Paul Auster, Don DeLillo, Barbara Kingsolver, Toni Morrison, Philip Roth, Stephen Sondheim, Patti Smith, Marina Abramović, Robert Gober, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, and Yoko Ono Among Renowned Authors and Artists to Contribute Revisited Works

First Editions/Second Thoughts Auction at Christie’s New York on December 2

Sixty-one of America’s greatest writers and fourteen world-renowned artists have annotated their own classic works for an auction to benefit PEN American Center, the largest branch of PEN International, the world’s only writers’ association dedicated to protecting free expression.

First Editions/Second Thoughts (FEST), an auction of one-of-a-kind books and works of art to be held December 2 at Christie’s New York, is expected to raise substantial funds to support PEN’s mission to defend freedom of expression and to celebrate the literature that such freedom makes possible. The full collection of annotated works will be on public view at Christie’s starting November 17.

The Auction will provide bidders with the opportunity to engage in an intimate and private conversation with some of their favorite authors and artists. Through annotations including notes, essays, drawings, photographs, letters to the reader, and inserted memorabilia, each contributor has transformed a first edition of a classic work into a distinct new artifact for one lucky buyer.

“For the first time in my life, I wrote what I felt was kind of an intimate letter to a stranger,” said Paul Auster, who annotated City of Glass (1985) for the Auction. “I can say that it was probably the most bizarre act of writing I’ve ever been involved in. But I believe in PEN ardently, so any time I have a chance to help, I want to.”

Among the sixty-one authors who have contributed to the collection are Philip Roth, who volunteered to annotate both Portnoy’s Complaint (1969) and American Pastoral (1997); Don DeLillo, who added notes and reflections to nearly half of Underworld’s (1997) 827 pages; Patti Smith, who completed her annotation of Just Kids (2010) on the 25th anniversary of Robert Mapplethorpe’s death with an early, handwritten draft of ‘Wild Leaves’; Robert A. Caro, who revisited The Power Broker (1974) for the first time in forty years; Michael Cunningham, who included a CD of the music he listened to while first drafting The Hours (1998); and Gillian Flynn, who added new insights to Gone Girl (2012), which was released as a major motion picture this fall.

“These annotations are so personal and so revealing – they offer a window into the mind and soul of each writer and artist, and are instant artifacts of this moment in American literary and art history,” said Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of PEN American Center. “We were incredibly touched by the hours, days, and weeks that so many poured into the task of annotating – going above and beyond in sharing parts of themselves that were kept private until now. Their words and actions will allow PEN to help more writers in more regions of the world who are persecuted for exercising their right to creative expression.”

PEN supporter and acclaimed New York City gallerist Sean Kelly expanded the scope of the FEST Auction by inviting fourteen artists to reimagine a monograph or significant catalogue of their work to benefit PEN. Glenn Ligon imagined a censorship regime by taking a black marker to Glenn Ligon: Neon (2012); Shirin Neshat added elaborate new drawings to Shirin Neshat: Untitled; Alec Soth seamlessly inserted ten never-before-seen c-photographs into Niagara (2006); and Richard Serra added a characteristic oil-stick drawing to the title page of his book Richard Serra 2013. Kiki Smith rendered Her Memory (2009) almost unrecognizable, creating a new work of massive, intricately folded prints and drawings that reveal themselves as the reader pages through the book.

“These seventy-five annotated books comprise a rare anthology of literary treasures,” said Steven Murphy, CEO of Christie’s International. “Each author and artist approached the task of annotation differently, creating, in effect, a brand new extraordinary artifact out of a work that was already a masterpiece. Christie’s is proud to host this historic auction and to join the dedicated community of writers and artists who support PEN American Center.”

Bidding at “First Editions, Second Thoughts: An Auction of Books and Artwork to Benefit PEN American Center” is open to the public through four channels: in person, online, by phone, and by written (absentee) bid. The full catalogue of available lots is available at Prospective bidders should call Christie’s New York at +1-212-636-2437 for more information about bidder preregistration

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About PEN American Center
PEN American Center is the largest of the 140+ centers of PEN International, the world’s only international association of writers working to defend free expression and protect persecuted writers. PEN International was founded after World War I to dispel national, ethnic, and racial tensions and to promote understanding among all countries. PEN American Center, founded a year later in 1922, works to advance literature, to defend free expression, and to foster international literary fellowship. Its 3,500 distinguished members carry on the achievements in literature and advancement of human rights of such past members as James Baldwin, Arthur Miller, Susan Sontag, and John Steinbeck.

About Christie’s
Christie’s, the world’s leading art business, had global auction and private sales in the first half of 2014 that totaled £2.69 / $4.47 billion, making it the highest half year total in Christie’s history. Christie’s is a name and place that speaks of extraordinary art, unparalleled service and expertise, as well as international glamour. Founded in 1766 by James Christie, Christie’s has since conducted the greatest and most celebrated auctions through the centuries providing a popular showcase for the unique and the beautiful. Christie’s offers around 450 auctions annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewellery, photographs, collectibles, wine, and more. Prices range from $200 to over $100 million. Christie’s also has a long and successful history conducting private sales for its clients in all categories, with emphasis on Post-War & Contemporary, Impressionist & Modern, Old Masters, and Jewellery. Private sales in the first half of 2014 totaled £498.9 million ($828.2 million).

Christie’s has a global presence with 53 offices in 32 countries and 12 salerooms around the world including in London, New York, Paris, Geneva, Milan, Amsterdam, Dubai, Zürich, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Mumbai. More recently, Christie’s has led the market with expanded initiatives in growth markets such as Russia, China, India, and the United Arab Emirates, with successful sales and exhibitions in Beijing, Mumbai, and Dubai.

About Sean Kelly Gallery
Since its founding in 1991, Sean Kelly Gallery has been highly regarded internationally for ambitious, intellectually driven exhibitions. The original list of artists represented included Marina Abramović, Joseph Kosuth, and Juliao Sarmento, who exemplify the gallery’s commitment to important and challenging contemporary art. In 2012 the gallery moved to a 22,000 square-foot space designed by award-winning architect Toshiko Mori in the rapidly developing Hudson Yards neighborhood. The move facilitated the gallery in mounting increasingly ambitious, museum-quality exhibitions and expanding its roster of artists, which includes Antony Gormley, Laurent Grasso, Rebecca Horn, Idris Khan, Kehinde Wiley, Alec Soth, and Mariko Mori. As the gallery continues to grow, its commitment to its artists and standards of excellence remains unchanged.


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