“One of the preeminent collectors of his generation, George Kravis was a delightfully constant presence in the field of 20th century design for several decades,” Heritage Auctions Design Director Brent Lewis said. “He was a rare collector, filled with passion and knowledge, fulfilling a drive to acquire and preserve, not to value and trade. His concerns were not those of the market, but those of history: he was focused on an object’s influence and significance.
“In as much as his name carries significant weight in the field, it is due to his connoisseurship and his unique ability to surround himself with other experts in the field that allowed him to amass such a large and significant collection. The overall quality of the works he collected themselves stands apart. Even a cursory look at the collection reveals the curiosity of a collector drawn to both iconic works of 20th century design, especially to objects made in America, but also to the unusual and unexpected objects.”
Among the top lots from the Kravis collection in the upcoming auction:
A Vladimir Kagan Wall-Mounted Console Table, circa 1950 (estimate: $5,000-7,000) is an exceptional example of the artist’s ability to use wood to create fluid furniture styles. Known best for his avant-garde design style, the German-born Kagan has enjoyed a growing international reach, earning commissions from some of the world’s top interior designers and architects. Measuring 46-1/2 inches long and 12 inches wide, the table is inscribed “KAGAN DREYFUSS NEW YORK, A VLADIMIR KAGAN DESIGN” and features the artist’s signature blend of sophisticated aesthetic with comfort and modernistic sensibility.
David Hockney’s Swimming Pool Carpet, 1988, Vorwerk & Co. (estimate: $4,000-6,000) is made of tufted wool, measures 118-1/2 by 77 inches and is inscribed with control number RO22236 to verso. Created by a British painter, draftsman, printmaker, stage designer and photographer who is considered an important contributor to the 1960s pop art movement, this carpet was part of a collection of carpet designs Vorwerk produced in collaboration with a series of renowned artists.
Paul László’s Pair of Arm Chairs, circa 1940 and Coffee Table, circa 1948, Herman Miller each carries a pre-auction estimate of $3,000-5,000. The Hungarian-born architect and interior designer had a career that stretched out over eight decades and earned him international popularity. László believed strongly in the relationship between artist and client, enough so that he earned a reputation for declining to work with certain clients. Photographs, renderings and descriptions of his work appear in books and periodicals since the 1920s.
“George believed that good design contributed to a better life,” said David A Hanks, curator for the Kravis Design Center. “As he put it, ‘we can actually improve our prospects for the future with our understanding and recognition of the importance of design.’ For George, design was everywhere, and his collection reflected his eye for the best.”