Portrait of the Artists: The Burt Britton Collection for Auction

. August 29, 2009

Bloomsbury Auctions announces Portrait of the Artists: The Burt Britton Collection at auction on September 24, 2009 at 2:00pm. This private collection of 1,200 refreshingly spontaneous self-portraits offers unique insight into the creative process that will fascinate collectors, curators, biographers, psychologists and the general public alike.

How we see ourselves often differs radically from how others do. How might a novelist such as Cormac McCarthy, the jazz pioneer Miles Davis or architect like Frank Gehry depict themselves? Would self portraits by painters like Philip Guston or David Hockney be any more revealing than those of Paul Newman or Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson? What about Muhammed Ali or original punk Patti Smith? Burt Britton got his answers on paper when he asked the famous and the not-yet-famous he encountered to pick up a pen and draw themselves. For over thirty years Burt was at the cultural intersection of New York, first at the celebrated Strand Book Store in the Village and later at Books & Co. on the Upper Eastside. Norman Mailer, Truman Capote, Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, John Updike, William Styron, Kurt Vonnegut, Stephen King, Susan Sontag, Gloria Steinem, Allen Ginsberg, James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, Sam Shepard, Robert Motherwell, Larry Rivers, François Truffaut, Woody Allen, Dustin Hoffman, and Lauren Bacall are but a handful that supplied themselves sometimes whimsical, sometimes telling self-portraits.

Roald Dahl dashed his off on a leaf of discarded manuscript. Jamie Wyeth drew himself as a fat hog. Edward Gorey portrayed himself as one of his carefully crosshatched cats. Maurice Sendak, of course, was a Wild Thing. Art Spiegelman of Maus fame turned the tables on Britton and drew a caricature of the bookseller.

The collection includes a dozen Nobel Prize nominees or winners, twice that number of Pulitzer winners and numerous recipients of the National Book Award. Oscar and Grammy winners are represented as well in this remarkable collection, a unique cultural archive of the literary and artistic life of late twentieth century New York.

Bloomsbury Auctions
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New York, NY 10036
Tel: +1 (212) 719-1000 Fax: + (212) 719-1400

Category: Auction News

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