1920 BY E. CHARLTON FORTUNE
John Moran Auctioneers is holding a sale of Californian and American Art in Pasadena on February 17. The auction is also seconded by LiveAuctioneers.
The highlighted lot is an oil on canvas 96x114 cm signed E. Charlton Fortune. This painting entitled Town Gossip was made in 1920 and then mounted on panel at the request of the artist. We see some people gathered to chat in the middle of the road of a seaside village.
This lot is estimated 600 K $. The works of Euphemia (Effie) Charlton Fortune are rare at auction. Artvalue gives only 14 results, all registered in California. A painting showing the sea with the colors of late afternoon had reached $ 1.6 million on 10 December 2007 at Bonhams in San Francisco.
Effie's work reminds me of one of her contemporaries: Tom Thomson from Canada, who died in 1917 at age 40. The color and texture are dominant, the realistic design fully respects the perspective.
1921 olga and the antique
A drawing 64 x 49 cm in red and black chalks is estimated $ 6M for sale by Sotheby's in New York on November 4, lot 7T.
Picasso was a great draughtsman. He uses the best traditional effects of the sanguine to provide texture and depth to this nice woman's head. The result reminds the ancient marbles.
Yet the figure of his wife Olga merges here with the antique models. We recognize her straight nose and her oval face. Pablo managed the feat to make a drawing altogether timeless and intimate.
I invite you to watch the video shared by Sotheby's.
1922 Painting-Secession by Georgia O'Keeffe
2016 SOLD for $ 13M including premium
Stieglitz is also linked with Europeans painters. In 1908 he exhibits at his gallery in New York some works by Picasso, Matisse, Braque and Cézanne. The early abstract drawings by Georgia O'Keeffe are sincere and authentic creations in which he sees the seed for an American art.
After meeting with Stieglitz, Georgia is occupied as a model for the photographer and her creative activity is slowing. Each summer they spend some time together in the Stieglitz family country house at Lake George in upper state New York. Still attentive to abstraction, Georgia observes how nature uses geometry to construct landscapes and flowers.
On May 19 in New York, Christie's sells Lake George Reflection, oil on canvas 147 x 86 cm probably painted during the summer of 1922, lot 14 estimated $ 8M.
The theme is a classic landscape whose colors are more expressive than realistic. Georgia conceived that a reflection of the mountain in the water can be perfect if the weather is fine. The shore of the lake separates the picture into two halves of identical width.
And Hop ! At its first exhibition in January 1923, the artist positions it as a vertical work. The observer sees what he wishes to see : a symmetrical abstraction, a New York street lined with skyscrapers, the inside of a flower revealing the pistil, or a sexual symbol. The double meaning is revealed by the title of the work : it is a view of Lake George.
In 1913, Kandinsky had promoted non-figurative art with his story of a watercolor viewed after a fall over. In 1912, the double meaning of the Octopus photograph by Coburn anticipated the surrealism by more than ten years. The image of Lake George by O'Keeffe is a reflection in water and a reflection on the artistic language.
1922 Sapphic Eden viewed by Maxfield Parrish
2006 SOLD for $ 7.6M including premium by Christie's
2010 SOLD 5.2 M$ including premium
Away from the artistic trends, Maxfield Parrish is now recognized as the pioneer of fantastic art. Professional illustrator, prolific author of posters and calendars, he uses a sharp line and bright colors to evoke fairy themes.
Daybreak, executed in 1922, is his biggest hit, a favorite image of Americans, to whom it provides an idea of paradise.
The artwork, as seen in the article Daybreak (painting) of Wikipedia, is carefully composed. In the background, the light of dawn bathes a landscape of mountains. In the foreground, between two huge endless columns, two young women wake up. One of them, lying, is dressed in a light coat like the antique Greeks. The other is standing, and leans over her friend. She is totally naked.
The original oil on board, 67 x 114 cm, was sold $ 7.6 million including premium at Christie's on May 25, 2006. It comes back in the same auction house in New York on May 20, on occasion (as gossiped) of the marital problems of a filmmaker. It is estimated $ 4 million.
The sale includes also several other paintings by this artist.
POST SALE COMMENT
The estimate had been perfectly logical. The upper estimate, which I had not copied (in conformance with my practice) was $ 7 million, comparable to the 2006 result. The existence of a dedicated collector, even if anonymous, always drives the price. When that collector is selling, we can therefore expect a decline, even if the seller is identified.
