It’s not often a person going about their business becomes a figurehead of cultural significance, revered across generations, continents, and not only throughout but after their lifetime. Certainly, the writer and critic Joan Didion might have been surprised by the notoriety that she continued receive long after her busiest writing days, notably being cast, aged 80, in a Celine campaign wearing her signature pair of dark sunglasses.
Didion died on 23 December 2021, aged 87. Her popularity has been a catalyst for the sale of her deeply personal collection of paintings, photography, writing tools, furniture, books, and knick-knacks collected on her travels. Empty notebooks, a handful of shells, and sets of silver cutlery are amongst the most intimate of the objects. Elsewhere, gifts and items from notable friends, such as a Patti Smith photograph (the singer was one of the speakers at Didion’s memorial service in Manhattan earlier this year), etchings by Ed Ruscha and a lithograph by Cy Twombly, add gravitas to the assortment.
The collection is being sold by Stair Galleries in Hudson, New York on 16 November 2022, 11am ET. Bidding has already started, and the auction house will not be allowing visitors in person on the final day of the sale, but enthusiasts can visit prior and watch a live stream of the event via the Stair website.
Meanwhile, here are Wallpaper’s highlights.
Joan Didion Estate Sale: 11 highlights
The timeless classic
Brigitte Lacombe (b. 1950): two portraits of Joan Didion
The iconic investment
Pair of Celine faux tortoiseshell sunglasses
The overlooked gem
Helen Marden (b. 1941): Untitled
The unexpectedly desirable
Group of 13 blank notebooks
The ‘worth it in its own right’
Vija Celmins (b. 1938): Drypoint-Ocean Surface
The personal pick-up
American patchwork quilt, mounted
The writer’s tool
George III-style inlaid mahogany cylinder writing desk
The significant metaphor
Cartier brass desk clock
The snapshot of a life
Group of desk articles
The power piece
Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008): L.A. Flakes--11,000', and Rising
The leftovers legacy
Le Creuset enamelled cast-iron Dutch ovens, sauté pans and other wares
‘An American Icon: the Collection of Joan Didion’ is currently on view at Stair Galleries. Auction closes on 16 November at 11am ET / 4PM GMT
549 Warren Street
Hudson, New York 12534
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Tilly is a British writer, editor and digital consultant based in New York, covering luxury fashion, jewellery, design, culture, art, travel, wellness and more. An alumna of Central Saint Martins, she is Contributing Editor for Wallpaper* and has interviewed a cross section of design legends including Sir David Adjaye, Samuel Ross, Pamela Shamshiri and Piet Oudolf for the magazine.
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