Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Christie’s Evening Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art May 15

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Kazimir Malevich, Suprematist Composition, 1916, oil on canvas. © Christie’s Images Limited 2018. 
Kazimir Malevich’s Suprematist Composition, 1916, will lead Christie’s Evening Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art (estimate upon request). Suprematist Composition is among the groundbreaking abstract paintings executed by Malevich that would forever change the course of art history. The present canvas was last sold at auction in November 2008, when it established the world auction record for the artist, which it continues to hold today.* One decade later, Suprematist Composition is expected to set a new benchmark for the artist when it is offered at Christie’s New York on May 15.

Loic Gouzer, Co-Chairman, Post-War and Contemporary Art, remarked: “Malevich’s work provided a gateway for the evolution of Modernism. Malevich pushed the boundaries of painting to a point far beyond recognition, forever changing the advancement of art. Without the Suprematist Composition paintings, the art being made today would not exist as we now know it.”

Max Carter, Head of Department, Impressionist and Modern Art, New York, continued: “Malevich’s Suprematist abstractions didn’t break with the past so much as articulate the future. What an honor to offer Suprematist Composition, 1916 which has lost nothing of its revolutionary power in the century since it was painted, this spring.”

On 17th December 1915, the Russo-Polish artist Kazimir Malevich opened an exhibition of his new ‘Suprematist’ paintings in the Dobychina Art Bureau in the recently renamed city of Petrograd. These startling, purely geometric and completely abstract paintings were unlike anything Malevich, or any other modern painter, had ever done before. They were both a shock and a revelation to everyone who saw them. Malevich’s Suprematist pictures were the very first purely geometric abstract paintings in the history of modern art. They comprised solely of simple, colored forms that appeared to float and hover over plain white backgrounds. Nothing but clearly-organized, self-asserting painted surfaces of non-objective/non- representational form and color, these pictures were so radically new that they seemed to announce the end of painting and, even perhaps, of art itself.

Suprematist Composition
is one of the finest and most complex of these first, truly revolutionary abstract paintings. Comprised of numerous colored, geometric elements seeming to be dynamically caught in motion, it epitomizes what Malevich defined as his ‘supreme’ or ‘Suprematist’ vision of the world. The painting is not known to have been a part of the exhibition in the Dobychina Art Bureau but is believed to date from this same period of creative breakthrough and, if not included, was, presumably painted very soon after the show closed in January 1916.

It is clear, from the frequency with which Malevich later exhibited the picture, that he thought very highly of the painting. Malevich subsequently chose, for example, to include Suprematist Composition in every other major survey of his Suprematist pictures made during his lifetime. These exhibitions ranged from his first major retrospective in Moscow in 1919 to the great travelling retrospective showcasing much of his best work that he brought to the West in 1927. It was as a result of his last exhibition held in Berlin that Suprematist Composition came to form part of the extraordinarily influential group of Malevich’s paintings that remained in the West and represent so much of his creative legacy.

Hidden in Germany throughout much of the 1930’s, Suprematist Composition and the other works from this great Berlin exhibition, were ultimately to become part of the highly influential holdings of Malevich’s work in the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Until 2008, when it was restituted to the heirs of Malevich’s family in agreement with the Stedelijk museum, Suprematist Composition was on view in Amsterdam as part of the Stedelijk’s unrivalled collection of the artist’s work.


