AVIGDOR ARIKHA (1929-2010)
AVIGDOR ARIKHA (1929-2010)
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AVIGDOR ARIKHA (1929-2010)

Botte d’asperges (Wrapped Asparagus)

AVIGDOR ARIKHA (1929-2010)
Botte d’asperges (Wrapped Asparagus)
signed and dated 'ARIKHA 74' (lower right); dated '26.IV.74' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
7 ½ x 13in. (19 x 33cm.)
Painted in 1974
The Artist.
Thence by descent to the present owner.
S. Beckett, et al., Arikha, Paris 1985, p. 222, no. 35 (illustrated in colour, p. 47, titled 'Asperges').
J. Clair, Le Livre des Amis, Paris 2024, p. 26.
New York, Marlborough Gallery, Avigdor Arikha: Paintings and Watercolors 1973-1975, 1975, p. 6, no. 13.
Paris, Centre national d'art contemporain, Nouvelle subjectivité, 1976, p. 8, no. 5.
Zurich, Marlborough Galerie, Avigdor Arikha: Ölbilder, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, 1977, p. 5, no. 7.
Washington, D. C., The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Avigdor Arikha: Twenty-two Paintings 1974-1978, 1979, no. 3 (illustrated, unpaged).
Dijon, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Arikha, 1981, p. 10, no. 2 (illustrated in colour on the front cover).
Tel Aviv, Ayala Zachs Abramov Pavilion for Israel Art, Israel Museum, Avigdor Arikha: Selected Paintings 1953-1997, 1998-1999, no. 7 (illustrated in colour, p. 34). This exhibition later travelled to Edinburgh, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.
Athens, Benaki Museum, Avigdor Arikha. A Breadth, 2019, no. 13 (illustrated in colour, unpaged).

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Anna Touzin
Anna Touzin Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Botte d’asperges (Wrapped Asparagus) (1974) exemplifies the atemporal and art-historical qualities that defined Avigdor Arikha’s mature oeuvre. A favourite work of Arikha’s and one which he ‘always guarded’ throughout his life, it was acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 1974. The structure and motif were inspired by Édouard Manet’s painting of the same subject dating from 1880. Commissioned by the collector Charles Ephrussi, Manet depicted his bundle of white spears—a delicacy in France that heralds spring—atop a bed of green leaves. In Arikha’s reimagining, the vegetable is wrapped in the blue paper found at France’s daily markets. Each scaled spear of asparagus and every crumple of paper have been exquisitely rendered. Delicate touches of magenta, green and ochre colour the protruding tips. The blue wrapper, punctuated by bands of yellow twine, forms an intricate, faceted scape of light and shadow. The poise of the whole reveals the artist’s faculty for geometric purity. The art historian Jean Clair called Botte d’asperges a ‘marvellous’ painting (J. Clair, ‘Hommage’ in ‘Hommage à Avigdor Arikha (1929-2010)’, Nouvelles de l’estampe, no. 232, 2010, p. 2). It has been widely exhibited during its lifetime, including in Arikha’s 1979 show at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; his 1981 exhibition at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon, for whose catalogue it was the cover image; his 1999 touring exhibition which began at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; and his landmark 2019 retrospective at the Benaki Museum, Athens.

For a spell following his studies at the Bezalel Academy, Jerusalem, and the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Arikha considered himself an abstract artist. It took an encounter with Caravaggio’s Raising of Lazarus (circa 1609) at the Louvre to cause him to radically reconceive his idiom. Arikha at first turned to black-and-white figurative drawings, before reintroducing colour into his practice in 1973. He never entirely abandoned his initial devotion to ‘disegno’, and as suggested by both the subject of Botte d’asperges and his commitment to its geometry, Arikha was a student of art history, interested in compositions by Nicolas Poussin, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, and, of course, Manet. Like his Modernist predecessor, Arikha worked from direct observation in an effort to remain truthful to his motif. He painted swiftly in natural lighting, seeking only to capture the reality or atmosphere of a particular moment, and in doing so, notes curator Marie-Cécile Miessner, ‘managed to reveal a truth’ (ibid., p. 1).

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