Monday, October 19, 2015

Christie's - November :Amedeo Modigliani, Roy Lichtenstein, Norman Rockwell

On November 9, 2015 Christie’s will offer

Amedeo Modigliani’s masterpiece Nu couché (Reclining Nude) on Monday, November 9 in New York. The painting, executed in 1917-18, will be the centerpiece of a special curated Evening Sale of 20th Century art focused on the theme of “The Artist’s Muse”.

The painting is one of a series of great female nudes made for Léopold Zborowski that famously caused a scandal nearly a century ago when they were exhibited at Modigliani’s first and only one-man show at the Galerie Berthe Weill in Paris.  Outraged by the content of this show — which caused a crowd to form outside the gallery window where one of Modigliani’s nudes was openly on display — the police demanded the immediate closure of the exhibition.

The upcoming sale this November marks the first time this portrait is appearing at auction. Estimated to exceed $100 million, the portrait is poised to break the standing world auction record of $70.7 million for any work by Modigliani, one of the greatest artists of the 20th century.

Jussi Pylkkänen, Christie’s Global President and Chief Auctioneer comments, “This is quite simply one of the most important paintings I have handled in my long career at Christie’s. There are a very small number of masterpieces that we dream of handling: this magnificent Modigliani has always been one of them. This powerful and noble female nude is a work of timeless beauty and one of the greatest works by the artist. It is a particular honour to be entrusted with the sale of this painting as my own area of expertise has always been the early 20th Century avant-garde, the paintings that shook the foundations of convention.”  Mariolina Bassetti, Christie’s Chairman and International Director, Italy, added, “This is the painting that defines Modigliani”.

Originally in the collection of Modigliani’s mentor, friend, and dealer, Léopold Zborowski, Nu couché (Reclining Nude) has been so widely and frequently published and referred to over the past century that it has become one of the most recognized images of early 20th century painting and certainly represents one of Modigliani’s best known works. It was also previously in the celebrated collection of the late Gianni Mattioli, one of the greatest champions of Italian early 20th Century Modernism, who organized a global tour of his superb Italian Art collection in the 1960s. In the 1950s, this work toured to the Museum of Modern Art in New York where it took pride of place on the cover of the exhibition catalogue.

The painting has also been featured in major museum shows across the globe, including the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris, the Tate Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Palazzo Reale in Milan.

Nurse, an extraordinary, seminal, museum-quality work by Roy Lichtenstein unseen on the market for 20 years, will also be included in the 20th century curated sale, The Artist’s Muse, which presents a constellation of works and subjects that have inspired artists in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.

This spectacular work is the most iconic of Lichtenstein’s series of his legendary Pop portraits of women appropriated from romance comic books of the early 1960s and has been included in Lichtenstein's first retrospective exhibitions at the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin in 1968 and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1969 which brought him international acclaim and established Lichtenstein as one of the most important figures of the Pop Art. Nurse comes with distinguished provenances, from the most historic and significant collections of Pop Art: Leon Kraushar, New York, then to the comprehensive and influential collection of Karl Stroher, Germany and finally the collection of Peter Brant, before being acquired in 1995 by the present owner. This painting is widely regarded not only as an icon of the artist’s career, but also of Pop Art. Estimated in the region of $80 million, this masterpiece is poised to break the world auction record for the artist of $56 million, achieved at Christie’s New York in May 2013 for Woman with Flowered Hat, 1963.

Included in the above sale, or one of the following sales the same week:

Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale, Tuesday November 10
Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale, Thursday November 12

Roy Lichtenstein's Crying Girl is a paragon of American ideals, she transcends the notion of the cliché, becoming an eternal icon. Lichtenstein’s Girls constitute a significant body of work from the most prolific period of the artist's career, acquired by the Fitermans from Leo Castelli, this work is estimated at $7,000,000 to $9,000,000.