The lower estimate, $ 4 million, was well targeted. Daybreak was sold $ 5.2 million including premium.
The picture is shared by Wikimedia :
1922 Promise for an Odalisque
2017 SOLD for £ 4.4M including premium
The figuration of his models also changes. However he remains much demanding with these young women who have to undergo very long poses. Perhaps the artist understood their disappointment when they viewed their pretty faces in Fauvist colors.
Henri sees his future odalisque in 1920. Henriette is 19 years old. Her forms are sculptural : she is tall, and harmoniously muscled by the practice of dance. She is proud of her body and enjoys to dress up. The artist has no sexual desire for his models and Henriette is warmly greeted by his family. Until 1927 she was Henri's favorite model.
On June 27 in London, Christie's sells Nu sur fond rouge, oil on canvas 56 x 34 cm painted in 1922, lot 18 estimated £ 4M. This lot had been sold for $ 4.5M including premium by Sotheby's on November 7, 2007.
The young woman is standing in the nude in full length. The hands resting on the back of the head provide her a fresh and innocent attitude despite the shameless full front nudity. The slightly shiny color of her skin is realistic. The colorful carpets and draperies confirm the artist's quest for orientalism.
1923 Korovin attracted by the Lights of the City
2009 SOLD 1.18 M$ including premium
Konstantin Korovin was known in Russia for his paintings of various subjects with strong brush strokes and bright colors. His Russian works display a peaceful happiness influenced by the impressionists, and are searched.
In 1923, he left his country that had become Soviet. He stops first in Berlin, where he stayed shortly before fixing his residence in Paris. He will specialize in original night scenes showing the streets illuminated by urban and car lights. I do not know if this was a very good idea for him to come to Paris. The end of his life was difficult and he was acknowledged posthumously.
Made during his visit to Berlin, an oil on canvas, 110 x 76 cm, is an astonishing work of transition between the two periods of the artist. Before the open window, two midinettes (working girls) simper towards the observer. They are dressed (if not got up) in the so typical fashion of those years, with very long skirts and milliner hats with round cap and wide brim.
And behind the window, prescient of the evolution of the artist, the city is shining in the night.
This curious work is estimated 600 K$ by Sotheby's. It is for sale on November 2 in New York.
POST SALE COMMENT
This original painting was important for understanding the work of Korovin. It had also the sweet scent of the Roaring Twenties (les "Années folles ...").
The market has confirmed its importance: $ 1.18 million fees included.
The image of this painting is shared post sale by Art Market Monitor (third from top).
1923 THE FINAL YEARS OF LOVIS CORINTH
2008 SOLD 620 K€ INCLUDING PREMIUM
2008 was the hundred-fiftieth year of the birth of the Berlinese painter Lovis Corinth. Several exhibitions have been devoted to him. The auction house Villa Grisebach ends this series of celebrations by a sale in Berlin on November 28. A separate catalog is devoted to twelve paintings and watercolors by the artist.
The late works are well represented, starting with a view of Walchensee, oil on board 59 x 72 cm, lot 26. A few spots of color are sufficient to provide a presence at this beautiful lake in the mist. An estimated 400 K €.
The same place in 1924 has inspired a moonlight, oil on panel 66 x 53 cm, a composition which is also expected at 400 K €, lot 29. These dramatic themes are the most wanted, like a morning fog painted in the same year, 70 x 90 cm, sold 810 K £ including fees by Sotheby's in 2004 (seen on Artvalue).
At Lot 24, a self portrait shows the gloomy artist at the same lake. This is an oil on panel of 1922, 42 x 57 cm, also at 400 K €.
We conclude this visit with flowers, 1923, a watercolor and gouache 47 x 61 cm well colored, estimated at 180 K €, lot 21.
In the last years of his life, the style of Corinth, formerly rather realistic, became an interesting mix of impressionism and expressionism, very personal.
POST SALE COMMENT
A sale where the results are high, in a sequence that does not follow the estimates, is the best proof that the customers were passionate.
Two flowers were particularly honored. The watercolor Lot 21, very aesthetic, was sold 620 K €, and obtains the highest price for this set. Another bouquet that I had not mentioned because it is older (1915) has reached 480 K € on an estimate of 250 K €. This is an oil on canvas, 50 x 42 cm.
The moonlight, Lot 29, I thought it would sell well, actually obtained 540 K €.
