A Tribute to Michael Crichton
Works From the Collection of Michael Crichton
6.30 pm, May 11, 2010
10 am, May 12, 2010
Christie's Hosts Exhibitions of The Michael Crichton Collection in Los Angeles and New York Prior to Its Sale at Christie’s, Rockefeller Center, New York, on May 11 and 12, 2010
“He would quote Aristotle: ‘Your soul never thinks without a picture.’ And it is so true. When words are your medium, to have such an appreciation for the visual is remarkable,” says Taylor Crichton, about her father Michael Crichton in Christie's catalogue, “Works From the Collection of Michael Crichton.”
By Michele Leight
Walking through the exhibition of highlights from this wonderful collection with my son, I remarked to Brett Gorvy, Deputy Chairman, Christie's Americas, that it was quite a coup for Christie's to get The Michael Crichton Collection.
He smiled and said: “We worked very hard to get it.”
Co-Head, and Deputy Chairman of Christies
In his introduction to the Christie's catalogue “Works From The Collection of Michael Crichton,” entitled “The Reluctant Collector,” Mr. Gorvy wrote:
is not often that one has the unique opportunity to be
the first to tell the story of an extraordinary man, whose books line
airport newsstand in the world, and who wrote one of the biggest movies
time, and yet whose private passion for art is little known. Few people
the art world will recall that Michael Crichton wrote the catalogue for
Johns’ major retrospective at the Whitney
Jasper Johns's “Flag,” from his famous series of flag paintings are considered icons of Pop Art that ended the supremacy of Abstract Expressionism and paved the way for the everyday consumer images of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. Michael Crichton acquired “Flag” over 30 years ago directly from the artist.The small painting has an estimate of $10,000,000 to $15,000,000 and it sold for $28,642,500 including the buyer's premium, shattering the previous world auction record for the artist of $17,400,000 set May 16, 2007 at Christie's New York.
The auction of the 31 Crichton lots was extremely successful with all lots selling for a total of $93,323,500, far exceeding the pre-sale high estimate of $69,660,000.The Crichton collection was the first part of the evening's auction of contemporary art. The total of both parts was $231,907,000 for 74 offered lots. See the separate article at The City Review on the second part of the Contemporary Art auction.
Amy Cappellazzo, the international co-head and deputy chair of post-war and contemporary art at Christie's, remarked after the auction that "it was a spectacular night, adding that Americans were 72 percent of the buyers and Europeans 21 percent. "People want quality and the market is strong and not an unnatural exuberance," she said.
Brett Gorvy, who is also the international co-head and deputy chairman of post-war and contemporary art at Christie's, said that the auction room was particularly lively with almost half of the winner bids coming from the room as opposed to the telephones. He noted that the turnouts at the exhibitions were "astonishing" and "like a volcano" with "anticipation so high and so many new buyers."
Lot 9, "Trapeze," by Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008), oil and silkscreen inks on canvas in two parts, 120 by 48 inches, 1964, estimated $5,000,000 to $7,000,000, sold for $6,354,500 to the Gagosian Gallery
His wife Sherri Crichton says:
“The 'Flag' was Michael’s favorite object. It was the centerpiece of his art universe. Michael always wanted to share his art and paintings regularly went out on loan. But this he wouldn’t let out of the house.” (Christie's catalogue, “Works From The Collection of Michael Crichton)
Lot 15, "Mao," by Andy Warhol (1928-1987), synthetic polymer and silkscreen ink on canvas, 26 by 22 inches, 1973, estimated $700,000 to $900,000, sold for $2,378,500
Few writers of fiction have gripped
popular imagination as
Michael Crichton. His novels have sold more than 150 million copies
they have been translated into 36 languages, and many are well-known
blockbuster movies. He wrote and directed the classic film “The Great
Robbery,” with Sean Connery and Donald Sutherland. Whatever he touched
best-selling author and screenwriter, film director and producer
the public. Although he was personally intellectual, his body of work
universal appeal. He was a populist. Reaching the masses mattered to
1994 Michael Crichton became the only creative artist in
history to have a TV series (ER), a film (
Brett Gorvy standing next to Picasso's "Femme et Fillettes"
Lot 24, "Studio Painting," by Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008), combine painting, oil, charcoal, printed paper and fabric collage on canvas with metal, twine, sewn and stuffed fabric, in two parts, 75 1/2 by 73 by 6 inches, 1961, estimated $6,000,000 to $9,000,000, sold for $11,058,500
It was at home, with these paintings around him, that the master storyteller Michael Crichton wrote quietly, for hours, at his desk.