In Mirror #9, executed in 1972, Lichtenstein’s characteristic Ben-Day dot system replaces our own reflection, suggesting a witty commentary on the role of the artist, while addressing issues of vision and perception (estimate: $2,500,000-3,500,000).

Claes Oldenburg’s Clothespin Ten Foot (estimate: $1,200,000-1,800,000) is one of the artist’s monumental replicas of everyday objects, famous for having been part of public commissions whose giant companion is part of the Philadelphia scenery. This slender sculpture has been compared to the "embracing couple" in Constantin Brâncuși's sculpture The Kiss.

Joan Miró’s sculptures were the crowning achievement of his late career, Jeune fille s’évadant (estimate: $4,000,000-6,000,000) ranks among the most ambitious and successful of the painted bronzes Miró created from found objects in his fertile later years, the second one, Personnage, appears as a potent but whimsical Neolithic god (estimate: $4,000,000-6,000,000).

American Art Auction on November 19

The top lot of the American Art auction on November 19, will be

Norman Rockwell Visits a Country Editor, estimated at $10-15 million. This major, large-scale work belongs to an important series of works Norman Rockwell completed for The Saturday Evening Post at the height of his career in 1946. The painting is being sold by the National Press Club Journalism Institute, with the approval of the National Press Club, and the proceeds from the sale will benefit both nonprofit organizations.

Norman Rockwell Visits a Country Editor appeared in the Saturday Evening Post on May 25, 1946. It was subsequently gifted to the National Press Club, an occasion later commemorated when Rockwell spoke at the Club on July 25, 1967. For the better part of the past seventeen years, the National Press Club Journalism Institute has kept the painting on public display in the space that it shares with the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The work has also been loaned often and generously as part of the Club's stewardship, and most recently was on long-term loan to a museum.

Norman Rockwell Visits a Country Editor depicts a scene at the Monroe County Appeal, a small town newspaper founded in 1867 and located in Paris, Missouri. The painting is among Rockwell’s series of pictorial reports capturing the artist visiting various places, including a country school, the doctor, and the country editor. A highly complex composition, the work depicts nine characters, each uniquely articulated with Rockwell’s signature charm, bustling in the offices of the newspaper.  The paper’s editor, Jack Blanton, is seated at the typewriter and at the far right of the composition Rockwell is seen striding through the door with his portfolio firmly wedged under his arm.

“This painting of a small-town America newsroom in the 20th Century will sustain the National Press Club and National Press Club Journalism Institute in our missions to support journalism for many more decades in the 21st Century,” said National Press Club President John Hughes, an editor for Bloomberg’s First Word. “The needs in the news profession are immense – from training those who have lost jobs to fighting for a free press worldwide. The sale of this great American artwork will help expand efforts to meet these needs at a critical time for our industry. What a great legacy for Norman Rockwell.”

“We are proud to offer this iconic work of art to the art market for consideration,” said Barbara Cochran, Chair of the Board of Directors of the painting’s owner, the National Press Club Journalism Institute, and the Curtis B. Hurley Chair in Public Affairs Journalism, University of Missouri School of Journalism. “At a time in which the noble tradition of community-based journalism is being challenged by societal and technological transformation, Norman Rockwell’s charming and realistic portrayal of a country editor and team of journalists diligently working to share news of the day with their community readers, epitomizes the attributes of American journalism and its contribution to the life of our nation.”  Cochran added that proceeds of the sale will be used to support Institute programs to uphold press freedom, develop the skills of professional journalists and communicators, and provide scholarships for future journalists.

“By 1946, not only had Rockwell’s myriad covers of the Post captured the imagination of the nation, but the artist himself was becoming a celebrity in his own right,” comments Elizabeth Beaman, Christie’s Head of American Art. “Perhaps just as importantly, Rockwell’s work adopted a new sense of earnestness in order to more accurately reflect the realities that many faced in post-War America. While Rockwell’s classic sense of idealism remained intact, his imaginative images confronting issues of the present allowed the public to identify with his interpretation of life in America.”