Florsheim, Goldberg collections comprise Wright sale Feb. 15


Georges Vantongerloo, ‘Formation de la Matiere,’ 1951, oil on panel in artist’s frame,
16 in x 18.75 in (41 x 48 cm). Signed, titled and dated to verso. Estimate: $70,000-$90,000. Wright image

CHICAGO – On Feb. 15, Wright will present Florsheim / Goldberg: An Extended Conversation, an auction featuring two exceptional stories in tandem-that of Lillian Florsheim and her son-in-law Bertrand Goldberg. Intensely creative, both Lillian and Bertrand surrounded themselves with art and objects and maintained friendships with important artists across the globe. Their friendship developed over shared interests and concepts explored in their own artistic practices. Ideas often overlapped, with each producing original works distinctly their own. Absentee and Internet bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

This special auction not only features works by both the artist Florsheim and architect Goldberg, but it also features an impressive selection of artistic masterpieces and interesting artifacts collected by both of them. Highlights of the sale include Formation de la Matière (1950) by Georges Vantongerloo (above) and Constellation (1956) by Jean Arp (below), and Dark by Josef Albers (1947) among many other important works.


Jean (Hans) Arp, ‘Constellation,’ 1956, painted wood relief, 27.25 in x 26.5 in x 2.25 in (69 x 67 x 6 cm). Signed to paper label to verso ‘Arp.’ Estimate: $70,000-$90,000. Wright image

An elegant and thoughtful woman, Lillian Florsheim amassed a collection that is a testament to her impeccable and discerning eye. While always appreciative of the arts, Florsheim’s true interest in the field came later in life. In the 1940s, when she was already in her 50s, Lillian began painting and creating sculptural works. She studied under Rudolph Wiesenborn and then later under Hugo Weber at the Institute of Design in Chicago. She dedicated herself to her practice and creating works that ranged from small abstract figures and string studies to more abstract and complex studies of form and finally to larger geometric constructions in the 1960s. From the late 1960s to the early 1980s, her works were widely exhibited both locally and in Europe with shows in Paris and Germany. In 1970, Lillian was one of three artists in a major exhibition held at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Examples of Lillian’s work, such as Pattern Form (G4), Stacking Form (R1) and others are featured in this fascinating sale.


Lillian Florsheim, Untitled (Stacking form, R1), circa 1980, stainless steel, 33 in x 26 in x 8 in (84 x 66 x 20 cm). Estimate: $2,000-$3,000. Wright image

By the late 1950s, Florsheim’s exploration of the arts had also manifested itself in collecting and the depth and breadth of the collection she amassed over 10-15 years is impressive. Her interests ranged from collecting works by members of the Paris group, Abstraction-Creation and early cubist works to geometric explorations that were happening at the time. The sale includes Composition 1100 (1959) by Leon Polk Smith, Continuity (Transformable painting, 1958) by Yaacov Agam and Construction With and Within a Cube (1944-45) by Max Bill (below).


Max Bill, ‘Construction With and Within a Cube,’ 1944-45, brass and marble, 19.5 in x 14.75 in x 6 in (50 x 37 x 15 cm). Sold with the original invoice and correspondence from Max Bill. Estimate: $70,00-$90,000. Wright image


Florsheim traveled overseas and visited with the artists whose works she collected; in some cases, her interactions with artists developed into close relationships such as with Max Bill and Georges Vantongerloo with whom she regularly visited and corresponded for many years. His work, Formation de la Matière (1950) stands out within the selection.

 The art and collection of Lillian Florsheim segue into the second and overlapping story of the auction, which is centered on the collection and work of the innovative architect Bertrand Goldberg. This unique sale also includes more than 100 lots comprised of art and artifacts collected by Goldberg including an important painting by Josef Albers titled Dark (1947) and several gouaches by Lionel Feininger and two early etchings by Paul Klee sold alongside furniture, architectural models and photographs by Bertrand, as well as tableware and decoration from the Chicago restaurant Maxim’s de Paris, owned and run by his wife, Nancy Florsheim Goldberg, for two decades.

Bertrand Goldberg studied architecture at several institutions including the Bauhaus in Berlin and worked with George Fred Keck in 1935 before opening his own firm in 1937. His architectural works range from small residential projects to larger commercial endeavors such as Marina City with its iconic concrete towers and uniquely shaped auditorium standing out in Chicago’s skyline still today. No matter the scale, Goldberg’s projects illustrate his unique design philosophy and innovative use of technology. An aluminum and leather bench designed by Bertrand Goldberg, a spice rack designed by Goldberg for Lillian Florsheim’s home circa 1948 made of perforated stainless steel and metal engine parts are among his unique designs included in this auction. Several collections of large-scale photographs that document a number of the many and varied projects Goldberg completed during his career will also be sold.


Bertrand Goldberg, custom bench for the Marina City Theater Lobby, circa 1965, aluminum and leather, 85 in wide x 24 in deep x 16.5 in high (216 x 61 x 42 cm). Estimate: $5,000-$7,000. Wright image

Finally, this sale includes is a selection of tableware, glassware and Art Nouveau posters from Maxim’s de Paris in Chicago. This restaurant, a fixture for haute-cuisine and French culture in Chicago, was the first franchise of the famed French establishment based on the legendary Parisian restaurant. It opened in 1963 in Goldberg’s Astor Tower and was owned and run by Nancy Goldberg for the next two decades.