DuMouchelles to sell late Sen. Jack Faxon's art collection

Michael H. Hodges
The Detroit News

Former state Sen. Jack Faxon, who died in January, was an avid collector who filled his Birmingham house with art and objects ranging from African masks to choice pieces of American arts-and-crafts.

It made for rooms of dizzying complexity. (You can take a video tour of Faxon's house by clicking here, or going to the top of the DuMouchelles website.)

"I never let any spot be empty," Faxon said in a video the Detroit Institute of Arts produced on him. "I have this incredible need to recreate a Victorian environment where everything is covered, top to bottom."

The family room of the late state Sen. Jack Faxon's Birmingham home, much of which Dumouchelles will auction starting Dec. 17.

DuMouchelles Art Gallery in Detroit will begin auctioning Faxon's remarkable trove Thursday and Friday. But the artifacts, from modern art to Oriental rugs, are so numerous — somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 — that there will be another auction in January and one beyond that.

"Jack's house was just mesmerizing," said Bob DuMouchelle, noting that the politician started purchasing at the downtown Detroit auction house as early as the 1960s.

 "He was a buyer," DuMouchelle added, "and a really great person. He became friends with many people in my family and staff, so it was an honor to be called to handle the collection."

He added, "Jack had a tremendous African art collection, but we’re not tackling that first round. We’ll do that in January and subsequent sales."

Instead, the upcoming sale will focus on the politician's rich stock of Asian "cameo glass," or etched or layered glass of high artistic quality. Also on the block will be some modern art collected by Faxon, who never married and had no children.

"Jack had a lot of modern art and furniture," DuMouchelle said, "though it was sometimes hard to tell because there was so much else around it," albeit all meticulously organized and displayed.

Contemporary artists represented in the Dec. 17-18 sale include the abstract expressionist Al Held and works by the Mexican artist Rafael Coronel, muralist Diego Rivera's son-in-law.

"And there's a Matisse that's attracted interest," DuMouchelle said.

That's in addition to the Harry Bertoia "sound sculpture," and Faxon's collection of arts-and-crafts lamps by Tiffany and Duffner Kimberly, among other designers.

Not everything from the house will be sold. Some pieces are going to the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts as well as the Smithsonian Institution.

A wide range of art owned by the late state Sen. Jack Faxon will be auctioned at DuMouchelles starting Dec. 17. This was his den.

DuMouchelle credits the politician with being a highly knowledgeable collector.

"Whenever I go into a collection," he said, "I always go the bookcases. If they collect, they’ll often try to learn about what they collect. And Jack was definitely very well researched on the things he was going after."

Or consider how Faxon himself put it: "I decided to be my own director, curator and docent."


(313) 815-6410

A view of Faxon's den. In addition to collecting, the one-time politician was also an artist himself.

Twitter: @mhodgesartguy

Auction - Estate of Jack Faxon

DuMouchelles, 409 E. Jefferson, Detroit

11 a.m. Thurs. & Fri., Dec. 17 & 18