The Estate of Edgar M. Bronfman
The Estate of Huguette M. Clark
Property from the Viktor and Marianne Langen Collection
MAY 6 EVENING SALE LED BY THE GIANTS OF IMPRESSIONIST AND MODERN ART:
Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky, Pierre Auguste Renoir,
Joan Miró, Alberto Giacometti and Salvador Dalí
Evening Sale Expected to Achieve in Excess of US$245 Million
New York – Christie’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale, Including Property from the Estate of Edgar M. Bronfman, on May 6 in New York will feature an exceptional selection of 54 works of every media by the most revered artists of the Twentieth Century. The best Impressionist works by Monet and Renoir to come to market in many years from the Estate of Huguette Clark are coupled with equally distinguished examples by Degas from the Estate of Edgar Bronfman. Important Modern works by Picasso, Kandinsky, Braque and Dalí from the collection of Viktor and Marianne Langen pair with an orientalist van Dongen and an arcadian Picasso also from the Bronfman estate. The evening sale is expected to achieve in excess of $245 million.
Brooke Lampley, Head of Impressionist & Modern Art, comments: “Christie’s is excited to offer our strongest May evening sale of Impressionist & Modern Art since the record breaking sale of the Brody collection in May 2010. Our two top lots – Huguette Clark’s arresting Monet Nymphéas of 1907 and Picasso’s regal portrait of Dora Maar of 1942- delineate the radical aesthetic developments in avant-garde painting in the first half of the Twentieth Century, while also showcasing the collecting eye of both Americans and Europeans of the past century to present day. The Bronfman Collection enhances this story, itself a perfect capsule view of American art collecting in the past 50 years.”
Andreas Rumbler, Deputy Chairman, Impressionist & Modern Art, adds: “The selection of works from the Viktor and Marianne Langen Collection encompasses seminal works by the Modern Masters. Amongst major oil paintings by Picasso and Kandinsky, two superb works on paper by Picasso and Leger, delicate and strong, lead the sale. In fact the Leger was already purchased some 60 years ago by the collector couple when it was shown in their home town Düsseldorf shortly after its execution.”
Important American collections offered in the May 6 evening sale are The Estate of Huguette M. Clark, which is highlighted by Monet’s Nymphéas (illustrated page 1, left; estimate: $25-35 million) and three paintings by Renoir (to read the separate press release, click here), and Property from the Estate of Edgar M. Bronfman, which includes works by Picasso, Matisse, and Degas, as well as a selection of Impressionist and Modern works in the day and works on paper sales (to read the press release, click here).
ROPERTY FROM THE VIKTOR AND MARIANNE LANGEN COLLECTION
From the Viktor and Marianne Langen Collection Christie’s will offer a group of ten works, including paintings by Picasso, Kandinsky, Dalí and Braque, which all come to auction for the first time. Further works from this German collection will be offered in Christie’s London sales in June and July.
Pablo Picasso’s (1881-1973) Portrait de Femme (Dora Maar) is a dramatic, and characteristically distorted, depiction of his mistress and muse, painted on 5 August 1942 (illustrated page 1, right; estimate: $25-35 million). Elegantly adorned in a purple dress and a tricorne hat to match, Dora sits enthroned like an impressively scaled icon. She embodies the cubist distortions and deformations that have become her signature, which are grippingly psychological in their impact. The trademark features are present – that famous rhinal appendage, the thick shoulder length hair, eyes positioned out-of-place. Picasso’s relentless deconstructing and reconfiguring of Dora’s features and her mysteriously intense but inscrutably impassive visage reflects the turbulence in Europe during the Second World War. Harsh treatment notwithstanding, Dora has rarely assumed such an essential demeanor of hieratic nobility, or been so authoritatively monumental in her pictorial presence, as she appears here.
Wassily Kandinsky’s (1866-1944) Strandszene was executed in 1909 during a period of radical and unprecedented transformation in the artist’s work, which resulted in his first truly non-objective and abstract works (estimate: $16-22 million). Kandinsky forged in this landscape and related subjects of 1909 a distinctively Russian brand of Fauve colorism. Important pictorial elements evident in Strandszene – the steeply arched mountain-form as a chief compositional element and the use of linear motifs – later appear in Kandinsky’s milestone Compositions of 1910. While Kandinsky likely painted Strandszene in Murnau, the mountainous background and figures in this picture appear to have been worked from memories of beaches he had visited while traveling in Italy and Tunisia. The figure clad in a full-length white garment and others wearing black specifically suggest a North African locale, perhaps one of the beaches Kandinsky gazed upon at while staying in Bizerte, Tunis, Carthage and Sousse. These orientalist motifs provided Kandinsky with an authentic and universally timeless backdrop of the kind he required for his keen interest in apocalyptic imagery and themes. Christie’s currently holds the world auction record for a work of art by Kandinsky, with Studie für Improvisation 8 having sold in November 2012 for $23 million.
