Sotheby's Paris contemporary art sales achieved a record annual total of €51 million in 2013. The Evening and Day sales on 3 & 4 December were integral to this success, as they brought a combined total that doubled the pre-sale low estimate with €24.5 million.
Joan Mitchell's monumental La Grande Vallée XIII proved to be the work in highest demand, soaring past the pre-sale estimate of €1.5-2 million to reach €3,569,500 - the highest price for a work of this series by Mitchell since 2008. This is one of the finest paintings from her landmark Grande Vallée series of 20 works produced between autumn 1983 and autumn 1984.
Sotheby’s is pleased to offer a high-quality selection of Post-War and international contemporary art works in our Evening auction on 3 December. Leading the sale is Joan Mitchell’s monumental oil-on-canvas painting, noted for its colourful intensity and lyrical vibrancy.
A very rare work featured in the sale is Simon Hantaï’s painting Mariale m.a.5, one of only eight works from this cycle, which marked the advent of a more creative, majestic, rather mysterious technique in Hantaï’s artistic approach in 1960.
Another work, painted in 1953 from the impressive memory of the ruins he saw during his Italian trip, Temple sicilien by Nicolas de Staël, may be considered a master work wherein the artist expertly fuses figuration and abstraction.
Complementing these milestone works is 01.12.64 by Zao Wou-Ki, a beautiful example of the prodigious transformation that occurred in the artist’s oeuvre during the late 1950s. With a discerning focus on pure line and coloured light, Zao Wou-Ki developed a more cohesive expression of his physical observations and inner emotions.
Other works from an Important Private European Collection include those by Serge Poliakoff and Peinture 3 février 1957, which is a large and powerful “standing” oil on canvas by Pierre Soulages. Considered a seminal piece in the artist’s overall body of work, this painting is profoundly dynamic for its striking visual opposition between the abstract foreground shapes and the seemingly empty background.
The Day sale offerings complement this diverse panorama of contemporary art with selections from the Second Ecole de Paris, including a work by Jean-Michel Atlan from the Greta Garbo Collection, and pieces from a younger generation of artists.