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Constant (1920-2005)
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Constant (1920-2005)

Vrouw met hond

Details
Constant (1920-2005)
Vrouw met hond
signed and dated 'Constant 49' (lower centre)
oil and pencil on canvas
45.5 x 74 cm.
Painted in 1949
Provenance
Karel van Stuijvenberg, Caracas.
Literature
W. Stokvis, De taal van CoBrA, Amsterdam 2001, no. 49 (illustrated, unpaged).
Exhibited
Osaka, The National Museum of Art, Action et émotion. Peintures des années 50: Informel, Gutaï, CoBrA, 27 September-26 November 1985, cat.no. 10, p. 26 (illustrated, no. 15; illustrated on front cover), as: Une femme et un chien.
Amsterdam, Nieuwe Kerk, CoBrA 40 jaar later. De collectie van J. Karel P. van Stuijvenberg, 9 November-31 December 1988 (illustrated, p. 111).
Liège, Musée d'Art Moderne, CoBrA revisité, 9 April-31 May 1993 (illustrated, p. 102).
Valdivia, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, 1994.
Neuenhaus, Kunstverein Grafschaft Bentheim, CoBrA (1948-51). Eine Bewegung in Europa. Arbeiten aus der Sammlung J. Karel P. van Stuivenberg, 5 February-31 March 1995 (illustrated on the cover; illustrated, p. 45).
Taipei, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, The CoBrA movement - 50 Years, 19 June-22 August 1999. This exhibition later travelled to Kaohsiung, Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, 4 September-19 December 1999 (illustrtaed, no. 4, p. 111).
São Paolo, Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paolo, Grupo CoBrA, 17 July-10 September 2000, as: Mulher com cão.
Amstelveen, CoBrA Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Het kind in CoBrA, 28 October 2000-28 January 2001 (illustrated, p. 36).
Reykjavik, Listasafn Íslands, CoBrA Reykjavík, 10 May-8 July 2007 (illustrated, p. 109). This exhibition later travelled to Trondheim, Trondheim Kunstmuseum, 27 January-30 March 2008.
Special Notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Lisa Snijders
Lisa Snijders

Lot Essay

As an experimental painter Constant was constantly looking for free images, which were expressive and meaningful in a new way. The manifesto he formulated in 1948 when founding the Nederlandse Experimentele Groep states: 'A painting is not a structure of colours and lines, but an animal, a night, a cry, a man, or all of these together (...) The problematic period in the development of modern art has come to an end and will be followed by an experimental period.' In the same manifesto, but also in later publications, Constant rendered the opinion that the child could express itself freely, because it was not yet included in social life. As soon as this would happen when becoming an adult, it would lose the ability of expressing in an unprejudiced way. According to Constant the "unfreedom" of the present society would suppress the creativity. Each individual will keep some kind of creative potential though, which can only develop when the artist stays outside of the ordinary social interaction and maintains an unusual freedom of action.
Inspired by the Danish interest in myths and mythical creatures, animals became a typical subject of CoBrA. Fish, birds, dogs and fantasy figures populate the paintings of all CoBrA artists, also deriving from the children's drawings seen at an exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in 1948.
Constant's early CoBrA work is full of animals. In the artist's sentimental and imaginary wildlife, it is clear that the dog is prominently present, just like in his own life. Constant would later share his days with Tikus, a dog of of hardly distinguishable race, who was succeeded by Waldo, a vivid and intelligent dog, whose death much saddened the artist.
In the paintings of 1948 and 1949 the dog is often combined with a young girl or with a woman, possibly associated with love. In Chien from 1948 (now in the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague) the dog is like from an infernal world though, related to death. Also in later watercolours the dog would be a returning subject. Not only dogs, but also the cow, the cat and the horse are present. 'The sympathy for the animal world is not so common in the art of the 20th century, more concerned with objects or humans', Jean-Clarence Lambert states. 'There are animals we like and those that cause us nightmares. They are simply our life companions, they almost equal our flesh and blood, our acquaintances'. (J-C. Lambert, Constant. Les trois espaces, Paris 1992, p. 44)
Constant's paintings from 1948 and 1949 have the typical CoBrA language. They show a fluid hand writing with fierce and confident images with enormous sensitivity for details. When the friendship with Jorn cools down in 1949 the ties with CoBrA loosen. Constant becomes aware of the social insufficiency of the imagery of plants, animals and mythical creatures and would start looking for new images. The present lot can be seen as a precursor of this new phase. It indicates an emerging need to call for battle in a more recognizable and realistic way. (J.L. Locher, schilderijen 1940-1980, exh.cat. Haags Gemeentemuseum 1980, p. 11).

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