There are few people on
the planet that have not heard of or seen “
The director and film producer Steven Spielberg said:
talent out-scaled even his own dinosaurs of ‘
Lot 1, "Jim Beam - Model A Ford Pick-Up Truck," by Jeff Koons (b. 1955), stainless steel and bourbon, 6 3/4 by 16 1/2 by 6 1/2 inches, 1986, from an edition of three and one artist's proof, estimated $350,000 to $450,000, sold for $602,500
Michael Crichton brought dinosaurs so vibrantly to life that people that were not remotely interested in T-Rexes and Brontosauruses became fascinated by them. Through the largest creatures ever to walk the earth, and stories of a virus threatening to wipe out a community in “The Andromeda Strain” he gave us a sense of something much larger than ourselves - as art so often does. A story, film or great painting can trigger questions and release emotions buried deep inside us that often become submerged in the pressures of everyday life. Michael Crichton understood that.
The master printmaker Ken Tyler said: “Michael was a great student of human nature.”
Crichton was phenomenally good for the book
publishing, movie and toy business. I first became aware of how
stories were after seeing “
Lot 107, "Two Apples," by Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), oil and magna on canvas, 20 1/4 by 24 inches, 1972, estimated $400,000 to $600,000, day auction
When children stare you down and force promises out of you to buy them toy dinosaurs in return for all kinds of good behavior and homework with an intensity that only children have, a parent becomes curious – and awestruck.
How has this incredible storyteller been able to get a young boy interested in something as wonderful as pre-historic creatures that hold their own with Donkey Kong and Ninja Turtles?
Lot 6, "Voltage," by Ed Ruscha (b. 1937), oil on canvas, 30 by 28 inches, 1964, estimated $700,000 to $1,000,000, sold for $1,650,500
Although he was obsessed, I never minded listening about or buying the dinosaurs. I loved them. I felt they were educating my son, making him aware of the vast sweep of history and long lost civilizations. In our home they were alive and well, constantly moved around the house, being made to eat other dinosaurs and cornflakes, take baths, and roam among the bed sheets that were transformed in my son’s mind to the landscapes portrayed in the film. He was using his imagination.A formidable action figure of a T-Rex from “
Lot 30, "Alphabet/Good Humor Edition Model," by Claes Oldenberg (b.1929), polyurethane paint on cast resin with bronze, 35 1/2 by 20 by 11 1/8 inches, 1975, unique, estimated $200,000 to $300,000, sold for $962,500
“It was called the roaring, stomping T-Rex, but I called him RSTR. It was shorter. You paid $50 dollars for it in 1994,” he recalls in awe.” The other figures were about 12 dollars, but he, he, was fifty bucks. He could easily eat four of the twelve-dollar action figures.”
Lot 5, "Girl in Water," by Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), ink, graphite and paper collage on paper, 19 1//4 by 23 1/2 inches, 1968, estimated $800,000 to $1,200,000, sold for $1,874,500
It is incredible how a beloved toy from a beloved film based on a story about dinosaurs induces total recall, when the exact location of more mundane things like passports and wallets are often unknown. Once in a while, when the T-Rex did ferocious things, I had to explain that mothers are not always as enthusiastic about creatures eating people or each other as small boys are, but I am happy to know that some childhood toys are never discarded, even when the child is now six feet tall. It was one of the best investments I ever made. The hours of joy it gave my son are priceless.
