From Twilight actor to curator: Robert Pattinson's artistic taste showcased at Sotheby's

Robert Pattinson may be best known as Edward Cullen in Twilight Saga, the latest Batman, a musician, or the face of Dior Homme. Now, there is one more role to add to the list: a curator.

On 30 September, seven artworks carefully picked by Pattinson would go on Sotheby’s auction block at the Contemporary Curated Auction in New York. Bringing together pieces from the post-war period to today, his selection mixes big names with rising stars to present his unique artistic vision – described by him as ‘cosmic, alien, naughty and slightly dangerous’.

Regarding his curatorial process, the heart-throb remarked, "What I look for is when a piece has its own language." While Sotheby’s has not announced the full details yet, some of the highlights include Willem de Kooning’s Untitled, Richard Serra’s Rotation #9, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s Old Rope.

Richard Serra | Rotation #9, 2011, Paint stick on hand-made paper | Est: US$200,000 - $300,000

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye | Old Rope, 2006, Oil on canvas | Est: US$100,000 - $150,000

Since 2013, Sotheby’s has invited celebrities from diverse fields to showcase their curatorial talents and interests at the Contemporary Curated Auctions. Some of the previous guests included media mogul Oprah Winfrey, singer-songwriter Ellie Goulding, designer Kim Jones and DJ Steve Aoki. This time, it is Robert Pattinson’s turn to lend his discerning eye to the auction house.

Pattinson first came to the limelight with the role as Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goble of Fire (2005). Yet, the films that turned him into an international movie star overnight were the Twilight sequel (2008-2012). Since then, he has appeared in numerous critically-acclaimed films, namely Good Time (2017), The King (2019) and Tenet (2020), with The Batman (2022) adding to his most recent portfolio.

Acting aside, Pattinson is also a singer who has co-write and sung on several soundtracks for films, such as Never Think for Twilight. In 2010, he was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world, and was featured in the Forbes Celebrity 100 list.

Robert Pattinson with Willem de Kooning's Untitled

Thomas Houseago | Portrait, 2009, Bronze and Californian redwood | Est: US$60,000 - $80,000

Willem de Kooning | Untitled, 1964, Oil on vellum mounted on linen | Est: US$1,800,000 - $2,500,000

Speaking to this new curatorial experience, Pattinson said, “As an actor, I’ve always felt a certain amount of synesthesia between different art forms and being able to connect them together – whether that is a sculpture or a song or an acting part, all at the same time.”

That perhaps explains why the pieces favoured by Pattinson span a variety of media, from sculpture to paintings to collage. Among his choices, he particularly praised Thomas Houseago’s Portrait, a bronze-and-Californian-redwood sculpture which carries an estimate between US$60,000 to $80,000 – saying that it is ‘strange but fascinating’ and created a presence that is looming behind.

The top pick, however, is Willem de Kooning’s Untitled, which is estimated to fetch between US$1.8 to $2.5 million. As with de Kooning’s signature style, the piece shows a balance between figurative and abstract forms, with his use of layers of colourful oil to convey fleshy shapes.

With low estimates ranging from US$30,000 to US$1.8 million, none of these works is likely to break new records, though. For De Kooning, for instance, his curent auction record is at US$68.9 million, set by Woman as Landscape at Christie’s New York in 2018.  

Genieve Figgis | Kissing by the Window, 2015, Acrylic on canvas | Est: US$30,000 - $40,000

Julie Mehretu | Untitled, 2005, Ink, colored pencil, and graphite on paper | Est: US$180,000 - $250,000

Unfinished City, created by Robert Pattinson and put up for sale in 2017

In fact, this is not the first time that Pattinson has allied with auction. In 2017, his own sketch, Unfinished City, was put up for sale at a charity auction, which brought in US$6,400 against the starting price of US$150.

For those interested in bidding on the lots, Pattinson has an advice, “Only acquire pieces that you're going to love, no matter what. Just having something which you're going to keep for the rest of your life is probably the best idea.”

Auction Details:

Auction House: Sotheby's New York
Sale: Contemporary Curated Auction
Date and Time: 30 September 2022 | 10am (New York Time)