Lot 26, which I liked on the web, rightly reminds us that the actual artwork must be analyzed and not its image. It has not been sold.
The self portrait at Lot 24 is announced on the site with a provisional price, which means that it is under negotiation.
Above results include fees.
1924 The Mystery of the Iron Horse
2014 SOLD 1.93 M$ including premium
Charley was a cowboy before being an artist. Unlike Remington, he was not working as an illustrator and did not want to compromise with eastern American lifestyle. His wife Nancy seconded him to disclose his art.
The cowboy gradually understood the way of thinking of the Natives. He was resolutely hostile to the automobile considered as a danger to their fragile civilizations. His attitude concerning the railway is similar though less virulent.
On July 26 in Reno, The Coeur d'Alene Art Auction sells a watercolor 45 x 70 cm made in 1924 that perfectly illustrates the ambiguity of progress. Titled Trail of the Iron Horse, it is estimated $ 1.5 M. Here is the link to the website of the auction house.
A group of Indians is stopped by the rails crossing the prairie. The frightened horses do not dare jumping this barrier and we understand that their riders have similar doubts.
The artist shows the scene at sunrise or sunset. Painter and watercolorist, Charley was careful to use a wide range of beautiful colors despite the difficulties of supply in the remote areas where he had chosen to live.
1924 Dream on a Tub
His art is not influenced by trends. He is not impressionistic in his technique and his world is neither realistic nor surrealistic. The theme is dominated by an illusion translated by unexpected shapes and a very wide palette of colors in pastel hues.
Marthe is his main model since 1893. She builds her own universe beside the painter without revealing her real name and age. They do not need social conventions. In 1925 Pierre rightly fears that she becomes jealous and sick. To stabilize their relationship, he marries her.
Around 1910 Pierre photographies Marthe crouching naked on the tub, a sponge in her hand. The leaning head is in the shadow. Washing herself is a good excuse for a painting of the female nude. He begins around 1916 his series of nudes in a tub.
On February 27 in London, Christie's sells a Femme au tub, oil on canvas 130 x 81 cm painted in 1924, lot 17 estimated £ 4M.
Considered as his ultimate achievement in this theme, this painting shows a woman from dreams, standing full front in the basin. By her very long legs, she is Marthe. By her young and sculptural body, she is not Marthe.
She is shown in a fugitive and intimate gesture, like a snapshot created by the artist's imagination. The two blurry hands are lifted as if she were mimicking the use of the sponge. Intimate without being erotic, she is a vision of beauty. The head remained in the shadow.
1925 First Trip to the Rocky Mountains
2017 SOLD for $ 3M CAD including premium
The method for recording the view is classic : Harris makes sketches in pencil during his trips. Back in his studio he observes the geometric principles in his own panoramas and highlights them in bright colors.
On November 22 in Toronto, Heffel sells a view of partially snow-capped mountains over Maligne Lake in the province of Alberta. The immaculate snow draws the eye towards the upper part and reveals the tectonic folds difficult to observe in the dark of the rest of the image.
Dated 1925 this oil on canvas 103 x 133 cm was exhibited in 1926 in a Toronto gallery. Disparagers question whether the artist wants to display a dehumanized landscape or an umbrella.
Encouraged by these protests, Harris goes even further. He paints in the same year his masterpiece simply titled Mountain Form. The size 152 x 178 cm is even larger and the geometric beauty of the mountain is enhanced by the removal of secondary reliefs. This oil on canvas was sold for $ 11.2M CAD including premium by Heffel on November 23, 2016.
Let us go back to the Maligne Lake Mountains for the next sale. The oil on canvas is estimated $ 2.5M CAD, lot 118. It is illustrated in the press release announcing the sale. The next lot in that sale, 119, is its 11.4 x 19.7 cm graphite sketch estimated $ 8K CAD.
RESULTS INCLUDING PREMIUM :
Painting SOLD for $ 3M CAD
Sketch SOLD for $ 7.5K CAD
1925 The Irish Market
2011 SOLD 1 M€ (before fees ?)
Just after independence, the Yeats brothers greatly honored the Irish Free State on the international scene. In 1923,William was the first Irishman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. In 1924, his younger brother Jack is the first Irishman to win an Olympic medal, a silver medal in the painting competition.
A market scene in the county of Mayo, at the extreme northwest of the island, was painted by Jack B. Yeats in 1925.