He is now a young man of 24, and it was an easy sell to get him to view the art collection of Michael Crichton, the man that had given him access to all those marvelous dinosaurs.
Lot 16, "Fisherman Golfer" by Jeff Koons (b. 1955), stainless steel, 12 by 8 by 5 inches, 1986, number three from edition of three, estimated $250,000 to $350,000, sold for $434,500
“Michael Crichton collected art?” he asked, amazed. “Sure. I’d like to see his art.”
It is important to know that great art is a contender for the attention of the young amidst the bewildering audio-visual distractions they are bombarded with these days, many of them highly questionable in the opinion of mothers.
Lot 14, "Savarin (ULAE S36)," by Jasper Johns (b. 1930), unique monotype in colors on a lithographic base, 1982, 40 1/8 by 30 1/8 inches, estimated $250,000 to $350,000, sold for $1,314,500
“What is a readymade?” he asked, to which I replied “an object, something that is already there.”
“Oh, I get it,” he said, visibly relieved that the explanation was swift, not too wordy.
One does not want to drive anyone away from art with verbose interpretations about it that do not make sense, especially if they are young. Curiosity is a good beginning.
Lot 111, "Brushstroke," by Roy Lichtenstein, porcelain enamel on steel, 26 by 42 inches, 1965, from an edition of six, estimated $150,000 to $250,000, day auction
Michael Crichton said: “Johns’ work provokes a visual search and when confronted with his art, the characteristic posture of the viewer is one of searching. The search can take many forms. An effort to decipher a puzzle, to uncover a secret, to resolve the contradiction, to answer a question posed or implied by the canvas...and of course a lot of art is puzzling and ambiguous.” (Abridged transcript of Michael Crichton’s final lecture on Jasper Johns at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2008. Christie's catalogue)
Lot 27, "Push/Pull," by Mark Tansey (b. 1949), oil on canvas, 84 by 108 1/4 inches, 2003, estimated $800,000 to $1,200,000, sold for $3,218,500
any prompting, my son was drawn like a magnet to
Mark Tansey’s electrifying blue and white “Push/Pull,” 2005, a choice
not surprise me.
“This looks like it could be the cover of one of one of Michael Crichton’s books,” he said, impressed.
“The swimming/flying object is a Mercedes.” I said.
“How do you know that?” he asked.
I told him that Brett Gorvy talked about it at a press preview; I thought that was fun.
Having fun while learning new things has always been important to my son, as it is for most of us. It is the best way to learn anything.
Lot 28, "Figures in Landscape," by Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), oil, magna on canvas, 69 3/4 by 80 inches, 1977, estimated $2,500,000 to $3,500,000, sold for $4,338,500
Mike Tansey was surrounded by art and art history from a young age because his parents were art historians. Although his paintings may or may not look like the art his parents shared with him, he now draws on that rich resource, and transcribes his super-smart allegories to canvas about the meaning of art. In “Push/Pull,” he combines historical paintings with photographs from newspapers and magazines. In the catalogue there are reproductions of two photographs of collages he made in 2002, “Collage for Push/Pull #2” and “Collage for Push/Pull #3,” elements of which are incorporated into the final painting. There is more information about this and all the other “Works From the Michael Crichton Collection” in the print catalogue and e-catalogue on Christie's website, www.christies.com
Michael Ovitz says:
“Tansey was just totally antithetical to most of the other works in Michael’s collection. However, when you knew Michael, it wasn’t at all odd. Michael bought things that he found of interest to him, that moved him, for whatever reasons. As a collector, he really wasn’t interested in fashion. He wasn’t interested in what was hot.” (Christie's catalogue, “Works From the Collection of Michael Crichton”)
The Tansey impacted on my son. Frankly, he had not heard of him, which makes it all the more wonderful, because he knows about him now. The first time we see a work of art we love is so mind-blowing. It is so memorable and precious.
