PRESS RELEASE: Christie's announces selections from the Israel Museum to benefit the acquisitions fund
New York - Christie’s 20th Century Art sales in November will feature a selection of Modern and Contemporary works of art from The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, sold to benefit the acquisitions fund. Over 100 works will be offered in live and online auctions at Christie’s across the week of November 9-16, 2018, including sculptures, paintings, and works on paper by Pablo Picasso, Jean Arp, Raoul Dufy, Georges Braque, Piet Mondrian, Henry Moore, and Victor Vasarely among others. All proceeds from the sales will be invested back in the Israel Museum’s Acquisitions Fund and will support strategic additions that will strengthen and enhance the diversity and scope of the institution’s collection of Modern Art.
The artworks have been carefully selected from four private collections that were generously donated to the Museum by patrons Arthur and Madeleine Chalette Lejwa, Charlotte Bergman, Vera and Arturo Schwarz, and Carl H. and Ruth L. Gans (details below) and have been cared for by the Museum over the years. After careful and diligent review of the Modern Art Collection, following a process that reflects international professional principles and best practices of proper collection management, the Museum identified two groups of artworks and entrusted them to Christie’s for sale in Paris and in New York. In June, the initial group of 60 Dada and Surrealist works sold at Christie’s Paris with the support and encouragement of Arturo Schwarz.
In his endorsement of the Museum’s fundraising plan for the Acquisitions Fund, Arturo Schwarz commented: “It is my greatest joy to see the continued growth of the collection. Realizing the Museum’s developing nature, I support its carefully implemented deaccession policy, yielding funds towards the purchase of new works in the spirit of my collection, and enabling the Museum’s Modern Art Department to refine its collection for the benefit of all.”
Highlights – Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale, November 11
Selections from the Arthur and Madeleine Chalette Lejwa Collection
Christie’s Evening Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art on November 11 will feature two mid-century Picasso works from the Lejwa Collection: Tête de femme, a post-war portrait of his muse Françoise Gilot (pictured page 1: estimate: $2.5-4.5 million) and Le Compotier, 1946, a still life of cherries distilled into spare geometric forms (pictured page 1; estimate: $1.4-1.8 million). The latter cheerily memorializes the couple’s first encounter in 1943, when Picasso approached Gilot at a Paris restaurant bearing a bowl of cherries. Tête de femme, painted on 26 May 1952, chronicles the denouement of their loving but tempestuous relationship. Posed with her hair in a tight chignon, Françoise is depicted with Picasso’s trademark fractured perspective, simultaneously turned away in profile and staring back out at the viewer.
During their lifetimes, the Lejwas were successful gallerists in New York who prided themselves on championing new artists, and became friends with many. Between 1954 and 1958, the Galerie Chalette presented Picasso, Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, Kazimir Malewich and Wassily Kandinsky, and championed the works of rising stars like Leon Polk Smith. They enjoyed close friendships with many artists, including Picasso and Jean Arp. Picasso’s serene sketch of Madeleine is in the collection of the Israel Museum, and numerous Arp sculptures from their vast collection were donated during their lifetimes, including Arp’s monumental stainless steel sculpture The Threshold of Jerusalem, a gift to the city.
A selection of Jean Arp sculptures and reliefs from the Lejwa Collection will be featured across the sale week. The Evening Sale features Déméter, a 3 foot tall curving biomorphic form in polished bronze that was conceived in 1961 and cast in 1970 (pictured above left; estimate: $800,000-1.2 million). It’s companion piece, the smaller La poupée de Déméter, which simplifies the form and evokes the Dada spirit of play, will be offered in the Day Sale (estimate: $120,000-180,000).
Highlights – Day Sales, Impressionist and Modern Art; Post-War and Contemporary Art, Nov 12 and 16
Selections from the Charlotte Bergman Collection
As a supporter of the Israel Museum, Charlotte Bergman played a significant role in its establishment alongside Teddy Kollek. With his encouragement, she built her modernist home on the grounds of the Museum and lived there for more than 3 decades, hosting concerts and lively discussions in the presence of her collection. Upon her death, she gifted the home and the art collection she lovingly assembled with her husband Louis to the Museum, where her legacy as a hostess, art lover, and dedicated philanthropist, lives on.
