Arts / Museums

A World-Class Collector Lets Us Inside His Famous Dallas Home For an Auction Lesson

Your Two x Two Guide

BY // 10.20.15

It is a breezy Friday morning, and I am sitting in the backyard of the The Rachofsky House just one week before TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art, the annual art auction and gala benefitting amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, and the Dallas Museum of Art contemporary acquisitions fund and exhibitions. The Richard Meier-designed house and grounds — the gala’s annual location and the home of TWO x TWO founders Cindy and Howard Rachofsky — provides a sublime setting to get the inside scoop on this year’s event. Howard, my host for the morning and a world-class collector, is affable and informative regarding the art on the auction block as our conversation moves from the yard to the house, where the 100-plus works are installed.

Meanwhile, Cindy is in the kitchen chatting with Cassandra Tomassetti, the culinary whiz behind longtime TWO x TWO caterer Cassandra Fine Catering, regarding permutations of inventive ways to present caviar and Dom Pérignon — both TWO x TWO menu staples. Says Howard: “We have the best food and the best wine. It’s the best party in town. We sell out almost immediately.” No doubt. And it also raises beaucoup bucks: In the past 16 years, TWO x TWO has raised $52 million, making it the largest amfAR fund-raiser in the United States, and often compared to amfAR’s Cinema Against AIDS gala in Antibes, France — the glitzy locus of stars in the South of France.

Naturally, honored artist Ellsworth Kelly’s work, White Form, 2012, will turn many heads and raise a few paddles. But what of the rest? Who better to ask than the expert himself. “Much of the work this year is abstract,” observes Howard as he begins our private tour of the TWO x TWO art. “I’ve gravitated to ones that are a bit more figurative.” From the conceptual to the representational, Howard tells us which works, from his point of view, are worthy of second looks:

Los Angeles-based Brian Calvin’s Sunny, 2015. Said work is acrylic on linen and is a close-up of, typical for Calvin, sensuous subject matter — in this case, lips, gapped-teeth and tongue. The typically sexy mojo is absent; instead, it’s a study in shape that makes us consider the normally hot topic as cool art utilizing bold colors — orange and red — on a neutral background.

Park Seo-Bo’s Ecriture No. 141122, 2014. The artist is a member of the Dansaekhwa (Korean Monochrome Painting) movement, practiced by a group of Korean artists who came to prominence in the 1970s and are known for challenging typical painting techniques. Rachofsky explains he has begun collecting work from these artists, as the detail and technique fascinate him. In this case, Seo-Bo created vertical striations in damp paper to create shapes reminiscent of a building façade. It’s been noted that his work underscores the relationship of pattern and emptiness and is evocative of Eastern philosophical concerns. In an artist’s statement, Seo-Bo’s aesthetic is explained: “I think of my paintings like monks praying in a Zen garden.”

Sanya Kantarovsky’s CROCODILE III (AFTER L’ALPHA ET L’OMEGA), 2015. In what could be construed as a nod to Edenic imagery, the Russian-born artist, who lives in New York, has created a work on linen in oil, watercolor, pastel and charcoal that depicts a nude woman holding a tiny piece of fruit while gazing at a reptile. The piece is rendered simply in bold strokes and viewers are left to construe the meaning of the depicted exchange fraught with allusion — or not. It may just be a (whimsical) study in shape and color.

Alexander Tovborg’s, Eternal Feminine XL, 2014. Created on felt and saturated with brilliant color, the Danish artist’s work is thought by many to invoke references to Matisse and Kandinsky. Shapes of flora and fauna are evident, all rendered in soft colors, including a fiery orange as well as lovely blues, greens and magentas.

For information about TWO x TWO for AIDS and Art, and to inquire about placing absentee bids, click here.

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