The nervous line of Yeats makes his art close to the expressionists, especially Kokoschka. However the intense and active life of this painting rather appeals a post-Cubist influence.
The urban setting is barely sketched, but we are actually in the middle of one of these huge fair spaces of Ireland. The colorful characters are Irish peasants, certainly.
This success in recreating a local atmosphere inspired De Valera, who got the painting in loan. With such a recommendation of the most famous of the Irish statesmen, this oil on canvas, 61 x 91 cm, can climb to the rank of a masterpiece of modern Irish art. It is illustrated in the article shared by The Irish Times.
It is estimated € 500K, to be sold by Adam's in Dublin on September 28.
POST SALE COMMENT
The auction house has just announced on Twitter that the painting was sold € 1M to a private Irish collector.
I guess that it is the hammer price.
1925 The Strident Countryside of Emil Nolde
2010 SOLD 1.04 M€ including premium
In contact with German art movements, often regarded himself as an expressionist, Emil Nolde managed to maintain his independence. His vision as a colorist made him one of the most original figurative artists of his time.
His colors are realistic, but their brilliance is pushed to the extreme. The yellows are really shrill. When he shows wildflowers in close-ups or a country landscape, he is literally attacking the scenery with a fierce light which is made dramatic by heavy cloud formations.
These topics could be romantic, but Nolde goes further. The contrast of colors and the use of a thick material take preeminence over form, making this artist a real precursor of the abstract colorists.
On November 26 in Berlin, Grisebach sells a landscape view by Nolde, estimated € 1M. On this oil on canvas, 73 x 88 cm, dated 1925, the sun rays pierce at random, dramatically illuminating the edge of a storm cloud and the narrow front side of the river that runs through the country.
POST SALE COMMENT
Good price, € 1.04 million including premium, for this expressive landscape which does not, however, reach the lower estimate.
1925 a handsome italian dandy
The openly bisexual young woman appeals the wealthy clients to whom she proposes to realize their portraits. She studies the paintings of the Italian Renaissance and offers soft colors and sharp realistic lines barely altered by the cubism that André Lhote had taught to her.
The elite conquered by Tamara dresses according to fashion. In addition to their pictorial quality, her paintings remain a testimony and even a symbol of the Roaring Twenties.
The reputation of sexual freedom of the Italian aristocracy suits her purpose. In 1925, she leaves for new adventures. It succeeded : the young dandies invite her in their bed.
The portraits are made with bold angles. The Marquis d'Afflito is nonchalant, slumped on a sofa, but he is handsome and ready to intervene. This oil on canvas 81 x 130 cm was sold for $ 4.6 million including premium by Christie's on November 7, 2012.
Tamara made two portraits of the Marquis Sommi who was one of her lovers in the same Italian getaway. The vertical format is more sober and may be compared with Zborowski's friends painted by Modigliani in the previous decade. One of them, 100 x 73 cm, was sold for $ 4.3 million including premium by Christie's on 3 November 2009. The other portrait of Sommi, 135 x 71 cm, is estimated $ 4M for sale by Sotheby's in New York on November 14, lot 31.
1925 How Miro loved his Brunette
Miro is one of the early adopters of surrealism, defined by Breton in 1924. His art becomes totally dreamlike and even hallucinatory. His creative process does not need the help of a group. In fact he progresses alone, altogether captivated and anxious by the new avenues that he will open.
Surrealism however offered him a close contact with the poets, especially with the young Queneau. The titles, sometimes quite long, of the new paintings by Miro are alternately an exciting help to the interpretation of the image or a disturbing text that reminds that nothing is simple.
On February 7, 2012, Christie's sold for £ 17M including premium a hermetic picture painted in 1925, 130 x 96 cm, fully crossed by its extraordinary title-poem : "le corps de ma brune puisque je l'aime comme ma chatte habillée en vert salade comme de la grêle c'est pareil".
At the other end of the style of the artist in the same year, Christie's sold for $ 13.7 million including premium on November 7, 2012 Peinture (femme, journal, chien), 92 x 73 cm, a stylized but still figurative image that had belonged to Queneau.
And now, halfway between these two trends, Miro's brunette comes again, also from 1925. On November 6 in New York, Sotheby's sells Bonheur d'aimer ma brune, oil on canvas 73 x 92 cm, which was also acquired by Queneau.
