Friday, September 18, 2015

Sotheby’s November 5 2015 Evening Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art:Kazimir Malevich. Vincent van Gogh. Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, James Ensor

Sotheby’s November 5 2015 Evening Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art will feature one of the finest works by Kazimir Malevich remaining in private hands: 

Mystic Suprematism (Black Cross on Red Oval). 

The painting is the last of a renowned group of five canvases restituted to the artist’s heirs in 2008 to be offered for sale, and as such represents the final opportunity to acquire a seminal masterpiece by Malevich from this celebrated collection. Mystic Suprematism epitomizes the 20th century European avant-garde at its most revolutionary, and comes to auction this November with an estimate of $35/45 million. 

Simon Shaw, Co-Head of Sotheby’s Worldwide Impressionist &
Modern Art Department, said: Mystic Suprematism captures a moment when Malevich was at his most radical, iconoclastic and powerful. As the last canvas to come to auction bearing the exceptional provenance of the artist and his family, its sale will mark a major market moment this fall. Sotheby’s first offered a work from this illustrious group in 2008, when Suprematism, 18th Construction achieved a record $60 million. With so few outstanding Suprematist paintings remaining in private hands, we are honored to have been entrusted by the artist’s family once again and look forward to presenting Mystic Suprematism to collectors worldwide this fall.” 
Mystic Suprematism offers a searing presentation of Malevich's art at its most iconoclastic and theoretically complex. Painted in 1920–22 in the immediate aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the image embodies the 'new world order' promoted by the Suprematist movement – Malevich's radical artistic philosophy that had transformed Russian avant-garde art in the early-20th century. 

Five years following the publication of his Suprematist Manifesto in 1915, Malevich had fine-tuned his philosophies and perfected the artistic expression of his ideas, eliminating many of the colors, shapes and more painterly elements that dominated his earlier Suprematist compositions. His paintings at this stage were absolute in their dismissal of cultural, political or religious precedent. Mystic Suprematism epitomizes this shift in its most extreme form, with its irreverent black cruciform and oval of red paint set against an abyss of white. 

In 1927, Malevich accompanied the present painting along with more than 70 other works to the seminal exhibition Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung in Berlin. This was the first time the artist’s work was exhibited outside of Russia, and the show was pivotal in establishing his reputation as one of the most influential international artists of the 20th century. 

Following the exhibition, Malevich was obliged to return to the Soviet Union and arranged for the painting to be stored in Berlin, but he was unable to return to Germany as he was prevented from leaving the Soviet Union, where he died in 1935. Mystic Suprematism was later entrusted to the German architect Hugo Häring, who purportedly sold it to the Stedelijk Museum, where it was featured for over 50 years. Following a 17-year struggle, it was finally returned to the artist's heirs in 2008 after a historic settlement was reached with the City of Amsterdam.

Of the four other works that were restituted to Malevich’s family, two were sold by Sotheby's, one was sold privately to the Art Institute of Chicago, and one was sold to an anonymous collector. In the last 25 years, only four major works by Malevich have been sold at auction. 

Sotheby’s New York Evening Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art on 5 November 2015 will also feature an exquisite group of late- 19th and early-20th century masterworks assembled in the 1940s and ‘50s by Belgian collectors Louis and Evelyn Franck. 

The works are led by Vincent van Gogh’s Paysage sous un ciel mouvementé, a sweeping landscape view from Arles that is estimated to sell for $50/70 million. The collection also offers Pablo Picasso’s Nu au jambes croisées,  a large-scale, fully- worked pastel from his famed Blue Period  (estimate $8/12 million); superb examples by Paul Cézanne, Kees van Dongen and Henri de Toulouse- Lautrec; and the finest work by Belgian painter James Ensor ever to appear at auction. 

Born in 1907 in Belgium, Louis Franck was a passionate sailor, international banker and discriminating art collector, whose father was an important patron to Belgian artists including James Ensor. After marrying Evelyn Aeby, the couple moved to London in 1935, and it was during this time that they began to build their remarkable art collection. Louis and Evelyn went on to found the Old Broad Street Charity Trust and became major benefactors of the World Wildlife Fund, of which Louis served as Vice-President and Treasurer from 1976 to 1985. The Francks’ superb collection has been on public view at the Fondation Gianadda in Martigny, Switzerland since 1997. 

Painted in April of 1889 at the height of the artist’s famed Arles period, Vincent van Gogh’s Paysage sous un ciel mouvementé is a testament to the most successful period of his career (estimate $50/70 million). Painted just one year before Van Gogh’s death, the dramatic landscape depicts the fields outside Arles in the south of France, where he lived from early 1888 through mid-1889. Its palette evokes the colors found in this new Southern climate, yet the turbulent skies foretell Van Gogh’s mental decline in the months following the work’s execution. 

Since 2014, only three works from Van Gogh’s mature period (1888–1890) have appeared at auction – all at Sotheby’s.  

Nature morte, Vase aux marguerites et coquelicots from 1890 sold in November 2014 for $61.8 million (estimate $30/50 million) to an Asian private collector. 

In February of 2014, an impressive 11 bidders spanning North America, South America, Europe and Asia competed for L'homme est en mer from 1889 at Sotheby’s London, driving the final price to $27.5 million (estimate $9.8/13 million).  

L'Allée des Alyscamps from 1888 sold in May 2014 to an Asian private collector for $66.3 million, marking the highest auction price for Van Gogh since 1998 and an auction record for any landscape by the artist. 

Pablo Picasso’s pastel Nu au jambes croisées was created in 1903, at the apotheosis of the artist’s Blue period (estimate $8/12 million). The work represents this fragile aspect in the young artist’s life, when sex, melancholy and vulnerability took root and would ultimately shape every successive period of his art for nearly a century. Large-scale, fully-worked pastels from Picasso’s Blue period rarely appear at auction, and the Franck work embodies this critical moment in the artist’s oeuvre.

A unique feature of this collection is the group of three superb works by the great Belgian symbolist painter James Ensor. Louis Franck’s father, François, was a patron of Ensor’s and an important collector of the artist’s works. Louis inherited several of these great paintings, notably

Ensor’s masterwork Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem,

which Louis subsequently sold to the Getty Museum in 1981. Works by Ensor are tremendously rare at auction, and the three paintings on offer in the Evening Sale are truly exceptional examples from the artist’s finest period.

Les Toits d’Ostende (estimate $1.5/2 million),

 Le Jardin d’Amour (estimate $2/3 million),

 and particularly  Les Poissardes mélancoliques (estimate $3/5 million)

each demonstrate the artist’s irreverent disregard for convention and his unique vision

The collection offers two important paintings by Paul Cézanne. Fleurs dans un pot d'olives (estimate $5/7 million), painted in 1880-82, displays the artist’s ability to imbue a still-life with all of the subtlety and emotional potency of portraiture. Still-lifes from the artist’s mature period, such as the present work, are considered the harbingers of 20th-century Modernism, providing inspiration for the Cubists. 

Portrait de Victor Chocquet (estimate $2.5/3.5 million) belongs to a rare group of works depicting the artist’s most important patron: Victor Chocquet. Painted circa 1880-85, the present portrait is presumed to have been modeled after a photograph found in Cézanne's archives by his son, in which the sitter is wearing the same jacket and tie illustrated in the work.