Lot 12, "Tete de Homme," by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), charcoal on paper, 24 3/8 by 18 7/8 inches, 1912, estimated $700,000 to $1,000,000, sold for $1,426,500
there are artists like Picasso, who fire the
imagination of millions of people with a single painting as iconic as “
Picasso is ranked #1, the artist most famous for commanding the highest price for any work of art in history, a blockbuster artist. Michael Crichton experienced his own film, novel and TV series rank #1 at the same time, but, as Steven Spielberg describes him, he was a “gentle soul who reserved his flamboyant side for his novels. Michael Crichton made the cover of TIME Magazine, with the title “The Hit Man,” illustrated here with copies of first editions of some of his best-selling books.
There’s no escaping parents who cherish art and artists and wish to share that love with a child. Taylor Crichton says this about her dad:
“We would go to museums and he would explain things to me, but never in a patronizing way. He believed that every museum should have free admission. He felt that if people just could come in once a week and walk around, they would have a new love. That is how it happened to him. It was a spontaneous love that lasted the rest of his life. He would quote Aristotle: ‘Your soul never thinks without a picture.’ And it is so true. When words are your medium, to have such an appreciation for the visual is remarkable.” (Christie's catalogue, “Works From the Collection of Michael Crichton.”
Lot 119 in the day sale, an untitled cigar box with eight cigars of wood and colored beads by Liza Lou (b.1969) was executed in 1996. It has an estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. It sold for $35,000.
Lot 13, "Femme et Fillettes," by Pablo Picasso, oil on canvas, 73 7/8 by 51 1/4 inches, 1961, estimated $5,500,000 to $7,500,000, sold for $6,578,500
Christie's, my son and I stood together in front of
Picasso’s “Femme et fillettes,” (
Christie's Deputy Chairman of Post-War & Contemporary Art Brett Gorvy joins Sherri Crichton, Michael Ovitz, Crichton's agent, and Ken Tyler, the master printer at Gemini, who share very personal stories about Michael Crichton in a documentary video about Michael Crichton at www.christies.com . His wife Sherri movingly describes what he loved to do when he took rare breaks from his all-consuming writing schedule:
“We would go to San Fransisco to eat and go to the galleries. It was always about art and food...that was it...it was such a rich, rich part of him. “He made art fun.”
And in the catalogue “Works From The Collection of Michael Crichton Sherri says;
didn’t have a big social calendar. We stayed home a lot
and enjoyed going on vacation together. We would go to
Lot 19, "Femme a la robe rose," by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), oil on canvas, 39 1/2 by 32 1/4 inches, 1917, estimated $5,500,000 to $7,500,000, sold for $4,562,500
The three Picasso’s in the Michael Crichton Collection are extremely beautiful, and, when juxtaposed with the other artworks, they give what Brett Gorvy described as the sheer range of his collection. They are so different because they are the earliest works in the collection, yet they work well with everything else.
Two of Crichton's Picassos
“Tete de Homme,” is a fabulous Cubist charcoal on paper, painted in 1912, and “Femme a la robe rose” is an exquisite portrait of Picasso’s first wife, the ballerina Olga Koklova, painted in 1917, a year before they married.
Lot 4, Untitled (fashion), by Richard Prince (b. 1949), gelatin silver print mounted on board, 40 by 26 3/8 inches, 1980, unique, estimated of $250,000 to $350,000, sold for $362,500
Once again, he was influenced by Jasper Johns:
“He had seen how Jasper had been inspired by Picasso in his works from the 1980s and this gave my dad a different approach to understanding Picasso,” says Taylor Crichton (cited in Brett Gorvy’s essay “Michael Crichton: Renaissance Man”).
