Ashton Hawkins & Johnnie Moore: A Collected Life At Auction
Moore and Hawkins.
By Jamie Larson
Auctions at the laudable Stair Galleries in Hudson often capture specific artistic moments or movements. On display now and up for sale this Saturday is the sum of an artistic life steeped in style, history and love.
The personal collection of Ashton Hawkins and Johnnie Moore spans over 50 years of collecting, including Hawkins’ 32-year tenure at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the fruitful pairing of the couple’s curatorial eyes after they met and began collecting together in the 1990s. This is an excellent auction for experienced and novice collectors alike, as both style and price vary greatly.
“The collection speaks about us,” Hawkins says. “Every piece tells a story. I knew many of these artists.”
“Henry Hudson Runs the Half Moon Aground, Gentrification of Hudson Begins,” Mark Beard.
I think we have a shared aesthetic,” Moore said. “We both have a great love of bronze, for instance, and I like to think we are both very eclectic and smart in our interests.”
Hawkins began collecting art as a teenager and maintained a long and important relationship with the art world through his legal career as Assistant Secretary of the Board of Trustees and Counsel to the Met from 1969 until his retirement in 2001. He traveled the world, socializing on behalf of the Museum with artists including Andy Warhol, Richard Avedon, David Hockney and Georgia O’Keeffe, as well as Jackie Onassis, Lillian Hellman, Jane Engelhard and Brooke Astor. Hawkins has served as chairman of the Dia Center for the Arts and the Alliance for the Arts. He currently sits on the Boards of the World Monuments Fund, the Municipal Art Society, and the New York Studio School, and he serves as a special consultant and secretary of Christie’s American Advisory Board.
The variety of Hawkins’ worldly experience is explicit at Stair; there are historical Egyptian and classical bronze figures, as well as whimsical modern paintings and sculpture. Colin Stair, owner of Stair Auctioneers & Appraisers and friend of Hawkins and Moore, said he had been thinking hard about how to characterize the theme of the couple’s collection, which, while apparent to the eye, eludes definition.
A T-shirt signed by Andy Warhol and gifted to Hawkins by the artist at a dinner party.
“It’s nature,” Stair decided. “Nature in a lot of different ways: the male form, fish and animals, color and shape.”
Though there are certainly exceptions on display, they serve to accent Stair’s point rather than contradict it.
“As two people with different tastes, we often wander off at art shows and come back together,” Moore says. “We surprise each other when we’re interested in the same things. We’ve been lucky; our tastes have come together in a way, and we hope people will enjoy that about the exhibition.”
In advance of the auction, Stair held a private viewing of the work last Saturday. The event, like the auction, was as much in honor of Hawkins and Moore’s artistic life together as it was in the collection itself.
Classic to Contemporary: The Collection of Ashton Hawkins and Johnnie Moore
Saturday, September 27 at 11 a.m.
Stair Auctioneers & Appraisers
549 Warren Street, Hudson, NY
At the private viewing:
Stair Galleries owner Colin Stair with Lisa Thomas and Sutter Antiques owner Alfons Sutter; Interior architect Juan Carretelera and US Editor for The Independent in London David Usborne.
Moore and Hawkins; A sampling of the impressive collection of bronze figures up for auction on Saturday.
Attorney Meghan Davis, Kay Toll and the author of an upcoming book on the history of the restoration of Olana Dorthy Heyl; Wingo Inc.‘s Doug Wingo and Tim Legg with Stair Galleries’ Erika Clark.
Rodney DeJung and Randy Hinz; Steve Byckiewicz, John Sare and Bob Macleod.