresh addition to your collection, Freeman’s auctions offer a range of options. With focused insight from our specialists, our Collector’s Guides help you navigate the market to find the perfect piece. Here, Freeman’s Art and Design specialists weigh in on highlights from its upcoming auction.

Collect the Collections

Freeman’s September 15 Art and Design auction features fine examples from some of the biggest names in 20th-century art and design, from Robert Rauschenberg and Sol LeWitt to Richard Artschwager and Charles Eames. This range of works offers buyers the unique opportunity to collect works that have been recognized as distinguished and genre-defining by leading institutions around the world; some of the works on offer can be found in the permanent collections of such museums.

Albert Paley, Pair of "Sunrise" Candleholders

Lot 51 | Albert Paley, Pair of "Sunrise" Candleholders, Designed for the American Ballet Theater, 1993. $3,000 - 5,000


The work of Philadelphia-born Albert Paley, a celebrated metalworker and sculptor, has been met with worldwide acclaim throughout his career. After receiving his MFA from the Tyler School of Art and making his mark as a jewelry-maker in the 1960s and 70s, Paley received a major commission from the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C., where he went on to create the museum’s iconic Portal Gates, which the Washington Post deemed “one of the most important iron and brass works of art since Louis Sullivan.” Paley’s work in Art and Design is equally elegant, albeit smaller-scale: his pair of “Sunrise” candleholders, created in 1993, were designed for the American Ballet Theater (Lot 51; estimate: $3,000-5,000).


Robert Venturi, Set of Four "Chippendale" Chairs

Lot 61 | Robert Venturi, Set of Four "Chippendale" Chairs, Knoll International, 1980s. $8,000 - 12,000


Paley isn’t the only artist in Art and Design to court the attention of major museums. The work of Robert Venturi—another artist with deep Philadelphia roots, and an icon of mass-produced, Postmodern design—has found its place in the collections of several international institutions. Venturi’s “Chippendale” chairs are one such example, reaching back to the 18th century for design inspiration while using material—laminate, plywood, and leather—that is decidedly distinct from what early American furnituremakers would ever choose. This chair model is found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cooper Hewitt, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art; a set of four of Venturi’s design, created in the 1980s, is on offer at Freeman’s at a pre-sale estimate of $8,000-12,000 (Lot 61).

Marcel Breuer, Dormitory Chair for Rhoads Hall

Lot 82 | Marcel Breuer, Dormitory Chair for Rhoads Hall, Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania, 1938. $3,000 - 5,000


In another fine example of functional design, Freeman’s upcoming auction features a birch dormitory chair designed by Marcel Breuer for Rhoads Hall at Bryn Mawr College. Like Venturi, Breuer is another icon of 20th century design whose work spanned the fields of both architecture and art/design works. In 1938, Pennsylvania’s Bryn Mawr College commissioned Breuer to design a suite of furniture for the rooms of a new dormitory. The suite—which consisted of a dresser, desk, chair, hanging bookcase, and mirror—was Breuer’s first furniture commission in the United States. The furniture remained in use at the college until 1998, when the dormitory was renovated; elements of the suite, including a desk and chair, are now housed in the permanent collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. For serious design collectors, these two chairs (Lots 82 and 83; estimate: $3,000-5,000) present an opportunity to own not only an iconic design by Breuer, but a piece of history.



View the rest of our September 15 Art and Design auction.



Have something similar? Get in touch with our 20th Century and Contemporary Design department to request a complimentary auction estimate.