The ghost woman would have please Blake. She lets herself be kissed by a man with wire-like legs. A streaky spot on the left of the couple is the mandolin of this serenade. The title is gently confined to a corner of the image. This fine example of a surrealist interpretation of the usual theme of love is romantic despite its simplicity.
Bonheur d'aimer ma brune is estimated $ 9M. Here is the link to the catalog.
1925 A TATAR IN THE FAR WEST
Emigrated to the United States after the October Revolution, Nicolai Fechin settled in the wilds of the West whose ambiance reminded him his native Tatarstan.
This artist is valued as a landscape painter of the generation which had succeeded to the Itinerants. On February 16 in Pasadena, John Moran Auctioneers is selling an oil on canvas signed in 1925, 75 x 65 cm, probably made in Taos, New Mexico, which became the residence of the artist. The subject is a sycamore with its twisted trunk, well emphasized by a thick texture in a beautiful contrast of shadow and light. This lot is estimated $ 250K.
Fechin was especially famous as a portraitist. On February 19, 2008, the same auction house had recorded one of the highest prices for this artist, $ 1.09 million including premium for the portrait of a wood engraver, 127 x 101 cm, made in 1924.
Here is the image of this painting shared by News Antique.
1925-1926 Simple Betrayal
2019 SOLD for € 850K including premium
Attentive to avant-garde art, Magritte is subjugated in 1923 by an image of the Canto d'amore, a surrealist work painted in 1914 by De Chirico. Ordinary objects constitute a poetic universe if their positioning is absurd.
On March 29 in Paris, Sotheby's sells La salle d'armes, oil and industrial painting on jute canvas 78 x 63 cm painted by Magritte in 1925 or 1926, lot 411 estimated € 700K.
The room proper is the interior of an elongated cube, totally symmetrical with perfect perspective lines. The only decoration is the large target in four concentric rings on the back wall. The only furniture is a coffee table. The X-ray inspection reveals that La salle d'armes had overpainted a geometric abstraction, a style that no longer suits Magritte's fancy.
No gun or arrow is visible but a heap of figs lies on the table. The absurd dimension is very simply ensured by the bust of a woman that hangs upside down from the ceiling and whose base overflows the upper stripe of the false frame. In the surrealist world of De Chirico, the marble bust was symbolizing the actuality of antiquity.
From 1926 Magritte observes that an image of an object remains an image and is not the object. He begins to confront the drawing of his pipe with the word 'pipe' or with an abstraction. In 1929 La trahison des images is an artistic manifesto of a sublime simplicity, in just six words: "Ceci n'est pas une pipe."
In the same period Miro also was appreciating that the new poetic dimension of modern art was a personal work that could not be attached to a movement and even less to a political affiliation.
1926 Lawren Harris in the Freezing Light
2009 SOLD for $ 3.5M CAD including premium
Familiar with the country of extreme freezing, including the North Shore of Lake Superior and Baffin Bay, Harris provides a stylized vision. The composition highlights a detail in a landscape, usually frozen. The composition is reminiscent of the countless photographs of winter in Niagara, but in addition he draws the light.
Art is to Harris a medium to a metaphysical research. Dating from 1926, a painting of Lake Superior is perhaps the most complete and most reproduced of his works . A trunk stands alone in the middle of the image. It stops like a burned tree or a broken column, and is fully within the ice. The sunlight from the left is revealing an extraordinary purity of the air.
This image has been chosen to illustrate the Wikipedia article devoted to Harris. The work, 102 x 128 cm, is preserved at the National Gallery of Canada.
On November 26 in Toronto, Heffel auctions the last preparatory sketch for this painting. It is an oil on board, 30 x 38 cm, whose image is identical to the final masterpiece. It is estimated 2 MCan$.
POST SALE COMMENT
Heffel auction house had understood that they had in hand a masterpiece of Harris. Sold 3.5 MCan$ including premium, this work obtains the second highest price of all time for Canadian Art, according to the press release issued after the sale.
Other outstanding results were recorded in this sale, including another painting of Harris at 2.8 MCan$ including premium, and a painting by Thomson at 2.75 MCan$ including premium.
1926 The Freezing Truth of Lake Superior
2014 SOLD for $ 2.5M CAD including premium
His early landscape paintings of Lake Superior are classic but already show the uselessness of men whose characters and artifacts disappear from his field of vision. From 1924, conscious of approaching a timeless truth, he often misses to date his paintings.
