VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium
In business and in person, Yoav Harlap is a charismatic man, and this charisma is also reflected in the energy with which he has assembled his formidable collection of Post-War art. Seeing these works within the crisp modernist architectural setting of his home, it is clear that this is a wide-ranging collection-- from Warhol and Wesselmann to Klein and Arman, from Fontana and Manzoni to Rotella and Basquiat. And yet, within the context of Harlap's home, it becomes clear that there is a strange cohesion to this grouping of works. They mix the urban with the sublime and most importantly the Nouveau Réaliste with Pop. And crucially, they are never afraid to be humorous.
Long a believer in art and in its power both to improve a living space and the people within that space, Harlap-- a highly successful car importer-- decided in 1990 to begin to collect in an increasingly serious manner that has provided him with an intense learning curve. The evolution of the collection is therefore a reflection of the evolution of the collector himself. When he decided that he wanted to purchase art in a serious way in 1990, he began by going to Art Basel. Slowly, and in market conditions that were becoming increasingly favourable for the few buyers around, Harlap began to hone his eye and taste and to spend larger amounts on art. Initially, this was done on a case to case basis, seeing what came across his path. Within a matter of months, he came to the realisation that his collection should have a core and a focus, and much of this was provided through Pierre Restany. Harlap, who cherishes his privacy, did not engage in direct contact with Restany, but the guru of Nouveau Réalisme had conveyed such enthusiasm to a mutual friend that the collector began to focus on the artists associated with that movement. Klein, César, Arman and the Affichistes came to provide the backbone of the collection. Restany, who wrote an essay about the collection some years later, even voiced his happiness that these works had found such a good home, not least because he had been concerned about the fate of the surviving Nouveau Réalistes and the reputations of those sadly already departed.
Rather than restrict himself to Nouveau Réalisme, Harlap instead created a collection that explores the relationship between that movement and Pop. It is no coincidence that what would become Pop Art had early been dubbed 'New Realism'. These movements both had their genesis in the same period, although circumstances in the United States and circumstances in Europe lent the works of the artists associated with these groups distinct flavours. However, both shared a manner of taking the world and re-presenting it in a new context-- these are the arts of appropriation. The material backdrop to the world of the average person became a source of inspiration and likewise often of the fabric of the works themselves. Warhol took his flowers, his dollar sign; Rotella and the Affichistes took their posters; Arman and César took the items from everyday life. And then all these artists placed these signs and images and objects in a new and celebratory context that allows us to look not only at the picture but also at the world around us with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective.
As the photographs of his home show, Harlap has explored the relationship between these movements often through the physical juxtaposition of the works, a technique that sometimes reveals surprising links and affinities. It is intriguing to see works such as the Oldenburg cigarette and the Arman violin playing off each other. From either side of the Atlantic, objects have been reassessed and reinvented, their form and existence and appearance thrown into question through processes that are at once completely different yet share a unified interest in the distortion of the information that we take for granted in the world (about cigarettes, about violins etc). In this way, they come also to distort and improve our understanding.
There is a subtle visual poetry to many of the juxtapositions in the presentation of the works in Harlap's home, be it in the wispy spiralling cigarette smoke in Wesselmann's Study for Small Smoker #4 and the curving paint in Claes Oldenburg's sculpture Tube Supported by its Contents. Likewise, Wesselmann's Great American Nude #88 finds itself echoed in a teasing and humorous manner by Mel Ramos' Peek-a-boo, Raven #2-- it is an additional reflection of the changing tastes of the evolution of collection and collector that both of these works were purchased during Harlap's bachelor years! Yet these personal connections with the works recur in other cases too-- the seascape background of the Wesselmann recalls the colours of the Mediterranean view near Harlap's home, while the Rotella features a poster for the 1960 movie Exodus, starring Paul Newman and concerning the turbulent foundation of the state of Israel.
It is a tribute to the quality of the collection that Harlap has assembled that Restany himself waxed so lyrical about it. As a documentary exploration of the history of Nouveau Réalisme and its spiritual cousins, it is formidable; in terms of other Tel Aviv collections, it is essentially unique. Each of these works, and indeed each of the works in all the genres, has been selected because it is of exceptionally high quality-- it is the quintessence. Be it the Wesselmann, the Fontana, the Warhol, the Rotella, these are the iconic and seminal images from each of the artists. In addition, several of them have also formed parts of famous collections such as those belonging to the Chester Beatty family and Otto Hahn while several of the Affichiste works were owned by their fellow artist Jean-Pierre Raynaud.
Harlap's interest in art has extended to the artists themselves, and he counts among his greatest memories his encounters with James Rosenquist, Mimmo Rotella, Niki de Saint-Phalle and others. Similarly, when he wished to add a good Basquiat to his collection, he found himself at one point invited to the home of the artist's first dealer, Annina Nosei. Although the visit did not culminate in a purchase, he considers it an honour to have seen works of such a high quality on the walls of a person who was a part of the life and history of Basquiat himself. Harlap has also travelled extensively to museums throughout the world, often meeting with curators, ever eager to expand his knowledge. Thus not only has the collector put his stamp on the collection but also, directly and indirectly, the reverse can also be seen to be true, showing that his belief in art was by no means misplaced.