Michael Orvitz says:
“There is a trite saying about certain men or women who are Renaissance people,” says Michael Orvitz. “As trite as it is, it is a fit description of Michael Crichton. If you line up the novels he had written, the articles on travel, the films he wrote, the films he directed, and the television shows that he created, it’s an extraordinary body of work. This achievement is even more astonishing alongside the most fantastic art collection, which came totally from his own visceral instincts and intellect.” (Courtesy Christie’s catalog, “Works from The Collection of Michael Crichton”)
Just about everyone has heard of Michael Crichton, but as Brett Gorvy said, few people know of his passion for art. Many of the paintings in his collection are illustrated here, and they are superb works of art by the greatest contemporary artists in the world, and they were carefully chosen. Michael Crichton had close friendships with several of them, including David Hockney, (who made a portrait of Crichton in 1976), Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, and Claes Oldenberg - most famously Jasper Johns. He liked artists, and they liked him back.
Lot 31, "The Field Entrance, January 2006," top, and Lot 121, "Hedgerow Near Kilham, October 2005," by David Hockney (b. 1937), both oil on canvas, 36 by 48 inches, each estimated at $250,000 to $350,000, Lot 31 sold for $578,500; Lot 12, which was in day auction, sold for $662,500
Michael Crichton’s novels, films and TV series are fun and exciting to read, of scientific and historic importance, and above all “human interest.” His subjects make us curious because they can affect us – so anyone can relate to them. His novels translate well into film, a medium that has the power to reach literally everyone today, no matter where they live, and his best work is epically scaled and deeply personal, offering a panoramic and microscopic view, which is incredibly difficult to get across in words!
Trained as a medical doctor, Michael Crichton experienced and understood the human condition at its most vulnerable. It is often in doctor’s offices and hospitals that we learn about what can harm us, how to protest ourselves and those we love, and sometimes even confront our own mortality. His meticulously researched stories tap into what matters most to people everywhere. Michael Crichton knew scientifically what could wipe away precious things like health and life, and his medical training was an invaluable resource for his writing. He “got” how dangerous viruses are, but a scientific tome could not have conveyed it as well as “The Andromeda Strain,” an instant bestseller, published while he was still a medical student at Harvard. “ER,” – emergency room - the TV series he created, is still going strong today.
1971, Michael Crichton gave up medicine to concentrate on
writing and making movies. He moved to
Lot 8, "Chicago Board of Trade," by Andreas Gursky (b. 1955), color coupler print, 73 by 95 1/4 inches, 1997, number one of edition of 6, estimated $600,000 to $900,000, sold for $902,500
Always eager to learn, Michael Crichton was fascinated by the process of “making” something – a print, a painting, a film - and by collaboration, which he experienced as a medical doctor, and with artists and printmakers at the Gemini G.E.L. Studio, because he spent most of his time writing, which was solitary. To write, one has to be alone with a typewriter or computer. There is no way around that.
His resource for writing were his medical training, his art collection, his interactions with artists - their collaborations to get a print realized, or a painting executed - which were enormous assets in filmmaking for TV or screen – the ultimate collaboration, especially a film like “Jurassic Park!” Next time you are at the movies, read the credits. Michael Crichton was intuitive enough to know that film was a medium that could literally reach the masses – and film had a lot in common with art because it was visual. In Christie's catalogue Sherri Crichton remarks:
“Michael was keenly visual.”
He also seemed to like artists that reflected his own interests:
“He loved Gursky, because he came from the film world. He understood,” said Brett Gorvy at a press preview, and Andy Warhol, whose work he collected.
Michael Crichton and Jasper Johns at Gemini G.E.L. Studio; Photographed by Sidney B. Felsen, Copyright 1979, Courtesy Christie's “Works From The Collection of Michael Crichton"
Some of Michael Crichton’s wonderful paintings, prints, sculptures and works of art in diverse media are on view in this story, and in the Christie’s catalogs for the evening and day sales of Post-War and Contemporary Art. 31 select “Works From the Collection of Michael Crichton,” together with wonderful essays by Brett Gorvy, and Michael Crichton himself – on art, not dinosaurs or viruses – offer invaluable personal insights by his beautiful wife Sherri Crichton, his daughter Taylor Crichton, friends and those that worked closely with him. There are moving testimonials from the director and film producer Steven Spielberg, his agent Michael Orvitz, and Sidney Felsen, who generously allowed Christie's to publish his historic photographs of Michael Crichton and the artists working at Gemini G.E.L.in the 1970s in the catalog. They bring it all to life, a fantastic journey into the private, creative moments of the artists whose work we love.
