Lot 17
  • 17

Victor Brauner

150,000 - 200,000 EUR
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  • Victor Brauner
  • Légèrement chaude or Adrianopole, 1937
  • oil on panel
  • Signed VICTOR BRAUNER and dated 1937 lower right, titled ADRIANOPOLE lower centre; signed Victor Brauner, dated 1937 and titled légèrement chaude ou adrianopole on the reverse
  • 13,9 x 18,1 cm; 5 1/2  x 7 1/8  in.


André Breton, Paris
Maîtres Calmels and Cohen, Paris, Vente André Breton, April 15, 2003, lot 4247
Collection Jacques Grange, Paris


Paris, Galerie Gradiva, 1938
Paris, Galerie des Beaux-Arts, Exposition internationale du surréalisme, January-February 1938, no. 19
Paris, L'Œil galerie d'art, Minotaure, May-June 1962, no. 8, illustrated in the catalogue n. p.
Paris, Musée national d'art moderne, Victor Brauner, June 2-September 25, 1972, no. 24, illustrated in the catalogue n. p.
Geneva, Musée Rath; Paris, Musée d'art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Regards sur Minotaure, la revue à tête de bête, October 17, 1987-January 31, 1988 (Geneva) and March 17-May 29, 1988 (Paris), no. 97, illustrated in the catalogue p. 182
Paris, Musée national d'art moderne/Centre Georges Pompidou, André Breton, la beauté convulsive, April 25-August 26, 1991, illustrated in the catalogue p. 318
Bonn, Kunst -und Ausstellungshalle des Bundesrepublik Deutschland in Bonn, Buñuel ! Auge des Jahrhunderts, February 4-April 24, 1994
Paris, Pavillon des Arts, Le surréalisme et l'amour, Mars 6-June 18, 1997, no. 12, illustrated in the catalogue p. 118
Paris, Musée national d'art moderne/Centre Georges Pompidou, La révolution surréaliste, March 6-June 24, 2002
Düsseldorf, K20 Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Surrealismus 1919-1944, July 20-November 24, 2002


Minotaure, troisième année, no. 10, illustrated n. p.
André Breton, Le Surréalisme et la peinture, Paris, 1965, illustrated p. 76
Didier Semin, Victor Brauner, Paris, 1990, illustrated p. 89
Margaret Montagne, L'œuvre graphique de Victor Brauner (1903-1966), thesis, Lyon, 1998, no. 90-10-661 and from no. 90-10-661 to no. 90-10-1054, illustrated n. p.


The board is sound. There is some minor frame rubbing along the extreme edges with associated tiny lines and dots of retouching visible under UV light, notably to the upper right and left corners. There is a fine line of horizontal craquelure towards the lower part of the left edge (approx. 2 cm long), possibly inherent to the medium. This work is in very good condition.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Samy Kinge has kindly confirmed the authenticity of this work.

Painted in 1937, Légèrement chaude or Adrianopolis is a work whose importance in the temple of Surrealism can be measured in light of Breton’s consideration for this oil on panel work of which he was the first owner and the eloquent bibliography devoted to it. A hallucinatory fascination for automatons, an endless taste for fantastic and overtly erotic allusions: all the elements indicative of a masterful and essential artwork are brought together within a surface whose dimensions are far from being proportionate to the senseless meanings and interpretations to which the work – if only by its title – has inspired.

In 1930, Brauner was in Paris. His studio was situated next to Giacometti's and Tanguy's. He very much wanted to meet the Surrealists and convinced Tanguy to take him to the Café de la Place Blanche where he met Breton. In 1932, he joined the Parisian Surrealist group. In 1937, Victor Brauner was in Bucharest. Légèrement chaude or Adrianopolis is part of the limited number of small panels of identical format with the function, as Brauner explained himself, to be transported "in a suitcase" in preparation of all eventualities. In 1938, Brauner returned to Paris. “In the suitcase”, Breton chose Légèrement chaude or Adrianopolis.

In 1938, one year after Légèrement chaude or Adrianopolis Brauner lost an eye. In an attempt to separate a fight between Oscar Dominguez and Esteban Frances, Brauner’s eye was torn out by a glass thrown by Dominquez. In 1931, the Self-portrait kept in the Musée national d’Art Moderne depicts him with an enucleated eye. The eye thus became a recurring, obsessional and obsessive motif. In Légèrement chaude or Adrianopolis, the violated eye is symbolised twice : one lies on the floor outside, the other nestles in a grey wall from where it observes the disturbing scene. Brauner describes it in these terms: “Another painting, currently in André Breton’s collection and exhibited at the time at the Surrealist gallery “Gradiva” where in the middle a strange woman can be seen transformed into a wheeling table by the wheels that emerge from her knees and elbows, wearing enormous horns in place of eyes. All the action takes places in a room without a wall, where a landscape is visible: in a simple landscape, a few eyes squeezed here and there. An eye is placed on the window in the background.” (quoted in Victor Brauner, Paris, Réunion des musées nationaux, 1990, p. 307).

The aggressive and wounding eye is that of the woman from whose empty orbits a huge and bulging horn emerges. This horn similar to a bull’s horn, is turned to the outside. Is it on the lookout, from the heights of Adrianopolis, for the arrival of the famous mathematician Hero of Alexandria? He was known for his work on automatons in his writings and in the practice of antique art. Admired by some, he was accused of sorcery and jeered by others. In Brauner’s work, the theme of the automaton is, if not dangerously, at least closely linked to that of the hybrid creature. Drawn from the study of ancient mythology, one of Brauner’s preferred subjects, the deformation and the metamorphosis of the body in his art refer to the myth of a humanity whose reconstruction is as necessary as it is dramatic: the notion of the useful man or woman can only be mocked. Endowed with exogenous, utilitarian and demeaning attributes, the woman is particularly the target for this debased and fantasmatic vision of the world. If Duchamp’s La Mariée mise à nu par les célibataires même and Bellmer’s dolls are of a different register, Max Ernst’s Femme chancelante (1923) and the Machine à coudre électro-sexuelle by Oscar Dominguez (1934) combine material and sexual fantasy. In Légèrement chaude or Adrianopolis , the woman is a woman-object or great priestess having pawned her eyes to the bull of her love. In Brauner’s hermetic world, she excites the imagination.


Fig. 1 André Breton et Victor Brauner, 1940