Property of an Important Collector. Fernand Léger (1881-1955), Le grand déjeuner, 1921. Estimate: $15,000,000-25,000,000. This work is offered in the Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale on 15 May at Christie’s in New York © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2018
The painting is the final of three preliminary versions Léger did of a masterwork, also called Three Women (Le grand déjeuner), that today ranks among the jewels of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. On 15 May, the work will be offered in the Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale  at Christie’s in New York
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  • Léger retained his modern aesthetic even as he drew from the art-historical canon
It is rare to sell one masterwork from the 1920s but this season we will be offering two, with the inclusion of Les trois femmes au bouquet  (1922), another classic depiction of women in a domestic interior, also offered on 15 May. Again, Léger chose to meld tradition with modernity.
Property from The Collection of Joan and Preston Robert Tisch. Fernand Léger (1881-1955), Les trois femmes au bouquet (1922). Estimate $12,000,000-18,000,000. This work is offered in the Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale on 15 May at Christie’s in New York © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2018
Property from The Collection of Joan and Preston Robert Tisch. Fernand Léger (1881-1955), Les trois femmes au bouquet (1922). Estimate: $12,000,000-18,000,000. This work is offered in the Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale on 15 May at Christie’s in New York © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2018
The grey trio look like they could have been fabricated out of steel and burnished chromium, yet they’re also clearly inspired by the Three Graces of Classical mythology, and here the interaction between the figures creates a dialogue and connection between the forms.
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  • The 1930s was both an experimental and an extremely productive decade for Léger
In 1931 Léger made the first of three trips to the United States, having been commissioned to decorate the New York apartment of Nelson Rockefeller. He returned in 1935 and 1938 to complete a similar project for Wallace K. Harrison’s Consolidated Edison Building at the 1939-40 World’s Fair.
In 1932 he resumed teaching at the Académie Moderne, a free school he had co-founded with Amédée Ozenfant in 1924. In 1935, just four years after his initial visit, he was given a major show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
The latter half of the decade saw the completion of the monumental mural paintings Adam and Eve  and Composition aux deux perroquets, a work he considered to be one of his most important. He also produced murals for expositions in Brussels and Paris, and set and costume designs for the Paris Opera.
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  • Fernand Léger was a painter with a definite social agenda
Léger’s murals of the late 1930s were inspired by his belief that modern art could be an agent of change, a means of communicating an optimistic vision of a forward-looking socialist society. In 1935 a coalition of leftist and centrist parties, organised labour and intellectuals formed the Front Populaire in France. Léger believed this represented the dawn of a new and potentially transformational social consciousness — precisely the opportunity that would allow him to bring modern art out of the studio and into the everyday sensibility of the public.
He spent the war in America, where he made a series of paintings inspired by the neon lights of New York. He returned to France December 1945 and, like Picasso, joined the French Communist Party. The optimism Léger felt at returning to his homeland was reflected in his painting — there is an easygoing vitality and an athletic physicality in the artist’s late works.
Léger believed that an essential part of peacetime reconstruction was to bring a sense of enjoyment to the lives of citizens from all walks of life, and, for him, the circus represented the public spectacle par excellence — a genuine art of the people. His final masterwork, La Grande parade, état définitif  (1954) capped a long line of circus scenes that he executed throughout his career.
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  • Art from two periods of his career is especially sought-after
Interest in Léger’s work is ‘very strong right now’, says Jessica Fertig, Senior Vice President for Impressionist and Modern Art at Christie’s in New York. Demand is particularly robust for pieces executed during two periods of his career: ‘Just before the First World War, and the work featuring female figures from the early 1920s.’
Last year, Christie’s broke a world record for the artist with an example of the former (Contraste de Formes). This May, we’re offering two very fine examples of the latter.
‘The works from before the War — both Cubist and those moving beyond Cubism — have always done well at auction,’ Fertig says. ‘What’s interesting is that the early 1920s pieces are now widely considered in the same rank.’
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  • Léger will be well-represented in exhibitions in 2018
Beyond the auction room, Léger’s unique style will be on view in a number of museum shows this year. In Brussels, a retrospective of his work is on display at BOZAR (until 3 June); a second retrospective will come to Tate Liverpool in November.

Fernand Leger (1881-1955)

Les trois femmes au bouquet

Previous sale  1999
Price realised
USD 4,402,500
USD 5,000,000 - USD 7,000,000
Fernand Leger (1881-1955)
Lger, F.
Les trois femmes au bouquet
signed and dated 'F.LEGER 22' (lower right); signed and dated again and titled 'Les trois Femmes au bouquet F.LEGER 22' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
25.5/8 x 36 in. (65.1 x 92.7 cm.)
Painted in 1922
Galerie Simon (D.-H. Kahnweiler), Paris (acquired directly from the artist).
Galerie Pierre Loeb (Galerie Pierre), Paris (1926).
Dr. G.F. Reber, Lausanne.
Galerie Rosengart, Lucerne.
Dr. Charles Bensinger, Chicago (1949).
William Beadleston, Inc., New York .
Donald Morris Gallery, Inc., Birmingham, Michigan. (acquired from the above).
Acquired from the above by the present owners on 7 December 1982.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Christie's ART OF THE AMERICAS, EVENING SALE Wednesday 9 May, 7pm

Wednesday 9 May, 7pm
Browse sale
View catalogue

Edward Hopper (1882-1967), Rich’s House, 1930.  Watercolour and charcoal on paper.  16 x 25 in (40.6 x 63.5 cm).  Estimate: $2,000,000-3,000,000.  This lot is offered in The Collection of David and Peggy Rockefeller: Art of the Americas, Evening Sale on 9 May at Christie’s in New York.
Edward Hopper (1882-1967), Rich’s House, 1930. Watercolour and charcoal on paper. 16 x 25 in (40.6 x 63.5 cm). Estimate: $2,000,000-3,000,000.
The Collection of David and Peggy Rockefeller: Art of the Americas, Evening Sale on 9 May at Christie’s in New York, a comprehensive survey of masterworks by the leading American artists of the 20th Century including Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Milton Avery, Thomas Hart Benton, John Singer Sargent and Winslow Homer, among others.