Among an incredible line up of now world famous artists that were Michael Crichton’s close personal friends is Jasper Johns, who, as Sherri Crichton remarks in the documentary video on Christie's website about Michael Crichton and in the cataloueg “was very, very important to Michael.”
One of his most treasured pieces of writing was not a best-selling novel - or transferable to a movie or TV screen. In 1977 Jasper Johns asked Michael Crichton to write the catalogue for his major retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Lot 10, "Flags (ULAE 128)," by Jasper Johns (b. 1930), screenprint in colors, 1973, 26 1/4 by 33 inches, estimated $300,000 to $400,000, sold for $842,500
“It was unheard of - a writer of popular fiction? It was a groundbreaking event,” said Brett Gorvy.
“’Tom Armstrong of The Whitney asked me who I would like to write the catalogue, and I said that I would like someone who was not an art critic,” Johns told Nan Rosenthal. He says that he was delighted when Michael agreed. ‘I was surprised that he was willing to do it.” (Christie's catalogue “Works From the Collection of Michael Crichton.”)
At a press preview Brett Gorvy described “Flag,” by Jasper Johns as a painting “that changed the whole direction of art history...he talked about dreaming this picture, and chose it not for its patriotic aspect but because it allowed for abstraction, it was an abstract concept. It is painted on the sides as well, which makes it a three-dimensional object.”
“Johns always makes you aware of the paintings as an object. What Johns is doing is, in essence, indicating to you that the canvas is not a window on the world and not an insight into the artist’s imagination. He is genuinely doing something to emphasize the object-ness of the thing that hangs on the wall.” (In Search of An Artist: “Gray Is My Favorite Color.” A Few Informal Thoughts On The Work of Jasper Johns by Michael Crichton, from the abridged transcript of Michael Crichton’s final lecture on Jasper Johns at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, April 2008)
Lot 29, "Meringue Mix," by Wayne Thiebaud (b. 1920), 13 5/8 by 10 1/2 inches, 1999, estimated $600,000 to $800,000, sold for $1,058,500, top; Lot 120, "Drink," by Thiebaud, 10 1/2 by 11 3/4 inches, 2002, estimated $300,000 to $400,000, day auction, sold for $602,500
“Flags and targets are both things that are seen and not looked at, not examined, and they both have clearly defined areas which could be measured and transferred to canvas,” said Jasper Johns (Quoted in Michael Crichton “Jasper Johns,” New York, 1994, p. 30).
“Flag” was painted in encaustic, a technique developed in Ancient Egypt in which pigment and collage elements like newspaper are mixed with hot wax and applied to the surface. Painstaking and meticulous, the fast-setting encaustic enabled Johns to make each brushstroke distinct, creating a richly textured surface. The forty-eight-star, red, white and blue flag design is instantly recognizable. Jasper Johns is often mysterious and contradictory.
Taylor Crichton said: “They had the most beautiful friendship two people could have, especially as they got older. It was a deep private bond. Jasper Johns is a very private and elusive person. In that way my dad and he were similar. Jasper had such a secluded sensibility and that made their friendship even more beautiful.” (Christie’s catalogue) .
“I looked up at this behemoth, and he looked as if he was fifteen. He was like this huge kid,” said Jasper Johns of his friend Michael Crichton, who was 6 feet 7 inches tall.