The selected artworks for sale affirm the great range of friendships the Bergmans enjoyed with numerous artists. Three paintings by Raoul Dufy reflect the Fauvist’s cheery preoccupation with seaside themes: Deauville, painted in 1924, (pictured right; estimate: $250,000-350,000) depicts an open-air pavilion on regatta day with colorful maritime flags fluttering overhead; Les Régates, painted in 1935, (estimate: $100,000-150,000) places the viewer amid the sailboats themselves, reducing their forms to flag-like bands of red, purple, blue, and green; and L’entrée du port de Sainte-Adresse, painted in 1950 (estimate: $60,000-80,000) evokes Dufy’s livelong long of the Normandy coast, where he spent his childhood. Similarly, Georges Braque’s La falaise d’Entretat, 1930, (estimate: $250,000-350,000) recalls the Normandy coast where the artist grew up, taking as its subject the same keyhole rock formation that preoccupied Claude Monet, nimbly rendered in muted hues of green, brown and gray.
The Bergmans also collected the work of British sculptor Henry Moore in depth, and the selection for sale presents an array of his small reclining figures cast in bronze and with varying patinas. Recumbent Figure (estimate: $200,000-300,000), conceived in 1938 and cast by 1958 is a maquette for his large stone carving of the same title and year which is now housed at the Tate Museum, London. The final sculpture was the artist’s first stone piece to incorporate negative space in the figure — a hole, as Moore called it — which became an ongoing and central tenet of his later work.
Selections from the Carl H. and Ruth L. Gans Collection
In 1980 Carl Heinz and Ruth Landsberger Gans inherited an intriguing group of early naturalist paintings by Piet Mondrian, many of which were acquired by Ruth’s mother, Hedwig Elli Landsberger-Stiasny (known as Elli). The collection was later gifted to the Israel Museum, from which five verdant landscapes painted between 1897 and 1907 have been selected for sale. Landzicht borderij mit witte lucht, (pictured left; estimate: $120,000-160,000) transforms a stand of trees at the water’s edge into a vivid study of negative space; Wilegenbos, Stammen Luenen naar Links II (estimate: $60,000-80,000) is a looser rendering of pollarded willows and shoots, likely painted en plein air. Taken together, the group illustrates the influences of Mondrian’s early studies of academic landscape and still-life painting, Dutch Impressionism and Symbolism. Years later, after Mondrian had turned to abstraction and the rigorous geometric forms for which he would become most well-known, the early landscapes of his homeland are recognized as the armature upon which his later work is based.
Additional contemporary art selections from the Lejwa Collection featured in the Day Sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art include a pair of large-scale abstract works by the Polish painter Wojciech Fangor, M 25 1970 (estimate: $150,000-200,000) and M 29 1970 (estimate: $80,000-120,000). Victor Vasarely, the widely-recognized leader of the Op-Art movement, is represented by two of his hallmark “checkerboard” paintings, including his stunning Hat-Meh, a 6-foot tall hexagonal work in vivid shades of blue, green and purple (estimate: $80,000-120,000).
Highlights – Online-Only Sale, November 9-15
Concurrent with the live auctions of Impressionist and Modern Art, bidders from around the world can support the Museum through a companion online-only sale of additional selections drawn from the Lejwa, Bergman and Schwarz collections, with all proceeds to benefit the Museum’s acquisition fund. The 59 lots that comprise the online sale include an array of sculptures, works on paper, paintings, reliefs, and woven tapestries, from well-established artists as well as lesser-known names.
Left to right: Michel Guino (1926-2013) Construction, welded bronze, circa 1960s, estimate: $800-1,200; Victor Vasarely (1906-1997) 2041-Deuton-GVBR, tempera on board laid down on panel, 1967, estimate: $6,000-8,000; Mario Negri (1916-1987) Relief (Piccola Metopa), bronze, executed circa 1965, estimate: $2,000-3,000.
Selections from the Vera and Arturo Schwarz Collection of Dada and Surrealist Art
Born in Alexandria, Arturo Schwarz made the acquaintance of the Egyptian Surrealists early in his career, and later thrived as a gallerist in Milan, specializing in Surrealist and contemporary Italian art. He forged many relationships with artists in the movement, including André Breton, Man Ray, and Marcel Duchamp, and eventually authored the catalogue raisonné of Duchamp’s oeuvre. Having gifted a complete set of Duchamp editioned readymades to the Israel Museum in 1972, in the 1990s he donated his vast collection of 800 works by more than 200 artists to the Museum, along with his library of periodicals, documents, and manuscripts, making the museum a primary destination for the study for two key 20th century movements.
The Schwarz Collection works featured in the Online sale at Christie’s continues the successful sale at Christie’s Paris, with a focus on Surrealist art. Highlights include 1960s-era paintings by Jean-Claude Silbermann and Ugo Sterpini, and early surrealist compositions by the French artist Aline Gagnaire.