News Press Release

The SFMOMA Art Auction Returns Modern Art Council Presents Museum's Biennial Fund-raiser

Release date: February 14, 2006

The Modern Art Council of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) will host Art Auction 2006 on Wednesday, May 17, 2006. As one of the Museum's major fund-raising events, this year's auction will feature some one hundred lots representing an extraordinary range of art, including photographs, paintings, and works on paper donated by local and national galleries as well as by artists themselves. The live auction will include some thirty works by such important artists as Ansel Adams, Diane Arbus, Matthew Barney, Robert Bechtle, Christopher Brown, Chuck Close, Philip Guston, Marilyn Minter, Robert Rauschenberg, and Gerhard Richter, while the silent auction will feature more than seventy works by artists including Alex Katz, Henri Matisse, Nigel Poor, and Tom Sachs. Proceeds from SFMOMA's Art Auction 2006 will benefit the Museum's world-class collection and educational programs.

"This is our sixteenth biennial art auction, and for more than thirty years it has been one of the favorite Modern Art Council events," says event Chair Justine Bellows Sears. "Our focus this year is solely on art—there will be more than one hundred works that are not available anywhere else. The combination of live and silent auctions guarantees a spirited evening for collectors from throughout the Bay Area and beyond. We are thrilled to be partnering again with First Republic, and for the first time with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP. We expect Art Auction 2006 to be the best yet."

One highlight of the live auction will be the work Lyle (2003) by Chuck Close. Over the course of his forty-year career, Close has repeatedly reinvented modern portraiture. Working systematically with a series of grids, he constructs unbiased yet intensely personal images of friends and family members on a larger-than-life scale. The size of his works invites the viewer to participate in how they are perceived—as photorealist representations or abstract geometric forms. A master of multiple media, Close is particularly revered for his work as a printmaker; his silkscreens are hand-stenciled and display brilliant colorization. Close's self-portraits were featured in a recent survey at SFMOMA.

Another highlight is Matthew Barney's De Lama Lâmina: O Sete de Ogum (2004). A master of contemporary conceptual art, Barney is known for lush, theatrical films and multifaceted performances that are visually arresting and rife with political, sexual, and mythological themes. As a follow-up to his Cremaster cycle, Barney collaborated with American-Brazilian musician Arto Lindsay to create an opulent exploration of ecological devastation set amid the elaborate fanfare of Carnival. Translated from Portuguese as "from mud, a blade," the title of the work offers a provocative touchstone for a symbolic tale of exploitation. The much anticipated exhibition Matthew Barney: DRAWING RESTRAINT will be on view at SFMOMA from June 23 to September 17, 2006.

Gerhard Richter's Untitled (11 November 1999) (1999) is another standout. Widely heralded as the greatest living painter, Richter has demonstrated a remarkable facility in styles that range from photorealism to pure abstraction—and that often exist somewhere in between. Determined to defy categorization, Richter has alternated among a variety of techniques, scales, palettes, and subjects throughout his more than forty-year career, creating works that are uniformly mesmerizing and undeniably original. The subject of a traveling retrospective organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2003, Richter's work is included in numerous international collections, including those of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, as well as SFMOMA.

Items from the auction may be previewed at SFMOMA from May 12 through 14 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in The Schwab Room. Art Auction 2006 previews are free and open to the public. Please note: Silent auction bids will be accepted during previews, but bidders are encouraged to attend Art Auction 2006 to ensure the success of their bids.

Art Auction 2006 begins at 6 p.m. on May 17 with cocktails and the opening of the silent auction and continues at 7 p.m. with the live auction and hors d'oeuvres by McCall Associates. The event is organized by the Modern Art Council, SFMOMA's lead fund-raising auxiliary since 1934. Auction sponsors include First Republic Bank; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP; Bonhams & Butterfields; Chalk Hill Estate Vineyards & Winery; Ship Art International; and The Painter's Place.

Tickets for the event are $500 Benefactor, $350 general. For tickets or more information, please call the Modern Art Council office at 415.357.4125 or visit

SFMOMA Art Auction 2006 Highlights

Ansel Adams, Lumber Mill Incinerator, Bodega, CA, 1979
Polaroid Type 52 photograph
Estimate: $7,000–$9,000

Diane Arbus, Charles Atlas Seated in His Palm Beach Home, Fla., 1969
Gelatin silver print, printed by Neil Selkirk
Estimate: $4,500–$6,000

Matthew Barney, De Lama Lâmina: O Sete de Ogum, 2004
Chromogenic print in self-lubricating plastic frame
Estimate: $40,000–$60,000

Robert Bechtle, Oceana, 1990
Charcoal on paper
Estimate: $12,500

Christopher Brown, Chopsticks, 1987
Oil on canvas
Estimate: $90,000–$120,000

Chuck Close, Lyle, 2003
Estimate: $25,000

Philip Guston, Objects on Table, 1976
Ink on paper
Estimate: $100,000–$125,000

Marilyn Minter, Stuffed, 2003
Cibachrome print
Estimate: $6,000–$8,000

Chris Ofili, Untitled VIII, 2005
Monoprint on paper
Estimate: $12,000–$15,000

Robert Rauschenberg, People for the American Way, 1991
Eight-color lithograph and screenprint
Estimate: $10,000–$12,000

Gerhard Richter, Untitled (11 November 1999), 1999
Oil on photograph
Estimate: $19,000–$22,000

Media Contacts

  • Libby Garrison, 415.357.4177,
  • Robyn Wise, 415.357.4172,
  • Sandra Farish Sloan, 415.357.4174,


San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
151 Third Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Founded in 1935 as the first West Coast museum devoted to modern and contemporary art, SFMOMA is currently undergoing a major expansion project that will significantly enhance gallery, education, and public spaces, enabling the museum to better showcase more of its expanded permanent collection. While the museum is temporarily closed for construction,  through 2016, SFMOMA is “on the go” with an extensive array of off-site programming across the Bay Area, including collaborative and traveling museum exhibitions, major outdoor projects and commissioned installations, and new education initiatives.

Visit or call 415.357.4000 for more information.