The sale features

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Diego Rivera’s 1931 masterpiece, The Rivals, which was commissioned by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller and was given to Peggy and David the year after.

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Willem de Kooning’s Untitled XIX from 1982(
USD 6,000,000 - USD 8,000,000)  Image result  and Gilbert Stuart’s George Washington (Vaughan type)
USD 800,000 - USD 1,200,000   are among the offerings.


Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale May 17

Francis Bacon, Study for Portrait, 1977, oil and dry transfer lettering on canvas
78 x 58⅛ in. (198.2 x 147.7 cm.). Estimate on Request. © Christie’s Images Limited 2018.
  Image result   Francis BaconTwo Studies for a Portrait of George Dyer (Sara Hildén Art Museum, Finland),         Francis Bacon’s Study for Portrait (1977, estimate on request) will star in Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction, which will take place on 17 May 2018. The powerful large-scale eulogy to his great muse and lover George Dyer was painted in Paris in 1977 and was last exhibited in London the same year at the Royal Academy of Arts in a group exhibition titled ‘British Painting: 1952-77’. A poignant celebration of his most important subject, Study for Portrait will be on view in London until 15 April, the first time it has been seen there since the show at the Royal Academy over 40 years ago. The work comes from the distinguished collection of Magnus Konow, who acquired it from Bacon through Marlborough Gallery shortly after its creation in 1977. This therefore represents the first time the work will be offered at auction. As a young man, based in Monaco, Konow built an impressive collection of works by School of London painters, and particularly admired Bacon, with whom he became friends during the 1970s. In 1983, Konow gifted a triptych of George Dyer, Three Studies for a Portrait (1973), to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, where it remains in the permanent collection. At the time that Bacon and Konow developed their friendship, Bacon was a regular visitor to Monaco from Paris, sometimes with Lucian Freud, staying with Konow for bouts of gambling in Monte Carlo.

With its majestic, near-sculptural figure seated against a screen of deep velvet black, in Study for Portrait, Bacon further developed elements from his 1968 masterpiece Two Studies for a Portrait of George Dyer (Sara Hildén Art Museum, Finland), as well as his landmark Triptych of 1976. The present work also extends the language of the dark, cinematic ‘black triptychs’ made in the aftermath of Dyer’s death in 1971. This tragic event, which took place less than thirty-six hours before the opening of Bacon’s career-defining retrospective at the Grand Palais, had a devastating impact upon the artist, prompting him to take a studio in Paris. By 1977, buoyed by the success of his major exhibition at Galerie Claude Bernard that year, his grief had given way to a period of newfound contentment, reflection and innovation. Backlit by streaks of red and green, and bracketed with raw linen, the central panel appears to hover before the viewer in three dimensions. Dry transfer lettering, inspired by Picasso’s Cubist collages, evokes the literary rubble of the artist’s studio floor, where John Deakin photographed Dyer seated in his underwear. If the black triptychs had replayed the harrowing details of his death, here Bacon weaves a fantasy of reincarnation. As bright red blood stains his shadow – evocative of the artist’s own silhouette – Dyer is momentarily restored to the flesh. 
  Francis Outred, Chairman & Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art EMERI, Christie’s: “Whilst Bacon would never fully come to terms with the death of his beloved George Dyer, the works produced in the wake of this tragedy remain some of the twentieth century’s most vivid interrogations of the human condition. Held in the same private collection since the year of its creation, Study for Portrait, 1977, extends the language of the landmark black triptychs into a glowing, visceral celebration of his most iconic muse. With its virtuosic play of texture, raw canvas and piercing colour, it demonstrates the innovative new directions that Bacon’s practice would take as he built a new life for himself in Paris. It is a privilege to be exhibiting this work once again in London for the first time in over forty years, close to its original unveiling at the Royal Academy in 1977.”

Magnus Konow: “Bacon would always talk about Dyer. I think that he was the only man he really loved in his life. I find this work is so powerful – for me it is probably one of the best paintings of their mystical love affair, and that’s what drew me to it.”

