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Sunday, December 21, 2014

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Bronfman’s art collection on auction

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A large collection of Canadian decorative and fine art assembled by businessman-and philanthropist Charles Bronfman in the 1980s and 1990s will go onto the auction block at Toronto-based Waddingtons.ca in a series of sales beginning Nov. 6.

The so-called Claridge Collection, which formerly adorned Bronfman’s offices in Montreal, consists of some 900 contemporary works by 372 artists, including pieces by most of the recipients of the Saidye Bronfman Award, now part of the Governor General’s Awards.

The assortment of works includes paintings, photography, sculptures, ceramics, glass and mixed media objets d’art. Assembled over a period of about 10 years by longtime Bronfman curator Franklin Silverstone, the pieces seem particularly rich in colour and whimsy.

“My mandate was to hand pick a fun, colourful and bright collection of the top Canadian artists, sculptors and crafts people, not based on who was popular at the time,” Silverstone writes in the 214-page full-colour catalogue of the sale. An accompanying 154-page manual provides biographies of all participating artists.

Beginning in the 1980s, Charles Bronfman focused on acquiring new works by emerging artists across Canada. But now his son, Stephen Bronfman, has taken over Claridge and has decided to dismantle his father’s collection to focus on building his own collection of Canadian emerging art.

Proceeds from the auction will benefit Historica Canada, a national charitable organization that promotes awareness of and pride in Canadian history, identity and citizenship.

Previews of the pieces begin Oct. 31 and continue until Nov. 5. The first two sales are slated for Nov. 6 – decorative arts at 1 p.m., fine arts at 7 p.m. A third sale is planned for 2014.

On a recent morning in Waddington¹s second-floor exhibition space above King Street East, Silverstone was asked to point out a few of his favourite works. He led this reporter from one piece to another like a bee going from flower to flower, offering a few words of praise about each. He highlighted an earthenware teapot by Greg Payce, raku pottery by Wayne Ngan and John Pickering, wood maquettes by Alan Wood, a self-portrait in clay by Victor Cicansky, and more.

“One of the reasons I created the biography catalogue is that people don’t realize how great our ceramic artists are,” he said. “These people are respected and understood the world over.”

All lots in the auction can be viewed online at Waddingtons.ca. The auction house is located at 275 King St. E., second floor.

 

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