The Sonnabend Collection at Remai Modern
October 5, 2019–March 22, 2020
Organized by Remai Modern and the Sonnabend Collection Foundation. Curated by Antonio Homem.
Remai Modern presents The Sonnabend Collection. Developed through the vision of influential art dealer Ileana Sonnabend (1914-2007), her husband Michael Sonnabend (1900-2001), and their adopted son Antonio Homem, the collection is among the most significant private holdings of modern and contemporary art in the world.
The Sonnabend Collection at Remai Modern features over 100 works by 67 artists, spanning seven decades of artistic production beginning in the 1950s. This will be the first exhibition of the Collection in Canada, and its most comprehensive presentation to date in North America. Curated by Homem, the exhibition takes visitors on a personal journey of extraordinary encounters with some of the most iconic artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Jeff Koons.
Ileana Sonnabend, born in Romania, was renowned for her intuition and exceptional eye for artists who would go on to become highly influential.
Ileana and her first husband Leo Castelli opened Castelli Gallery in their own sitting room in the late 1950s. Ileana encouraged the exhibition of artists such as Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, later followed by then-unknowns Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.
Though they remained partners in art throughout their lives, Leo and Ileana’s marriage ended in 1959. Ileana went on to marry Michael Sonnabend, with whom she opened Galerie Ileana Sonnabend in Paris in 1962. The gallery’s first New York location opened in 1970.
“I had the idea that the gallery had a function to inform… when I find something of interest that is totally unknown, I want to make it known.”—Ileana Sonnabend
The Sonnabend Gallery established an international presence, fostering creative exchanges and new audiences both in Europe and America. The gallery frequently championed artists early in their careers, anticipating and influencing developments in art, including Pop, Minimalism, Conceptualism, Nouveau Réalisme, Arte Povera, Neo-Expressionism, Neo-Geo, Photo Conceptualism and beyond. Above all, the Sonnabends believed in and supported the artists they exhibited and collected.
The Sonnabend Collection can be seen as an extremely personal account, a reflection of one family’s deep, unwavering belief in art and artists. At the same time, the collection provides a remarkable record of material, conceptual and philosophical shifts in American and European art from the second half of the 20th century.
Ileana’s work as a gallerist, patron and collector made an indelible impact on the contemporary art world, which continues even after her death in 2007. With a deep, unwavering commitment, the Sonnabends granted artists the opportunity to push boundaries, defy expectations and exhibit work that was difficult to sell.
Barry Le Va
Pier Paolo Calzolari
Gilbert & George
Bernd and Hilla Becher
Andrea Robbins and
Anne and Patrick Poirier
and David Weiss
Experience Seven Decades of Art in Constant Flux
After Abstract Expressionism