Bernard Buffet (1928-1999)
Bernard Buffet (1928-1999)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Bernard Buffet (1928-1999)

La tour de Londres

Bernard Buffet (1928-1999)
La tour de Londres
signed and dated 'Bernard Buffet 60' (upper right)
oil on canvas
38 3/8 x 51 ¼ in. (97.3 x 130 cm.)
Painted in 1960
David et Garnier, Paris.
The Lefevre Gallery (Alex. Reid & Lefevre, Ltd.), London, where acquired, 21 April 1961.
The Daily Telegraph, 9 March 1961 (illustrated).
The Sphere, 18 March 1961 (illustrated).
Y. le Pichon & M. Garnier, Bernard Buffet, vol. I, 1943-1961, Paris, 1986, no. 441, p. 516 (illustrated p. 506).
London, The Lefevre Gallery (Alex. Reid & Lefevre, Ltd.), Paintings of London by Bernard Buffet, March 1961, no. 3 (illustrated p. 2).
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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Dido Penny

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Lot Essay

'No artist anywhere has ever been as popular in his lifetime as Buffet…his work was seen and recognized around the world. Today, we could compare him to Jeff Koons or Takashi Murakami, but neither has achieved Buffet’s universal popularity' (F. Hergott, quoted in N. Lankarani, 'Buffet: A Life of Success, Rejection and Now a Celebration', New York Times, 20 October 2016).

Starting his career in 1943 at the prodigious age of 16, Bernard Buffet enrolled at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux Arts in Paris. Then, following his first solo exhibition in 1947, one of his paintings was bought by the Musée National d'Art Moderne making him the youngest artist ever to have his work acquired by the French State. The distinctive style of Buffet's works gained him wide acclaim and from the early 1950s onwards, he became a regular and important presence in the Parisian and international art scene. Along with his artistic success came the dizzying heights of fame and a glamourous social circle consisting of Yves Saint Laurent, Françoise Sagan, Johnny Hallyday, Brigitte Bardot, and more.

His meteoric rise to fame was cemented in 1955 by the art review Connaissance des Arts, which declared him the greatest Post-War artist in France. In 1971, the French State awarded him the Légion d'Honneur, and only a few years later he was elected to join the Académie des Beaux-Arts. Despite having an incredibly charged relationship with critics, one that often left the artist’s reputation at the mercy of their whims, Buffet has succeeded in creating a legacy of being one of the most popular French painters in history. Even arguably the most well-known artist of our time, Andy Warhol, declared his admiration for Buffet: 'The French do really have one good painter, Buffet'.

Buffet’s cityscape subjects are all the more poignant in being painted after the destruction of so many major European cities during the Second World War. In this Post-War context, the artist’s strong calligraphic brushstrokes and dramatic black outlines seem to defy this previous violence and stand in direct disobedience of the gloomy grey atmosphere that surrounds them. Bernard Buffet’s oeuvre also contains compelling pictures of sites such as the Twin Towers, the Eiffel Tower, and the Doges Palace so it is no surprise he was also drawn to the historicism and integrity of the Tower of London. Within La Tour de Londres the artist has emphasized the sheer solidity and durability of the English landmark by contrasting it’s strength with the delicate branches of the spindly trees that surround it.

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