On The Square

Alluring Art Objects and Accessories from the Estate of Chara Schreyer

By E. Jung

Nov 14,2023 | 12:00 EST

Fine Estate Inc. hosts a collection of items from the estate of indomitable tastemaker and art collector, Chara Schreyer. The sale, Art & Jewelry from The Chara Schreyer Collection will be held Nov 19, 2023 at 2pm EST. Fine Estate Inc., a leading Bay Area auction house, is showcasing an incredible selection of jewelry and works of art from her estate. Chara was known throughout elite fine art circles for building one of the world’s leading collections of modern and contemporary art, as well as for her devotion to philanthropy in support of the arts.  Her California homes were renowned for being more akin to galleries than living spaces, and she frequently hosted tours of her collection for enthusiasts and educational institutions alike.


Within the sale are incredible, unique pieces for collectors and aesthetic enthusiasts alike. A standout is an Ai Wei Wei (Lot 31) “Sunflower Seeds” from 2020 which is a woodcut on a disposable mask, part of an edition of 10,000 he made for charity during the height of the early coronavirus pandemic. As much a time capsule as it is a work of art, this diminutive piece sits within an 8x10” acrylic stand bringing it to life as an art object.
There are other display-ready works including a Martin Kippenberger (Lot 33), a Chloe Piene (Lot 233), and five works from Robert Beck, which were indubitably selected to match the architectural elements in one of Schreyer’s famed California residences.

Not a gallery-ready work, but just as artful, is an Eva Hesse blanket (German-American 1936-1970) for Hauser & Wirth (Lot 179). This beautiful textile was made in Scotland and is 100% Cashmere. Measuring at 80” x 63” the design is minimal, with layered blue, red and black lines resembling similar drawings that are with the Hauser and Wirth Institute.

For all its beauty, it is terribly tempting to be wrapped in the cozy softness of an Eva Hesse.
Perhaps more wearable forms of art in the sale are found in Schreyer’s jewelry collection. Some of these works are diminutive sculptures that bring to mind large scale installation works by the likes of  El Anatsui, Louise Bourgeois, or even Andrew Goldsworthy. A Pair of Horn, 18k Yellow Gold Earrings, "Butterfly," Gabriella Kiss (Lot 168) with delicate gold detailed hardware and black planar lobes that provoke butterfly wings look as if they’d suspend like one of Calder’s mobiles. This Pair of Diamond, Wood, Silver Earrings (Lot 15) are seen worn by Chara in a portrait taken of her by Star Montana, which was also the hero image for MOCA Remembers Chara Schreyer. It’s clear her jewelry tastes have a keen sense of form, line, color and volume.

Her statement rings and cuffs push boundaries into the sculptural realm, sometimes more recognizably as art than accessory with examples such as the "Percussion” bracelet (Lot 162), and Faceted Steel Cuff by David Choi (Lot 217).

These bracelets are indeed “arm candy” for someone with elevated sensibilities on form and function.
Find the gaze of a true connoisseur in their attentiveness to small details. Making waves of statements for their scale are cocktail rings. Some of the most eccentric of the collection deserve to be recognized, for the sheer creativity, transcendent of funky, hinging on otherworldly. A Ceramic, Enamel Ring (Lot 144) bears some resemblance to a Basquiat skull brought into the material world. Whereas an Obsidian, 18k Yellow Gold Ring (Lot 165) could be a primordial lava rock formation, or Lousie Bourgeois granite sculpture with a gold ring in place of an oculus. It bears weight and darkness in a sculptural manner as much as the Mixed Metals Ring by Karl Fritsch (Lot 163). At last, the

Bronze, Cubic Zirconia Ring, "Bestiole," (Lot 142) which looks more of a rich gold in its new conditions sans patina, has a whimsical nature. The ring resembles a whimsical character, perhaps a rabbit with one ear in a half smile. 

In her belongings, there is impeccable taste, humor, and a seriousness for art. In the memorial statement from MOCA, Johanna Burton, the Maurice Marciano Director of MOCA shares that Chara “was a force…she was a fearless, passionate advocate for bold ideas, and always the first to step up to help make them happen. Her impact on contemporary art will continue to resonate and inform the field.” May her boldness live on through her extraordinary bequests to modern art institutions and in spirit through the wonderful items she leaves behind.


Fine Estate Inc.’s Art & Jewelry from The Chara Schreyer Collection will be held Nov 19, 2023 at 2pm EST.