“T he Art of Life” presents a diverse collection assembled by a distinguished Asian private collector and patron of the arts. Driven by the belief in the transformative power of art to affect positive change, the Collector has spearheaded efforts and made innumerable contributions within the local art scene in Asia. One of the most prominent patrons of art and culture in the region, the Collector’s broad vision, dedicated efforts and selfless generosity have resulted in significant impact and achievements on the development of the art ecology in Asia, including contributions toward the growth of local art institutions, art education programs and the support of established artists as well as emerging local talents.
Sotheby’s is deeply privileged to present a curated assemblage of works from such an illustrious Collection. Across genres, categories, mediums and styles, the selection encompasses paintings, drawings, sculptures and photography as well as iconic cutting-edge design, furniture and decorative pieces. The selection of works on offer across our Evening and Day Auctions this spring focuses on design and sculptural works that reflect the collector’s abiding belief in art as an art of living.
Leading the group are exquisite pieces by renowned artist-designer husband-and-wife duo François-Xavier and Claude Lalanne. Les Lalanne, as they are known collectively, have carved out individual oeuvres shared by a common universe inspired by flora and fauna.
François-Xavier Lalanne is best known for his celebrated bestiary. Equal parts whimsical, primal and elegant, here they are represented by the monumental bronze sculpture Gorille de Sûreté I, Chien Prosaïque Contrarié and Le direction de L'escargot.
Sharing her husband’s love for nature, Claude Lalanne’s enchanting amalgamations of botanical forms and furniture are represented by Lantern With Butterflies, Bougeoir 4 bobêches and the pair of Chaise Aux Branchettes. Seamlessly integrating art and nature into domestic living spaces, Les Lalanne’s fantastical creations are highly coveted by celebrities and contemporary collectors.
Contrasting with Les Lalanne’s organic aesthetic are the sleek forms by leading industrial designer Ron Arad. The shelf RTW (Re-Inventing the Wheel) and table Puddle 8 are classic examples of Arad’s radical re-conception of forms and structures grounded in tireless experimentations on materials and technology. Sharing similar concerns with commercial industrial processes, American artist Larry Bell investigates the potential of glass and light in relation to visual perception through his laminated cubic class works, exemplified by VFZM 6.
Dynamics of Figure and Space
Further epitomizing the dynamic relationships between figure and space, art and environment are acclaimed sculptures by Sir Antony Gormley. The life size blockwork GUT XIII was featured in the exhibition “States and Conditions, Hong Kong in 2014.” Designed to resonate within the dense urban conditions particular to the city, Gormley’s sculptures were strategically positioned and dispersed throughout the gallery’s rooms and corridors, activating the environment into a psychic and physiological testing ground. The artist’s dexterity and diversity in his choice of medium are displayed to full effect through two smaller blockworks of wood, Gut Model I, and alabaster Splice Model, as well as the early cast iron sculpture Insider XIV (Child).
Puzzle, Illusions, and Nostalgia
Rounding up the selection are works by highly sought-after contemporary artists: Alighiero Boetti’s La Metà e il Doppio from his ballpoint pen series comprising puzzles, puns and linguistic quotes; Jack Whitten’s Persian Echo II which fuses optical illusion and impressionistic abstraction; Yoshitomo Nara’s Welcome to Fight, an early drawing of his classic feisty child with fist raised in victory; and Suh Do-ho’s Myselves, which investigates identity, individuality and collectivity. Last but not least, Andreas Gursky’s photograph of Hong Kong Kai Tak Airport when it was still in service in 1993 adds a poetic touch of nostalgia while nodding to the Asian heritage of the Collection.