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Florence Knoll Bassett’s impressive art and design collection heading to auction

Featuring works by Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, and more

An archival image of an office with a large table and artwork hanging in the back wall.
Office of Harry Hood Bassett, Florence’s second husband, at the First National Bank in Miami, Florida (ca. 1957); a Josef Albers piece is hung on the wall.
Courtesy Knoll Archive

The late, visionary Florence Knoll Basset was, to no one’s surprise, a dedicated and ardent collector of art and design. While running the eponymous modern furniture company, Knoll cultivated the careers of many a legendary designer, bringing the likes of Mies van der Rohe, Eero Saarinen, Marcel Breuer, and Harry Bertoia into the fold.

At home, the influential architect and designer was equally as discerning, building up an eclectic collection of high-value pieces that are set to go on auction throughout fall.

Phillips’s Making Modern: Property from the Collection of Florence Knoll Bassett, includes more than 50 items that Knoll kept in her New York City and Florida homes, the value of some reaching into millions of dollars.

There are pieces like Morris Louis’s Singing, a vibrant swipe of colors on canvas the painter made in 1961 that’s estimated to sell for around $2,000,000 (Knoll bought it for $5,500 in 1963). There’s also a print from the designer and color theorist Josef Albers that features an image from his famed book, The Interaction of Color, (estimated at $500,000). Knoll also collected ceramics from Pablo Picasso, paintings from Paul Klee, and sculptures from Isamu Noguchi.

The first of three auctions featuring the collection will open on October 25. Take a look at some of the items offered, below.

A curved white vase with a face painted on the body.
Pablo Picasso, Four faces (Quatre visages), 1959.
Courtesy of Phillips
A white tablet with a face carved into it.
Pablo Picasso, Geometric face (Visage géométrique), 1956.
Courtesy of Phillips
A print featuring circles in gray, white, and lighter gray.
Josef Albers, Homage to the Square: Silent Gray, 1955.
Courtesy of Phillips
A print featuring stripes of various colors running vertically.
Morris Louis, Singing, 1961
Courtesy of Phillips
An artwork featuring terra cotta-colored patches with black markings.
Paul Klee, Der Exkaiser, 1921.
Courtesy of Phillips