The Curated Collection of Juliet McIver
Abell Auction Co. proudly presents the Curated Collection of Juliet McIver September 25th auction.
Abell Auction Co. is privileged to present the remarkable estate of Los Angeles-based contemporary art collector Mary Juliet McIver (1951-2022) on its upcoming September 25 sale of Modern and Contemporary artworks and California estates. Next to her art collecting practice, which focused on minimalist and abstract works by important Southern California artists such as Mary Corse, McIver actively supported the career of young artists and carried out philanthropic work at L.A.’s cultural institutions. The more than 45 high-quality contemporary artworks that form part of McIver’s estate, which has as its main highlight four recent pieces by celebrated artist Mary Corse, reflect the vibrant and eclectic art scene of L.A.
Juliet was always passionate about art. She studied Fine Arts at the University of Colorado, in Boulder, but it was her move to L.A., in the early 1970s, that set the course of her art collecting journey. Upon her arrival in California, McIver landed a job at Sotheby’s and got acquainted with the artists, curators, and gallerists that populated the local art scene. Starting in the 1970s, McIver’s love for art and great eye inspired her to start collecting pieces from artists who worked and lived in L.A. and who she got to know personally. It is important to note that McIver was one of the pioneers of the now buoyant L.A. art scene filled with blue-chip galleries and world-class art collectors. “We just lived in such a small little realm, when L.A. had a handful of galleries and hardly any committed collectors,” McIver said of the early years.
Drawing from her first-hand knowledge of the local art scene and the many connections she developed as a successful art dealer and art advisor who worked for celebrities and high- profile collectors, McIver gradually amassed a cohesive contemporary art collection composed of sculptures, prints, drawings, and multi-media works by California-based artists that are linked together by their minimal or abstract visual language. The depth of McIver’s collection and its important role in the development of L.A.’s art scene was often recognized during her lifetime and she was featured in renowned art publications such as Art News. Catherine G. Wagley.
Remarkably, one of McIver’s closer and longer friendships was with world-famous artist Mary Corse (b.1945). Starting in the 1960s, Corse developed a unique minimalist language that conceptually sought to explore quantum physics and light. She is also one of the few female members associated with California’s Light and Space Movement that emerged during the
1960s. As a result of this long-lasting connection, McIver owned a good number of Corse’s emblematic black and white paintings and also had holdings of rare paper works by the artist who is based on the outskirts of L.A. Importantly, McIver’s connection with Corse surpassed the dealing and acquisition of her works as she often provided professional advice to the now internationally celebrated artist. “If there’s an artist she was interested in; it was kind of a lifelong interest,” L.A.-based art dealer and gallerist Richard Telles, a close friend of McIver, shared in an interview.
Specifically, the sale of McIver’s estate includes as its main highlight a 2019 large-scale painting that Corse constructed using a mixture of acrylic paint and industrial retroreflective beads or microspheres, an innovative technique she developed in the 1960s. The resulting black and white artwork is a minimalist and geometric-looking painting that radiates light from within and shifts depending on the viewer’s position. In the artist’s words: “They (the glass beads) create a prism that brings the surface into view. I like that because it brings the viewer into the light as well”. Through this beautiful painting Corse succeeds in her quest for making light the subject and material of her art.
Next to this mesmerizing painting synthesizes the artist’s aesthetic which “emphasizes the abstract nature of human perception, expanding beyond the visual to include subtleties of feeling and awareness,” the sale offers three pencil and charcoal drawings that Corse produced between 2015 and 2019. These geometric-looking drawings provide a unique glimpse into the artist’s working process and uncover the logic behind her large-format works which recently have received a long overdue recognition. For instance, in 2018, a retrospective exhibition of her work was held at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and a long-term installation of her work is nowadays housed at Dia: Beacon, in Beacon, N.Y.
Alongside internationally known artists like Corse, McIver also collected pieces from younger artists based in Southern California and supported their careers frequently acting as a mentor and, more importantly, a friend. As proof of this, her estate includes abstract paintings, sculptures, and mixed-media works by L.A.-based artists of a younger generation like Rosha Yaghmai (b.1979), Analia Saban (b.1980), Ryan Sluggett (b.1981), Alex Olson (b.1978), Amir Nikravan (b. 1983), Dan Finsel (b.1982), Max Hooper Schneider (b. 1982), and Laeh Glenn (b.
It needs to be said that, parallel to her art collecting work, McIver was an ambitious entrepreneur. Juliet founded three fine art companies—JMFA, Lightworks, and Artworks Projects where she worked closely with artists, curators, and other arts professionals on private, commercial, and public art ventures. Next to this, she was also actively involved in L.A.’s most important art institutions. For example, she formed part of Hammer’s Museum Collector Circle, which is an invitation-only group of collectors and arts champions interested in emerging talent that supports the Hammer’s Made in L.A. exhibition series, a biennial featuring artists working in Southern California. At the same time, among many other ventures, she supported the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the L.A.-based, non-profit visual art space, LAXART.
Without a doubt, the works that form part of Juliet McIver’s estate reflect the richness and diversity of Southern California contemporary art. Furthermore, this sale provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity to own one of the pieces that the well-connected and extremely knowledgeable art collector selected with her keen eye. The works collected by McIver are an anthology of her exquisite taste but also of her talent and vision as a tireless supporter of the arts.