Lot 1010
  • 1010

PABLO PICASSO | Juan-les-Pins

Estimate
5,000,000 - 8,000,000 HKD
Sold
7,920,000 HKD
bidding is closed

Description

  • Pablo Picasso
  • Juan-les-Pins
  • signed Picasso and dated 24 (upper left); inscribed Juan les Pins 24 on the stretcher on the reverse
    painted in 1924
  • oil on canvas
  • 22.2 by 35.7 cm; 8 ¾ by 14 in. 
label of Bonne Fète, Monsieur Picasso, from Southern Californian Collectors exhibition at UCLA Art Galleries affixed to the stretcher on the reverse 

Provenance

Heinz Berggruen, Paris
Mr & Mrs Walter Oppenheimer, Los Angeles (acquired from the above by 1961. Sold by their estate: Christie’s, New York, 7th November 2007, lot 433)
Purchased at the above sale by the present important private European owner

Exhibited

Los Angeles, University of Californian Art Galleries, Bonne Fète, Monsieur Picasso, from Southern Californian Collectors, 1961, no. 19, illustrated in the catalogue (titled Juan-les-Pins)
Monaco, Grimaldi Forum de Monaco, Picasso Côte d'Azur, 12 July - 15 September 2013

Literature

Christian Zervos, Pablo Picasso Vol. 5: Œuvres de 1923 à 1925, Éditions Cahiers D’art, Paris, 1952,  plate 329, p. 150
Bonne Fète, Monsieur Picasso, from Southern Californian Collectors, UCLA Art Galleries, Los Angeles, 1961, plate 19
Jean-Louis Andral, Marilyn McCully, Michael Raeburn, Picasso Côte d'Azur, Hazan, Vanves, 2013, plate 15, p. 69

Catalogue Note

The Rhythms of the Pines and the Wonders of the Sea:
The First Picasso Painting for Evening Sale in Hong Kong

Pablo Picasso was undoubtedly one of the greatest modern masters in art history: his artistic creativity and his influence on global art are unrivalled, and his works have long-since been valued and treasured by many, making the backbone of the international art market. For the very first time, an artwork by Picasso, Juan-les-Pins (Lot 1010),  shall take the stage in Sotheby’s Hong Kong Evening Sale, solemnly presented by the Modern Asian Art Department. Juan-les-Pins was created in 1924, an era in which several pioneering Asian modern artists also stayed in Paris, including Sanyu, Tsuguharu Foujita, Pan Yuliang, and Yan Wenliang. The selection of works by these artists to be offered in this evening sale heightens the Modern Asian Art market, in which the East and the West engage more maturely and in paralell, in effect creating a brand new chapter in the history of Asian art auctions.

Picasso painted and created endlessly in his life, reaching several peaks throughout his artistic journey. The early 1920s was period to be depicted especially in rich colours and great detail. Picasso married the Russian ballerina Olga Khokhlova in 1918, welcoming their son Paulo three years later. The family of three (happily) lived on the Côte d'Azur in Southeastern France through the 1920s until 1933. The alluringly beautiful and scenic area had been immensely popular amongst the noble, the celebrities and the elites since the late eighteenth century. Today, it remains one of the most prosperous regions of the world, hosting the annual renowned Cannes Film Festival. The coastline of the Côte d'Azur stretches three kilometers and is divided into several independent coastal towns. In order to fully relish his surroundings, Picasso and his family often moved from one town to another, favouring the lively beach town of Juan-les-Pins – home to the Grimaldi Museum, which was later renamed and become the first Musée Picasso. This inevitably established a deep and profound tie between the location and the artist. The smooth-sailing in life, combined with a happy family life and the intoxicating landscape of the Mediterranean, formed an important creative period for Picassso at the Côte d'Azur – a period which remains its significance amongst scholars today in studying Picasso’s artistic life. It was in this context Juan-les-Pins was painted.