Lot 23, "Untitled," by Jasper Johns (b. 1930), acrylic on plastic laid down on plastic, 15 3/4 by 10 3/4 inches, 1978, estimated $350,000 to $450,000, sold for $962,500
Meticulously and painstakingly executed by Johns, “Flag” mirrored Crichton’s approach to his writing:
“As a writer, Michael found it compelling to watch an artist such as Johns experiment, overcome self-imposed obstacles and meet the challenges of his rigorous creative vision. He saw the similarity to his own writing process. He recalled how he watched Johns struggle over the making of a print of his “Two Flags. ‘I’d complain how things were going with my writing and he’d been in a similar situation. I was actually encouraged by his difficulty. I didn’t feel so lonely’” (Crichton, quoted in I. Wasserman, op. cit., 1980, p.6, cited in Christies catalog for The Michael Crichton Collection sale).:
In his creative body of work, Michael Crichton drills deep into the rich spectrum of human ideals, longings and emotions. Searching, curiosity and a sense of fun were at the epicenter of his genius, as they are for children. The insights by those that loved and worked with him show that he never lost that quality, which is borne out by bestseller after bestseller, blockbuster movies and hit TV series.
Lot 141, "Basin in Rome I," right, and "Base in Rome 2,"left, by Jeff Wall (b. 1946), transparencies in lightboxes, each 16 5/8 by 16 5/8 by 5 3/8 inches, 2006, estimated Lot 141, $60,000 to $80,000, estimated Lot 144, $80,000 to $120,000, day auction
Master storyteller Michael Crichton knew how to get the attention of people of all ages, but most impressively the young. How can collaborators like Crichton and Spielberg not create a blockbuster?
a movie like “
Lot 17, "Vase of Flowers," by Jeff Koons (b. 1955), 72 1/2 by 53 by 1 inches, 1988, one from an edition of three and one artist's proof, estimated $700,000 to $1,000,000, sold for $2,322,500
Before leaving Christie's galleries and all the other artworks we had enjoyed, my son and I dissolved in happy laughter in front of whimsical, fantastical, fragile “Vase of Flowers,” by Jeff Koons. Nothing could be further from flags, dinosaurs or viruses than this witty wall sculpture configured from a delicate, reflective substance – glass. It is so playful, wonderful – fun – it is easy to see why Michael Crichton would like to have it in his collection.
When I told Brett Gorvy how much I enjoyed reading and learning from Christie's “Works From The Collection of Michael Crichton,” he said:
“It came from the heart.
It shows. It is a fine tribute to Michael Crichton, and to an art collection he loved.
Lot 22, "Study for a Painting," by Jasper Johns, encaustic on linen and wood with metal and string, 63 1/4 by 78 1/4 by 6 inches, 2002, estimated $3,000,000 to $5,000,000, sold for $5,346,500
It seems appropriate somehow to end with a very personal anecdote from the catalog that would have appealed to Michael Crichton:
April 2008, Michael Crichton gave a lecture at the
Metropolitan Museum of Art in
I shall always treasure being able to view the art collection of an amazing man, Michael Crichton, with my son, who benefited most from his wonderful stories – and now he knows that he collected art.. I am grateful to all those that made the exhibition, documentary video and catalog of “Works From the Collection of Michael Crichton” possible. The torch must be passed to the next generation.
Lot 140, "Sogg," by Tony Oursler (b. 1937), fiberglass sculpture, DVD, DVD player, Sony VPL-C55 digital projector, 35 1/2 by 39 by 16 inches, 2004, estimated $15,000 to $20,000, day auction
for the romping, stomping T-Rex action figure from “
Perhaps some day his children will propel it around his home, making all kinds of strange noises – encouraging it to eat cornflakes.
That was such fun.
Robert Manley, Brett Gorvy and Amy Cappellazzo of Christie's at press conference
Copyright 2010 Michele Leight
All citations from the catalogue attributed to Brett Gorvy are from the essay “Michael Crichton: The Renaissance Man,” by Brett Gorvy, Deputy Chairman, Christies Americas and International Co-Head, Post-War and Contemporary Art, prepared with the assistance of Nan Rosenthal, formerly the Senior Consultant of 19th Century, Modern, and Contemporary Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Courtesy Christie's catalogue, “Works From The Collection of Michael Crichton.”
See The City Review article on the 2010 Spring Contemporary Art evening auction at Christie's