Thirty-five Old Master drawings from the collection of the late designer Herbert Kasper are going under the gavel at Christie’s next month.
The gentlemanly designer, who was known as “Kasper,” died last year at the age of 93. He developed a vast art collection, a pursuit that was first piqued as a student in Paris in the 1950s.
A live sale, ”Always in Style: Old Master Drawings From the Collection of Herbert Kasper,” is planned for Oct. 14. Additional works will be offered at various other upcoming sales, including the “20th Century Art Evening Sale,” the “Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale” and the “Design Sale,” among others. With more than 129 lots, the collection is expected to exceed $11.5 million, according to the auction house. A portion of the proceeds will benefit a charity, which has not been disclosed, according to a Christie’s spokeswoman.
The New York-born Kasper attended New York University before serving in the U.S. Army in World War II. After the war ended, he studied at Parsons School of Design and went on to attend L’Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne to develop his design skills. In Paris, Kasper worked at Jacques Fath, Christian Dior and Marcel Rochas.
Once back in the U.S., he first worked as a milliner for Mr. Fred and then as a dress designer for Penart Fashions and Arnold & Fox. Kasper started his own label Kasper Originals in the ’60s and he later designed petite dresses for Maison Petite. A three-time winner of the Coty American Fashion Critics award and Coty Hall of Fame inductee, Kasper served as president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America in the late ’70s. Kasper spent most of his career at Leslie Fay designing the J.L.Sport and Kasper for ASL collections.
As a student in Paris, he made his first serious art acquisition, spending $100 on a Constantin Guys romantic wash drawing. Kasper’s art collecting of works by Fra Bartolommeo, Giorgi Vasari, Pablo Picasso, Robert Mapplethorpe and Jenny Holzer, among others, led to an exhibition at the Morgan Library in 2011. The designer was a life trustee at the Morgan Library & Museum, as well as a member of the director’s roundtable and the visiting committee for the Morgan’s department of drawings and prints. In addition to Old Masters, Kasper collected modern and contemporary drawings and photography. After discovering a photo exhibit of graffiti during a trip to Vienna in 2003, Kasper started collecting in that sector.
Kasper once said of his art collection, “Quality has always been very important to me. That doesn’t mean that works I collect are the most well-known by a particular artist, but they have a sense of being something that’s original and important.”
The designer’s collection was known for its Old Masters drawings, in particular Modernist works from the 16th and 17th centuries. Some of those have been gifted to the Morgan Library.
Stijl Alsteens, international head of department, Old Masters Drawings at Christie’s, said Kasper’s mostly 16th-century figure studies “nonetheless surprise by the variety of schools, techniques, styles and functions they represent.”
Christie’s will offer works by Parmigianino, Giulio Romano, Paolo Veronese, Giorgio Vasari, Giuseppe Cesari, Baccio Bandinelli, Taddeo Zuccaro and Sir Peter Paul Rubens and Hendrick Goltzius from Kasper’s collection.
More contemporary works by Picasso, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ed Ruscha, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Vik Muniz will also be offered in the next few months at Christie’s. Fernard Leger’s oil on canvas, entitled “La femme a la toilette,” is expected to fetch between $1.5 million and $2 million.
Editor’s note: This article was updated on Sept.15 at 10:45 a.m.