The surrealist highlight of the sale is Salvador Dalí’s (1904-1989) Moment de Transition, a haunted, dream-like landscape based on the desolate plains, jagged rocky outcrops, and immense sandy beaches of his Catalan homeland (illustrated left; estimate: $10-15 million). By 1934, the year that he painted Moment de Transition, Dalí was at the height of his powers as an artist, writer, and thinker, and his startlingly inventive talent was drawing attention and patronage in Paris, London, and New York. Moment de Transition depicts a covered, two-wheeled cart – the traditional Catalan tartana – that appears to be approaching the low-lying, white-washed buildings of a small town in the vast, flat Ampurdàn plain. This work is among Dalí’s earliest and most successful uses of the enigmatic device of the double image; the driver and passenger in the cart (which itself resembles a hollowed-out bone) can also be read as the silhouette of two towers in the distant village towards which they are traveling, while the wheels of the cart double as two stakes planted in the ground. The sense of visual instability engendered by the double image is accentuated by the eerie and unexpected appearance of the lone female figure to the left of center, who Dalí identified as his cousin Carolinetta Barnadas Férres, who had succumbed to tuberculosis when he was a teenager. The frail, consumptive Carolinetta appears on the vast, bleached expanse of sand in several of Dalí’s paintings from the beach of Rosas as well, always shrouded in flowing, wisp-like drapery.
George Braque’s (1882-1963) Le Modèle of 1939 is among one of the magnificent paintings of interiors Braque created during the late 1930s, which have since become widely renowned as the most complexly conceived and beautifully rendered compositions the artist had done since his cubist period a quarter century earlier (illustrated right; estimate: $8-10 million). The model is seated, enthroned against a luminous field of green, existing on an altogether more exalted plane. Braque has rendered her visage in a radically configured chiaroscuro, lit en face but also backlit as a silhouette in profile, with both views conjoined as one. Partly through his allusions to past masters, Braque suggests that this pictorial universe, while of the moment, also transcends the here and now, and betokens a more profoundly indefinite, timeless dimension, revealing the inner mythology and dynamics of the artist’s creative mind.
HE QUEST FOR EXCELLENCE:
ONE PRIVATE COLLECTOR’S PASSION
The Quest for Excellence: One Private Collector’s Passion features modernist works by Giacometti and Miró.
Alberto Giacometti’s (1901-1966) sculptures known as Femmes de Venise, a series comprising nine individual but closely related figures executed in plaster during 1956 and subsequently cast in bronze, are among the artist’s best-known works, and are widely regarded as having cemented his reputation and fame as the most important sculptor of the postwar era (illustrated left; estimate: $10-18 million). Femme de Venise IV was one of six versions of the subject exhibited at the 1956 Venice Biennale, while four others went to a concurrent retrospective at the Kunsthalle Bern. This sculpture possesses an intensely expressive tactile aspect; the figure is an irreducible topography of peaks, pits, crags and recesses, further emphasized by touches of paint applied throughout the patina. Considered the epitome of Giacometti’s career, Femme de Venise IV is a 20th century incarnation of a prehistoric fertility fetish; a bronze totem of female generative power.
Joan Miró’s (1893-1983) Le Serpent à coquelicots trainant sur un champ is among the first compositions that Miró completed upon his return from a momentous journey, his first trip to and an extended stay in America in 1947, which proved to be a creative catalyst for the artist (illustrated left; estimate: $12-18 million). Large in scale, this work is an extension of the approach to imagery and techniques Miró had developed with his celebrated Constellations series. Miró’s primordial signs proved to be the fundamental component in his work that so strongly appealed to a new generation of American painters, who were seeking an authentic and vital means to the creation of abstraction.
PRIVATE AMERICAN COLLECTION
Coming from a Private American Collection, Amedeo Modigliani’s (1884-1920) Jeune homme aux cheveux roux, painted in 1919, numbers among the most serenely balanced and exquisitely sensitive characterizations of Modigliani’s late career (illustrated right; estimate: $8-12 million). Immensely authoritative in its elegance and strict economy of palette, this sophisticated painting of a russet-haired young man – dated to 1919, just months before Modigliani fell victim to the ravages of tuberculosis and alcoholism – displays the consummate realization of the signature portrait style that the painter had developed during the previous three years, which represents his most powerful legacy to the history of art. The image is undeniably that of a specific individual, whom Modigliani also depicted in a second, bust-length portrait, housed today in the Guggenheim Museum. All the elements of the signature facial type that distinguishes Modigliani’s late portraits are evident: the elongated oval face, graceful swan-like neck, delicately spatulated nose, small pursed mouth, and impenetrable almond-shaped eyes, rendered here in the most piercing and vivid cerulean blue.
ROPERTY FROM AN ESTEEMED PRIVATE COLLECTION
Property from an Esteemed Private Collection includes Pablo Picasso’s (1881-1973) Femme nue couchée au collier, an intimate portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter (illustrated left; estimate: $8-12 million). Painted on 18 June 1932, the present work is part of the legendary pictorial arc that resulted from the time Picasso devoted to painting a series of masterpieces portraying his mistress. The rhapsodic sequence of paintings executed between March and August includes such celebrated works as Le rêve and Nude, Green Leaves and Bust.* Of all these outstanding portraits, Femme nue couchée au collier is among the most intimate. Marie-Thérèse is depicted while sleeping in front of a sweeping, multi-colored backdrop, in the passive state that would become her signature. A fluid and deeply personal work, the simple lines, impassioned brushwork, and fields of color translate the great tranquility of her sleep. Marie-Thérèse was not merely a model but a true inspiration and the portraits Picasso painted of her during the spring and early summer of 1932 are visual declarations of his love.
* Christie’s sold Le rêve in 1997 for $48,402,500 million and Nude, Green Leaves and Bust in 2010 for $106,482,500, which remains the world record for a work by Pablo Picasso at auction.