Widely exhibited internationally, the work represents the culmination of Bacon’s painterly language during one of the most significant periods of his practice. The work’s saturated colour fields and stark geometries border on abstraction. Bacon plays with different textures of black, offsetting the matte backdrop with the lustrous central panel. The pale lilac ground, rendered in thin pigmented layers, is juxtaposed with bright accents of blue, canary yellow and red. The billowing shadow, formally at odds with the figure, spreads across the surface like tar. Circular lenses, derived from a book on radiography, punctuate the figure as if attempting to bring his form more clearly into focus. The flesh itself is an ode to carnal pleasure, wrought with fluid, tactile brushstrokes, spectral veils of white and scumbled strains of colour around the eyes and mouth. It is Dyer in his prime, flickering like a projection or an x-ray, presiding over the composition with the tortured grandeur of Bacon’s former Popes. Raised upon a dais against a blank, clinical abyss, his quivering form speaks to the transient nature of the human condition.

Magnus Konow’s family roots are in Norway: his father was a celebrated Norwegian Olympic sailor, who competed in multiple Olympics between 1908 and 1948, winning two gold medals and one silver. His paternal grandmother, Dagny Konow, sat for Edvard Munch during the late 1880s.  

More on Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening Auction on 16 May 2018


Number 32, 1949 by Jackson Pollock will be featured in the Contemporary Art Evening Auction on 16 May 2018 in New York. The production of the artist’s drip paintings of 1948-9 stands as one of the most radical events in 20th-century art, in which the boundaries of painting were pushed and a new aesthetic established. Number 32, 1949 comes from a critical year for the artist and epitomizes the chaotic vibrancy, heroic drama and thrilling vigor that have come to define Pollock’s prodigious legacy.

Jackson Pollock executed his first drip painting in 1947.

Over the next two years he would hone this now instantly recognizable, signature technique, producing the monumental

 Autumn Rhythm (Number 30), Jackson Pollock (American, Cody, Wyoming 1912–1956 East Hampton, New York), Enamel on canvas

Autumn Rhythm (collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

Jackson Pollock. Number 1A, 1948.  1948. Oil and enamel paint on canvas,  68" x 8’8". The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase. © 2013 Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

and Number 1A, 1948 (collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York).

Number 32 is one of a small number of more intimate 1949 paintings in which the artist more fully explored the subtleties of the drip technique. It was featured in the second of two shows that year at Betty Parsons Gallery about which Robert M. Coates wrote in the New Yorker “They seem to me the best painting he has yet done.”

Exceptionally rare, Number 32 is one of a very limited group of 16 drip paintings Pollock created on paper mounted on Masonite or canvas in 1949 and one of only eight that feature the aluminum paint that creates a lustrous shimmer around his elaborate gestural movements. Boasting a fully painted surface with intricate layers of dripped and poured oil, enamel, and aluminum paint, the work has one of the most complete and richly covered surfaces of the entire series; indeed the last time a painting of this composition was offered at auction was in May 2013, when it set a record price of $58.4 million. It is further distinguished by a dense composition of black and silver splatters offset by bursts of brick red, bright orange, sunflower gold, and vibrant sea green that extend to the very edges of the paper.

Other examples from this limited group reside in prestigious collections including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York and The Munson-Williams Proctor Art Institute, Utica, New York.

Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale in New York on 14 May 2018

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Pablo Picasso, Le Repos, oil on canvas, 1932
Photo: © 2018 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Courtesy of Sotheby’s
The centerpiece of the Sotheby’s May 14 Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale in New York  will be Le Repos.

 Pablo Picasso’s “Femme au Béret et à la Robe Quadrillée (Marie-Thérèse Walter)” from 1937 was the prize piece in the Sotheby’s sale. 2018 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Sotheby's
Like Femme au Béret, this stunning masterwork from 1932—estimated to sell from $25–35 million—is a portrait of the Spaniard’s muse, Marie-Thérèse Walter, Picasso’s so-called “golden muse,” and according to Sotheby’s Simon Shaw, “arguably the love of his life.”

Also in the sale: 


Thomas Gainsborough: Experiments in Drawing

May 11 to August 19, 2018

Renowned for hisportraiture and depictions of rural landscapes, the eighteenth-century British artist Thomas Gainsborough (1727–1788) is best known as a painter. However, he was also a draftsman of rare ability who extended the traditional boundaries of drawing technique, inspiring an entire generation of British artists such as John Constable (1776–1837) and J. M. W. Turner (1775–1851). 

Beginning May 11, the Morgan Library & Museum presents an exhibition solely focused on Gainsborough’s works on paper, bringing together twenty-two outstanding examples in graphite, chalk,oil paint, and other media. Included in the show, which runs through August 19, are preparatory studies, finished works, and exercises made for the artist’s own enjoyment.