His masterpieces were made around 1926. The end of man is followed by the death of the tree, in the resplendent glory of sun, air and light whose rays and halos reach a mystical purity.
Harris had not finished his progress towards the truth of the North. When mountains and icebergs from the polar regions supersede the lake, the stumps also vanish.
The sketch in oil on board 30 x 38 cm sold for CAD 3.5 million including premium by Heffel on November 26, 2009 is a transition between both styles, lake and polar. The trunk without branches is entirely wrapped in ice.
Two other views of Lake Superior painted in the same period and probably showing the same location are announced.
On May 26 in Toronto, Waddingtons sells an outstanding oil on canvas 102 x 127 cm estimated CAD 2.5M.
On May 28 in Vancouver, Heffel sells a preparatory work in oil on panel 31 x 38 cm estimated CAD 500K.
I invite you to play the video shared on YouTube by Waddingtons.
POST SALE COMMENTS
The large size painting was sold for CAD 2.5M including premium by Waddingtons, close to the estimate.
Very good price by Heffel for the smaller painting : CAD 970K including premium.
1926 The Brussels Mountain Range
In 1926 the young artist is prolific : he builds his new universe. His image is deliberately simple, to avoid any ambiguity of interpretation of the elements. The world is not populated by human beings but by bowling pins. Accessories are tables, boxes, clouds.
The mountain range is used several times as a backdrop. The dreamlike dimension is sometimes brought by a single element. The results below include the premium.
For example in Les Signes du soir, oil on canvas 75 x 65 cm, the large frame is a trompe-l'oeil, leaving to the viewer to choose whether the tree is in the painting or elsewhere. This artwork was sold for £ 1.8M by Christie's on February 27, 2018.
In Le Toit du Monde, 65 x 75 cm, a violin stick is raised in the middle of the table. The stage is curled to imitate the folds of the mountain and its surface is holed like a cheese of Gruyere. It was sold for € 2.7M by Sotheby's on October 19, 2017.
In L'Esprit du voyageur, of same size, a tall bowling pin positioned inside a group of three porticoes admires the immensity of nature. The foreground of the mountain appears in space like a flat cardboard. It was sold for £ 460K by Christie's on February 9, 2011.
On June 18 in London, Christie's sells Le Parc du vautour, lot 19 estimated £ 2.5M. In a double width format 65 x 150 cm unusual for this series, everything is made for the comfort of a possible vulture : it can land on a portico or a pole, or take shelter in a wooden box that contains a large tree.
1927 Gentle Indians of NC Wyeth
2020 SOLD for $ 3.5M including premium
He traveled the West in 1904 and 1906. For Wyeth, Indians are calm and sympathetic. They live with ingenuity in these immaculate conditions of which Frederic Remington had just seen the inexorable disappearance.
In 1908 Wyeth declared that painting and illustration are two different arts that cannot be mixed. He was probably concerned that his growing reputation as an illustrator would hurt his clients' demands for larger format paintings.
Indian Love Call, oil on canvas 117 x 176 cm in arched format painted in 1927, is typical of Wyeth's romanticism. The young Indian in his birch wood canoe plays the flute to attract a young woman who listens in the distance, in front of her tipi.
This work had been privately commissioned by an employee of a publishing house. Kept in the family, it surfaced unrecorded 80 years later. It was sold for $ 1.83M including premium by Sotheby's on November 28, 2007, lot 39, and is estimated $ 2M for sale by Christie's in New York on October 28, lot 15.
#AuctionUpdate Newell Convers Wyeth, 'Indian Love Call' achieved $3,510,000. One of Wyeth's favorite motifs in his Native American paintings was the solitary Indian in a reflective mood, as shown in this mural alongside the tranquility of the landscape. https://t.co/FlaKVSgIBM pic.twitter.com/ezUhP0xRMM— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) October 28, 2020
1927 Max Ernst and the Disasters of War
2011 SOLD 2.5 M€ including premium
Max Ernst was disgusted by the First World War. In 1927, his hybrid forms, neither men, nor trees, nor rocks, are nightmares reminiscent of the still fresh horrors. The technique of frottage (rubbing pencil) generates a blur exalting interpretation.
Like Goya, he had a biting irony. Like Goya, his art was militant.
Entitled La Carmagnole, an oil on canvas 73 x 93 cm is an infernal dance. The title is remarkably chosen by reference to the revolutionary dance that symbolizes so well the illusory hopes and the brutality of the men of 1789.