The Picasso’s moved into Villa la Vigie in Juan-les-Pins in summer 1924, where he set up his own studio in a warehouse a street away. Built in 1912 and remains an iconic landmark to this day, the Neo-Medieval style villa was later purchased by local entrepreneur Frank Jay Gould in 1928, which later accommodated famous guests including author Jean Cocteau, actor Charlie Chaplin and cosmetic mogul Estée Lauder. Pablo Picasso was passionately enamoured of the hotel and its panoramic view of the Juan-les-Pins coastline, so much so that no long after moving in, on July 29 1924, he sent a postcard of the view of Villa la Vigie from Juan-les-Pins to his most important collector and critic, Gertrude Stein. He marked Villa La Vigie in pencil on the postcard and wrote "Voici notre villa" above it, illustrating his strong feelings of joy and satisfaction with his new abode. In this contented phase of his life, Picasso entered a new stage of creativity in which Classicism and Cubism played equal roles, when he painted his still life masterpiece Mandolin and Guitar, presently in the collection of the Guggenheim Museum. Meanwhile the artist included the charm of Juan-les-Pins into work, completing a series of exquisite and peerless landscape paintings. Jean-les-Pins is a classic work from this series that depicts the artist's view of Villa La Vigie and Juan-les-Pins from his studio. The dimensions of the painting might be small, but Picasso was a master of manipulating space, incorporating the most representative elements of the local scenery into his painting. The name Juan-les-Pins derives from the Italian stone pine – a trimmed and orderly-shaped tree with a crown-like umbrella canopy on a thick trunk, resembling a Chinese pavilion found in oriental gardens. The artist intentionally sought inspiration in Eastern aesthetics, painting a ring of pine trees around the scene. The right side of the painting shows the tower of Villa la Vigie bursting from the thick umbrella of pine leaves, creating a neat but inclusive and powerful close-up image. On the left, one-third of the space is split into three-part, depicting the sky at the top, mountains in the centre, and the ocean at the bottom. The essence of the painting is in the middle. At first glance, it appears to be the view of the town between and beach and the villa. Upon closer inspection, it is apparent that the vertical swaths of orange and yellow paint bring a touch of surrealism to the painting, reminding one of a mirage, perhaps echoing Picasso’s subconscious fondness of his memories in Paris. Looking at the painting from right to left and from near to the distance, everything seems to be drawn together by white clouds and haze. The seemingly hollow and meaningless embellishments in fact bring the picture together, connecting virtuality with reality.

The turn of the twentieth century marked the start of profound interaction and exchange between Eastern and Western art. European masters began to draw inspiration from Eastern art as early as mid-nineteenth century: late-Impressionist master Van Gough devoted some time imitating prints and lithographs from the East, at the same time establishing his own artistic style. Similarly, Picasso had always viewed art outside of Europe with much interest and enthusiasm, and he often drew on foreign artistic influences to embark on new techniques and trends. The composition of Juan-les-Pins is a reorganisation of deconstructed elements, exhibiting the characteristics of the artist's Synthetic Cubism. The arrangement of a circular interior combined with a rectangular exterior, combined with the multi-dimensional transparity and perspective, allow us to relate to the experience of walking through an oriental garden, thus creating a subtle but lively mix of the East and the West. Not only did Picasso's assimilation of the quintessence of oriental art contributed to his individual artistic success, but his valuing of the Eastern culture as a Western master also inspired other sojourning Asian pioneers such as Lin Fengmian, Wu Dayu, Sanyu, and Tsuguharu Foujita, who devoted themselves to integrating Western and their own ethnic traditions, into creating a modern art movement which truly belongs to Asia.                                                                                              

The legacy of Juan-les-Pins dates back to Heiz Berggruen, a close friend of the artist. Berggruen was an important German collector and art dealer who was notorious for collecting and promoting Western modern masters, who, in his later years, generously donated a considerable amount of valuable pieces to the MoMA in New York. He also sold a large part of his collection to the German federal government to form the core collection of the Berggruen Museum in Berlin. This painting was passed from the Berggruen’s collection onto the hands of the fashion entrepreneur and pilanthropist Walter Oppenheimer. Mr. and Mrs. Oppenheimer were also famous collectors of the modern masters, and major benefactors of the University of California, Los Angeles who donated part of their collection to the University's Hammer Museum. As part of the Oppenheimer collection, Juan-les-Pins participated in the 1961 UCLA exhibition named ‘Bonne Fête’ Monsieur Picasso from Southern California Collectors. In commemoration of the fourtieth anniversary of Picasso’s death in 2013, the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco held a major retrospective of his work, assembling and exhibiting 160 works from top museums and private collectors aruond the world. The core of the exhibition was a section titled  Picasso: Côte d'Azur, following Picasso’s footsteps and journey through the region, demonstrating the milestone significance of this period in studying his art. Juan-les-Pins was displayed directly across from Mandolin and Guitar, also a 1924 masterpiece from the Guggenheim Museum. Needless to say, the importance and extraordinary status of Juan-les-Pins was again heightened through the participation in the Monaco exhbition and its prominent position in the showroom. In addition to being featured in the catalogues of the two abovementioned exhibitions, Jean-les-Pins was also included in the fifth volume of the 1952 publication Pablo Picasso; its provenance is indeed clear and documented. In regard to market value, the auction record for 1920s Picasso oil paintings of similar size was 3.5 million USD (approx. 27 million HKD) back in 2015, and several other works have been sold for between one and two million USD (7.8-15.5 million HKD). Oil paintings on paper and charcoal sketches by the artist have also challenged and surpassed these benchmarks, so the auction estimate for Juan-les-Pins could be said to be far lower than its objective market value. In an environment where smaller works by Asian modern masters often sell for over 5 million HKD, the value of this exquisite work by Picasso is truly more evident, forming a superb and excellent choice for collectors who wish to enhance their collections with a piece that completes the artistic dialogue between East and West.

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