Going Once

Merce Cunningham's Personal Collection for Auction

Christie’s will auction off the prominent and personal pieces of work that late choreographer Merce Cunningham and his partner John Cage collected throughout their lives. The proceeds from the November 10 and 11 auction, which are projected to reach between $3.5 and $5 million, will benefit the Merce Cunningham Trust, which manages the rights to his work and aims to uphold Cunningham’s legacy. “It’s a very diverse and very personal collection,” said Laura Kuhn, one of the trustees of his estate. Cunningham’s personal ties to the artists is evident in the titles of works—from the likes of Jasper Johns (Dancers on a Plane, Merce Cunningham) to Robert Rauschenberg (a work on paper inscribed “for John C.”) and Philip Guston. The Jasper Johns piece (one of three in the collection) displays the artist’s proverbial crosshatch design and a stencil of its title in jumbled letters, and is estimated to be the most profitable of the works. Johns told The New York Times, “I made it for Merce because he was the thought in my mind.”