This painting is for sale on December 8 by Sotheby's in Paris. The estimate, € 1.5 million, may seem too low. Here is the link to the catalog.
In the same style, on the same year, Ernst also painted the Horde, considered as one of his masterpieces. This altogether bestial scene displays standing brutes along with victims on the ground with wide holes in the head, like a terrible link between Goya and Guernica.
POST SALE COMMENT
This outstanding and disturbing painting was worth better than its estimate. It was sold € 2.5 million including premium.
1927 American Horse Riding
2017 SOLD for $ 1.7M including premium
In 1924 he made a dream trip of six months in the United States during which he visited the hunt and polo clubs of New England and Long Island. The similarities of the American and English gentry immediately put him at ease.
On May 24 in New York, Sotheby's sells three oils on canvas memorizing this itinerary. Note that the women ride on sidesaddle.
Lot 72, 78 x 85 cm, estimated $ 300K, is the portrait of the wife of one of his New England hosts riding Desert Queen. The mare is standing, gently raising a foreleg. The woman had probably posed in the studio.
The husband was so pleased with the above portrait that he commissioned the artist to display him on his gray horse Powder Puff accompanied by his pack. Forming a pendant with the previous lot, it is offered with the same estimate as lot 73.
Unlike the two previous lots, lot 74 was painted around 1927, long after the come back of the artist to England, when the illustrated Long Island riding champion girl prepares to marry an English aristocrat. Miss Ruth Brady is riding the energetic Bugle Call and is accompanied by a beautiful dog. This oil on canvas 85 x 101 cm is estimated $ 1,4M and the subject of the tweet below.
RESULTS INCLUDING PREMIUM
Lot 74 : $ 1.7M
Lots 72 and 73 : $ 370K each
1928 AFRICAN EXPRESSIONISM OF IRMA STERN
Irma Stern was born in Transvaal but went to Germany with her parents after the Boer War, and her training was influenced by artists from the group Die Brücke.
Back in South Africa in 1920, she began to observe the women of her country.
In 1928, Stern is 34 years old. An oil on canvas, 100 x 95 cm, shows a typical African theme: lemon picking by a teamof Swazi women. This dense and rhythmic composition, dominated by a woman in the foreground, is decidedlyexpressionist while also close to the stylized Art Déco designs of that time.
This painting is estimated ZAR 10M, for sale by Strauss in Cape Town on March 7.
This rural scene is an early work, anticipating both the artist's passion for travel and her skill as a colorist. It containsthe seeds of the great variety of her original and sensitive art.
1929 Renaissance after Dada
2019 SOLD for £ 3.7M including premium
Francis Picabia broke with Dada in 1921 and with Breton in 1924. Gertrude Stein will however identify him as the archetype of the surrealist artist. He begins in 1928 his series of Transparences.
Choosing in his art books the images of antique statues and of Renaissance paintings, he copies them in intermingled line drawings. This approach pleases Duchamp who sees in it a non-stereoscopic creation of the third dimension. The title sometimes reveals the origin of the main model, for example Hera, or Adam and Eve.
On February 26 in London, Sotheby's sells Atrata, oil and pencil on panel 150 x 95 cm painted circa 1929, lot 38 estimated £ 1.5M. The composition is centered on the portrait of a man by Botticelli. The view is very blurred by the subsidiary images, except the almost horizontal alignment of four eyes that certainly delighted Duchamp. It is decoded in the video shared by the auction house.
Mélibée, oil on canvas 195 x 130 cm painted circa 1931, is an exception in this series by the unambiguous belonging of the transparent elements to a unique theme, consistent moreover with the personal difficulties of Picabia rejected successively by his wife and his mistress.
In La Celestina, Mélibée is the lover pushed to suicide by the death of her lover fallen from the ladder while passing the high wall of the garden after their sexual activity. Published in 1499 in Burgos as a dialogue, this work had many assets to please the surrealists : it is neither a novel, nor a poem, nor a play, the story is torrid, and the name of the alleged author is only revealed by the suite of initial letters in the stanzas of the prologue.
In Picabia's painting, the face copying a Madonna by Piero della Francesca remains very fair and the superposition of branches, leaves and pine needles is a reference to the garden of love. Her lover is curled up in full nudity in a corner.
