Huguette Caland (Lebanese, b. 1931)
signed and dated 'H. Caland 1973' (on the reverse)
acrylic on canvas
47¼ x 47¼in. (120 x 120cm.)
Painted in 1973
Galerie Janine Rubeiz, Beirut.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.

Brought to you by

Bibi Naz Zavieh
Bibi Naz Zavieh

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Lot Essay

Considered to be an avant-garde and outspoken character that has charmed the art world, Huguette Caland is arguably the most influential Lebanese Contemporary feminist artist. Born in 1931 in Beirut as the only daughter of the first President of the Republic of Lebanon Bechara El Khoury, she moved to Paris in 1970 and finally settled in Venice, California, where she currently resides. Although in her 80s, Caland continues to produce magical works on canvases, magnificent and beautifully detailed works that she fills with fine brushstrokes, inks and pens.

With a very rich oeuvre that transcends traditional notions of tackling feminist sensual subject matters, she gained fame for her pioneering brash and overtly sexual Bribes de Corps series of the late 1960s and 1970s, translated as Body Fragments which were inspired by Caland's sensitivity to her own body and femininity. Despite her father's position, Caland capitalised on her exposure to a period of cultural vitality in Lebanon. Her mastery was to evoke the complex idea of womanhood during these decades and its symbols by creating liberating pictures. She would represent the body in subtle semi- abstracted imagery where female forms became soft landscapes seducing the viewer with modernist renderings of tangled bodies as supple landscapes without beginning or end, her body parts and curves of flesh becoming the mountains and valleys.

Christie's is delighted to be offering a dazzling example from this series from 1973 that captures Caland's mastery of both form and colour. A lesson in simplicity, with a contrast of the rich reds against the deep and emerald-like greens, she uses colour, shape and line to depict the sensuality of the human body. Playful in its suggestive imagery, she championed the revolutionary artistry of the female sexuality, much like Louise Bourgeois, Dorothy Lannone and Georgia O'Keefe, zooming in on the familiar female form, using unexpected colours to make it slightly alien. The geography of the body extends beyond the canvas borders, it merges with a geography of the land leaving us in front of what seems like a landscape with elegant curved lines defining body parts. Upon closer inspection however, the simple lines evoke the sensual lines of female legs and breasts, captivating in its overt yet subtle sexuality.
Although Caland has become more well-known for her Tapestries, it is her older work, of which the present work is a strong example, that has captured the attention of many and has cemented her already established title as a major figure in the Contemporary Middle Eastern art scene. Recently exhibiting her early works at both Frieze Masters and Lombard Fried Gallery in New York in 2014, she is slated to have a retrospective show at a major international museum in 2016.


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