“As with many artists, Thomas Gainsborough used the medium of drawing to experiment and explore,” said Colin B. Bailey, director of the Morgan Library & Museum. “Famous in his day for his paintings of members of the British aristocracy and gentry, he eagerly turned to drawing as a respite from his portrait work. It allowed him the freedom to pursue his passion for rendering nature and scenes of country life utilizing new stylistic effects in color, line, and material. ”

The Career of a Portrait Painter

Thomas Gainsborough trained in London, where he displayed an innate talent for drawing and painting. The artist’s earliest figure drawing, 

A Boy with a Book and a Spade, 1748, The Morgan Library & Museum, III 59b. Photography by Steven H. Crossot, 2014.

A Boy with a Book and a Spade(1748), served as a study for the signboard of a village school. Minor commissions such as this were a primary source of income for a novice painter like Gainsborough as he tried to establish his career.  In Bath, where he moved in 1759, Gainsborough emerged as the era’s most fashionable and successful portraitist. There he became fascinated with the effects of light on fabric, often using black chalk to explore different tonal solutions. His renderings of sitters’ expressions and the rich texture of their clothing led to his reputation as the Anthony van Dyck of his time. Gainsborough would later create figure studies with models in different poses, using inventive techniques intended to capture the viewers’ eye in an instant.

In Lady Walking in a Garden (ca. 1785), the woman’s translucent silk dress is a technical tour de force: the artist superimposed fine veils of white and yellow chalk, applied both wet and dry, imitating the feathery brushstrokes that characterize his paintings.Despite his commercial success as a figure painter, later in life Gainsborough wanted to escape from what had become for him the routine of portraiture and business life. “I am sick of Portraits” he complained in a letter to a friend, “and I wish very much to. . . walk off to some sweet village where I can . . . enjoy the fag End of Life in quietness and ease.”   

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Study of a Woman Holding a Shawl, 1765–70, The Morgan Library & Museum, III 57. Photography by Steven H. Crossot, 2014.2 

Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788), Landscape with Horse and Cart, and Ruin, 18th century, oil paint , watercolor, lead white chalk, over black chalk; varnished, purchased by Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) in 1909. The Morgan Library & Museum. III, 55. Photography by Steven H. Crossot, 2014.
A Passion for Creating Landscapes 

Gainsborough would come to devote much of his time to creating landscapes of his own invention on paper. Laying out stones, branches, leaves, and soil of various colors on his worktable, he assembled and drew landscapes in his studio.

In his quest for original effects, the artist often looked to rugged terrain, contrasts of light and shade, and the nuances of shadow resulting from the changing seasons. He explored the rolling topography of natural settings and gothic, shadowy atmospheres in his early years. They offered him almost limitless compositional possibilities as he simultaneously conducted his technical experiments: for instance, he immersed his paper in milk and varnished it to give his landscape drawings a transparent tint.

In the mid-1770s, Gainsborough increasingly experimented with drawing by mixing different media and applying varnish to surfaces to produce landscapes that mimicked the visual effects of oil paintings. In the following decade, he would go on to produce variations of similar compositions drawn mainly in black and white chalk: serpentine, asymmetrical landscapes with moving skies, windswept trees, solitary animals, and scenes of agrarian life.

Gainsborough also embraced printmaking. By combining different etching techniques, he produced prints in imitation of his drawings, replicating on the surface of the copper plate the same variety of textural and tonal effects that characterize his chalk drawings. He turned to aquatint to evoke the transparency of the sky and water, as seen in

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Wooded Landscape with Cows beside a Pool (1755-1780), a rare print from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Toward the end of his career, he began favoring concepts rather than depicting a realistic view.

Thomas Gainsborough - Wooded Landscape with Figures

In Figures in a Wooded Landscape, (1785-88), trees, animals and rocks lose their shape, and parts of the landscape veer toward pure abstraction.

Gainsborough’s experiments subverted the academic conventions of drawing—by combining techniques and materials, he called into question the distinction between drawing and painting. His technical achievements became a paradigm for British art for the whole of the eighteenth century, and his later works in particular influenced the near abstract compositions of the next generation of British artists. Always in fierce pursuit of the “new” in drawing, Gainsborough lamented on his deathbed that he was “to leave life just as he was beginning to do something with his art.”


Thomas Gainsborough: Experiments in Drawing

The accompanying catalogue, Thomas Gainsborough: Experiments in Drawing, features full-page reproductions of seventeen works in the exhibition, a foreword by director Colin B. Bailey, and essays by Moore Curatorial Fellow Marco Simone Bolzoni and conservator Reba F. Snyder.
Author: Marco Simone Bolzoni; Publisher: Paul Holberton Publishing; 84 pages