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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE BRITISH COLLECTION


signed and indistinctly dated 'Oscar DOMÍNGUEZ 37' (lower right); signed, dated and inscribed 'Oscar DOMÍNGUEZ 83 Bd. Montparnasse "MADAMME" 1937' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
24 x 19 ¾ in. (61 x 50.1 cm.)
Painted in 1937
Private collection, Barcelona.
Galerie Cazeau de la Béraudière, Paris.
Private collection, Belgium, by whom acquired from the above in September 2006; sale, Christie's, London, 4 February 2015, lot 112.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
N. Palenzuela, 'Paisajes del deseo', in Oscar Domínguez: Antológica, 1926-1957, exh. cat., Centro Atlántico de Arte Moderno, Las Palmas, 1996, p. 52 (illustrated).
I. Hernández, 'Crisálidas que viajan a través de los tiempos', in Cosmos. En busca de los orígenes. De Kupka a Kubrick, exh. cat., Tenerife Espacio de las Artes, Tenerife, 2008, p. 253 (illustrated).
I. Hernández, Óscar Domínguez: Fuego de estrellas, exh. cat., Fundación Picasso, Málaga, 2009, p. 19 (illustrated).
F. Castro Morales, 'Óscar Domínguez: surrealismo y paisaje nativo en Gaceta de arte', in El Surrealismo y sus derivas, Madrid, 2013, p. 343 (illustrated).
J.C. Guerra, Óscar Domínguez: obra, contexto y tragedia, Tenerife, 2020, p. 40 (illustrated).
Paris, Galerie des Beaux-Arts, 1er Exposition inteRnatiOnale du Surréalisme (EROS), January - February 1938, p. 4 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Amsterdam, Galerie Robert, Spring 1938.
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.
Further details
The Asociación in Defensa de la Obra de Óscar Domínguez has confirmed the authenticity of the work.

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Olivier Camu
Olivier Camu Deputy Chairman, Senior International Director

Lot Essay

In 1933, the Spanish writer Domingo López Torres heralded the arrival of an exciting new artistic talent in Spain, whose bold compositions had recently appeared in the annual exhibition of the Círculo de Bellas Artes de Tenerife: ‘Through the murky waters of the psyche, navigating between high sexual complexes – the door ajar to Freudian theory – comes Óscar Domínguez, a young painter, surrealist and one of the most promising stars of this island. […] In these paintings he achieves unexpected tonalities and transparencies. From the darkest corners the most audacious forms are prodigiously assembled. Secular forms deformed by an exuberant fantasy. Elongated figures; shadowy forms. The paintings of Óscar Domínguez […] – more restrained than those of Dalí – are silent, cold, like a blade in the chest of the viewer’ (quoted in Óscar Domínguez Antológica 1926-1957, exh. cat., p. 275).

Painted just four years later, Madamme illustrates the unique creative drive of Óscar Domínguez’s art at the height of his involvement with the Surrealist movement, showcasing the unique blend of association, dreams, and mysterious imagery that characterised his work. Though he had been living in Paris for several years and working in a Surrealist vein since 1929, it was not until 1934 that Domínguez became personally acquainted with André Breton and the circle of artists, poets and writers that surrounded him. Attracted to the inventiveness of Domínguez’s enigmatic imagery, infused with memories, colours and forms from his native Tenerife, the Surrealists quickly embraced the young Spaniard, incorporating several of his works in their earliest exhibitions abroad. He rapidly became a key player in the movement, one of an important new generation of artists that Breton believed would help to revitalise Surrealism at a time when it was in danger of losing momentum.

Nicknamed ‘le Dragonnier des Canaries’ by his new acquaintances, Domínguez cut a powerful figure within the group, not least following his development of the automatic painting technique known as decalcomania, in which a thin layer of paint was spread on to the surface of a sheet of paper, while another sheet was laid on top and pressed against the fluid pigment to create an irregular pattern and texture that evolved without the intervention of the artist. Domínguez’s Surrealist colleagues quickly embraced the process, which they believed transferred the basic principles of automatic writing into the painterly process, introducing the random and the unconscious into their compositions. Domínguez in turn, threw himself into the movement, engaging enthusiastically in their discussions and debates, even going so far as to organise an exhibition of Surrealist pictures in his native land of Tenerife.

In Madamme, two amorphous female characters intertwine in a mysterious dance, their elegant, statuesque bodies appearing at once solid and liquid, stationary and flowing, blending into one another as they embrace. Using the rippling swathes of fabric to emphasise the fluid materiality of their forms, Domínguez allows the deep blue colours of the woman on the left to bleed into the folds of white drapery that wrap around the other figure’s waist, creating the impression that they are in the process of physically merging together. Visually, these two central figures echo the artist’s designs for one of the female mannequins included in the 1938 Exposition inteRnatiOnale du Surréalisme (EROS), at the Galérie Beaux-Arts in Paris, where a series of dummies were provocatively designed and dressed as erotic objects by different artists within the group. In Domínguez’s version, the mannequin remains nude, save for a strange metal headdress, a row of ringed bangles or tightly wound rope along the length of one arm, and a stream of sheer fabric that springs from a siphon standing alongside her, its diaphanous qualities offering little assistance in covering her modesty.

In Madamme, the viscous, in-between nature of the women’s forms is made all the stranger by the manner in which the white figure appears to be pinned to the landscape, small black nails anchoring her to the rocky surroundings, one even drawing blood as its sharp end punctures her body. A cloud in the sky above is similarly pinned in place, suggesting that different parts of the composition are in danger of dissolving before our eyes, rapidly slipping away to another realm. The surrounding landscape, in contrast, appears solid and monumental, its stratified rock formations, clusters of cacti and open, rolling ocean recalling the unique geography of the artist’s homeland of Tenerife, an island shaped by the daily poundings of the Atlantic Ocean. While the dream-like quality of the composition, and in particular the fluid bodies of the female characters, suggests the influence of Salvador Dalí’s work on the artist, it is in the shifting sense of materiality and space that Madamme captures Domínguez’s train of thought at this time, as he began to explore a new path that would lead to the development of his cosmic landscapes the following year.

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