Announced by gallery owners Marianne and Pierre Nahon as the preferred artwork in their collection, Mélibée is estimated € 2,5M for sale by Sotheby's in Paris on March 19, lot 10.
Transparences cannot be used to illustrate a book and the source of inspiration is too difficult to convey to the public. Mélibée appears like an ultimate achievement of this short lived style terminated by Picabia in 1933.
RESULTS including premium :
Atrata : SOLD for £ 3.7M
Mélibée : SOLD for € 3.9M
1929 Mythologies by Picabia
2020 SOLD for € 3.96M including premium
The first exhibition took place in Paris in 1928. Léonce Rosenberg, owner of L'Effort Moderne gallery, is convinced and buys for his personal use several paintings which would decorate his apartment alongside works by Léger and De Chirico.
Minos, oil, watercolor and pencil on panel 151 x 97 cm, is painted in 1929 on a specific order from Rosenberg. Minos is that king of Crete who locked up in the Labyrinth the Minotaur, one of the inspiring flagships of surrealism. The statue of Augustus as Jupiter Capitolinus is mingled with elements from the Virgin and Child with Five Angels by Botticelli. By the difference in scale, Jupiter appears like a doll whose feet are held by two Christian hands.
Minos is estimated € 2.8M for sale by Sotheby's in Paris on October 21, lot 10. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
Atrata, a panel of similar dimensions, overlays the Atlas Farnese in a portrait of a man by Botticelli. The entomological meaning of the title Atrata responds to another passion of Picabia, impossible to decode for most of his visitors. Purchased during the same period by Rosenberg, Atrata may have inspired his order for the Minos, a less hermetic reference. Atrata was sold for £ 3.7M including premium by Sotheby's on February 26, 2019 from a lower estimate of £ 1.5M.
Picabia went too far into iconoclasm, even from a surrealist viewpoint. He terminated this series of Transparences in 1933.
1929 FESTIVAL FOR IRMA STERN IN LONDON
2008 SOLD 260 K£ INCLUDING PREMIUM
The press release for the sale of Bonhams in London on September 10 announced 38 oils on canvas of Irma Stern. It is therefore worth the effort to go and see some details.
Over its sales of South African art, Bonhams is proving to be the best specialist of Irma Stern, and is assisted for some lots in the catalogue by the Irma Stern Museum.
Let us go back to the context of the earlier sale. On November 25, I wrote in my blog:
"On January 30, Bonhams London organize a South African art sale dominated by two paintings of Irma Stern estimated 300 and 250 K £. The first, a tribal portrait, should be the highest price for the artist, over a less typed portrait."
As always, I announced the result of the sale:
"SOLD: paintings by Irma Stern: three ethnic portraits were sold £ 280, 240 and 230 K, a still life £ 320 K and a scene of grape pickers £ 180 K. These prices are before fees."
Between these two releases, the portrait of a Congolese woman, 60 x 50 cm, psychologically very hard as it is often the case with Stern, reached 570 K£ costs included, at Christie's on December 12.
Let us return to our September sales. The two groups most sought of the work of the artist compete once again for stardom.
As for still lifes, a composition with dahlias and gladioli, 85x85 cm, lot 365, is estimated £ 200 K. The subject is very colourful and occupies the whole surface of the canvas.
For what I called above tribal portraits, the choice is very wide. I recall that the top results in January did not follow the hierarchy of the estimates of the catalog, demonstrating the passion of buyers for this artist whose ten highest results date of less than one year.
The work that seems more interesting, lot 313 at £ 250 K, is the portrait of a Swazi girl in traditional clothes, 93 x 70 cm. Her anxious attitude leads to a strong presence. This work, undated, is close to another of 1929, catalogue says. Indeed, other portraits made from 1929 to 1933 found in the databases have the same nervous style.
POST SALE COMMENT
Irma Stern met all expectations made on her. Her works performed remarkably grouped in both categories of subjects. Such result confirms a firm, solid and sustainable rating for this artist.
Four portraits were distributed, excluding costs, between 240 and 330 K £. The number 313, which was my preferred, remained at 260 K £.
Five still lifes were divided, excluding costs, between 240 and 300 K £, including lot 365 at 280 K £.
We cannot leave this sale without reporting the sensational result of the other lot that I mentioned in my preview of July 27. This painting by Jacob Hendrik Pierneef, 112x142 cm, showing a baobab tree was sold 720 K £ excluding fees.