Whether one is on the side of creating it or genuinely enjoying it, passion is the ultimate driver of art. It moves artists to continually strive for perfection and create masterpieces in which others can recognize personal convictions, interests and emotions.
As is signature to the fabric of Lexington, those passions in locals, or those who visit with regularity, often center around racing and equestrianism, along with other aspects of sporting culture, such as hunting, shing and agricultural endeavors. It’s only natural, then, that Lexington–specifically Keeneland–play home to the world’s largest auction of sporting art.
Now in its seventh year and slated to be held on Sunday, November 17th at the Keeneland Sales Pavilion, The Sporting Art Auction is a unique collaboration between Cross Gate Gallery, one of the world's foremost purveyors of fine sporting art, and Keeneland, the world's permier Thoroughbred auction house.
“Passion is the whole story behind this auction,” said Field Ladd, Acquisitions Director for Cross Gate Gallery. “People who are buying pieces out of this auction do so because they not only love it but feel a connection to it and the culture it represents.”
The Sporting Art Auction features paintings and sculptures from lauded 19th and 20th-century artists, including Sir Alfred Munnings, LeRoy Neiman and Franklin Voss, as well as newer works from contemporary artists, such as Andre Pater, Nick Bobby and Charles Church. While many of the pieces depict equestrian scenes featuring Thoroughbreds, polo, fox hunting, and jumping, other subject-matter included The Sporting Art Auction included dogs, farm animals, nautical scenes, and Native American culture,
Cross Gate Gallery, which is owned by Field’s father, Greg, was founded in 196e with the sole intention of offering locals access to find sporting art. In the years since then, Cross Gate Gallery has earned a reputation internationally as not only being a premier source for the world’s finest equine and sporting art, but also for introducing some of the world’s finest painters and sculptors to the genre of sporting art, furthering and often bolstering their careers.
“We work to identify talented artists whose work does not typically involve sporting art and work with them to either get them commissioned work or we commission them ourselves,” said Ladd. “Each year, we try to introduce one or two artists to the sporting art genre, We identify quality in their talent, redirect that talent on a sporting art subject matter, and put the product in front of people who recognize and appreciate quality.”
While prices for The Sporting Art Auction typically range between $4,000 and $40,000, someday Ladd would like to curate a section of offerings within the auction that is more affordable.
“So often people come to the auction, only to get priced. I want to produce opportunities for more people to have access to art that speaks to them and is evocative of who they are and what they enjoy,” said Ladd. “Next year, I would like to have a section of 30 or 40 paintings that are $1,000 or less, allowing more people to purchase a piece of sporting art that they truly love.”
The public is welcome to view this year’s Sporting At Auction offerings during the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale (November 6-17) or by appointment through Cross Gate Galley, Each piece displayed references the artist name, title of the portrait, the medium used to create the piece, and accompanying background on the artwork and the estimated value.
For those considering a purchase from this year’s auction, bids will be taken in person at the auction, via phone through a prior arrangement and online. For more information go to thesportingartauction.com or Call Cross Gate Gallery at 859-233-3856.