• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7600

    Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale

    25 June 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 417

    Etienne (István) Béothy (Hungarian, 1897-1961)

    Monument pour aviateur, Op. 48

    Price Realised  

    Etienne (István) Béothy (Hungarian, 1897-1961)
    Monument pour aviateur, Op. 48
    signed 'E Beothy' (on the back)
    bronze with dark brown patina
    Height: 19¾ in. (50 cm.)
    Conceived in 1931


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    The upward sweep and boldly delineated contours of Etienne Béothy's Aviateur is a totem of the modern age, conveying the idea of flying in three-dimensional abstract form. Combining stylized biomorphic forms with an angularity reminiscent of propeller blades, Aviateur references the industrial optimism of the Italian futurists and distils the artist's interest in the mathematics of proportions. Since 1919, Béothy's research revolved around the golden section and Fibonacci sequence of numbers in an effort to provide evidence of the profound connections between nature, art and mathematical fundamentals, and those formulas contribute to Aviateur's harmonious arrangement of curves and planes.

    Executed in Paris in 1931, Aviateur marks the year Béothy established himself as a founding member of the influential Abstraction-Création group, whose members included Fernand Léger, Piet Mondrian, Alexander Calder and László Moholy-Nagy, among others. As a leading member of Hungary's artistic vanguard, Béothy embraced abstraction early in his career and united the idea of a purely plastic form of creative expression with liberation and free thought. Emerging as an artist during the volatile struggle between Communist and Fascist rule in his native country, Béothy had aligned himself with the progressive young artists and aesthetes of Lajos Kassák's MA (Today) group, whose exhibitions and periodicals disseminated the ideas of new international artistic tendencies. Although the artist followed the group to Vienna after its activities were prohibited in Budapest, he relocated to Paris in 1925, where he would remain for the rest of his life. The Abstraction-Création movement brought together many artists who had fled countries in which avant-garde art was outlawed, and their presence in Paris helped to make it an important centre for abstract art in the 1930s. Establishing themselves as rivals to the predominantly figurative art of the Surrealist movement, the group typically advocated the geometric formalism fostered by Constructivism. Béothy's Aviateur exemplifies this adherence to a strictly abstract discipline, creating a sleek, architectonic sculpture founded on calculable proportions found in nature, thereby representing man's ability to harness the mystical significance of geometry.

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    Provenance

    Carl László, Basel.
    Galerie Levy, Hamburg.
    Private collection, Hamburg.
    Anonymous sale, Hausdewell & Nolte, Hamburg, 23 May 1997, lot 88.
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM THE HOH COLLECTION


    Literature

    A. Meurer, Der Bildhauer Etienne Beothy: Werk und Ästhetik, Marburg, 2002, no. 59 (illustrated pp. 48 & 242).


    Exhibited

    Basel, Galerie Schreier, Avant-Garde der konstruktiven Kunst, 1978, p. 53.
    Marl, Skulpturenmuseum Glaskasten, Etienne Béothy. Ein Klassiker der Bildhauerei. Retrospektive, 1979, no. 18.
    Hamburg & Madrid, Galerie Levy, Ungarische Avantgarde, 1989.
    Paris, Galerie Franka Berndt, Béothy, 1991, p. 11 (illustrated p. 18).
    Altenburg, Lindenau-Museum, Internationale Sprachen der Kunst: Gemälde, Zeichnungen und Skulpturen der Klassischen Moderne aus der Sammlung Hoh, August - October 1998, no. 9 (illustrated p. 39); this exhibition later travelled to Osnabrück, Kulturgeschichtliches Museum Felix-Nussbaum-Haus, Dortmund, Museum am Ostwall and Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum.
    Hamburg, Ernst Barlach Haus, Stiftung Hermann F. Reemtsma, Kunst ohne Grenzen, Werke der Internationalen Avantgarde von 1910 bis 1940 aus der Sammlung Hoh, January - April 2005, no. 43 (illustrated p. 62).