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34

WIFREDO LAM | SANS TITRE

Artist's Resale RightVAT reduced rate

Estimate:

240,000

to
- 280,000 EUR

WIFREDO LAM | SANS TITRE

WIFREDO LAM | SANS TITRE

Estimate:

240,000

to
- 280,000 EUR

Lot sold:

327,100

EUR

Property from a Private European Collection

WIFREDO LAM

1902 - 1982

SANS TITRE


indinstinctly signed Wifredo Lam (lower left)

oil on canvas

60,4 x 78 cm; 23¾ x 30⅝ in.

Painted in 1945.


Eskil Lam has kindly confirmed the authenticity of this work.

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Provenant d'une collection particulière européenne

WIFREDO LAM

1902 - 1982

SANS TITRE


indinstinctement signé Wifredo Lam (en bas à gauche)

huile sur toile

60,4 x 78 cm; 23¾ x 30⅝ in.

Peint en 1945.


L'authenticité de cette œuvre a été confirmée par Eskil Lam.

The canvas is not lined. The edges are reinforced with tape. The preparatly layer of pigment is very thin and the weave of the canvas is visible in places notably towards the upper right corner and along the right edge and in places along the left edge. Examination under UV light reveals three small spots of retouching towards the centre of the left edge to the wing of the flying figure at upper centre and towards the upper right corner. There is a further area of fluorescence towards the centre of the lower edge which does not appear to be related to restoration. This work is in overall 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.

NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."

Private collection, Paris

Private collection (by descent and sold: Christie's, Paris, June 3, 2015, lot 30)

Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

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Collection particulière, Paris

Collection particulière (par descendance et vendu: Christie's, Paris, 3 juin 2015, lot 30)

Acquis lors de cette vente par le propriétaire actuel

Painted in 1945, the present painting was conceived at a pivotal moment in Wifredo Lam's career. After two decades spent in Europe, Lam had returned to his native Cuba four years previously when he embarked on the 'Capitaine Paul Lemerle' in March 1941 alongside numerous other artists and intellectuals wishing to escape occupied France. This return to the land of his origins was of fundamental importance to the painter who revisits his childhood beliefs. Indeed, Lam was brought up in Sagua la Grande, surrounded by the rites and traditions of Santeria (a variant of Haitian voodoo), a syncretic faith which combines the gods of the Yoruba religion and the saints of Catholicism. This education forged the foundations of the imaginative world of the child Lam and that of the artist he would become, a world populated by phantoms and spirits, where the real world and hallucinations were inextricably entwined.


It is this magical universe which is transcribed into the present painting. Lam rouses and summons forth from the tropical forest a whole world of divinities, demons and metaphysical forces. Lam here initiates the viewer into the mysteries of Afro-Cuban mythology, with its world of invisible beings, winged and with menacing horns, representing the Orishas of the Yoruba religion.


Painted in 1945, Lam created the present work at the very moment he achieved official recognition as an artist of major importance; the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York had just acquired the first masterpiece ha had painted upon his return to Cuba, La Jungle, which was promptly displayed alongside Picasso's Demoiselles d'Avignon. Owing to the further support of the famous gallery-owner Pierre Matisse, to whom he had been introduced by André Breton and who, in 1942 and 1944, had already exhibited Lam's work in his gallery, Lam went on to benefit from a firmly established reputation in the New York art world.


Lam here adopts refined colours and a touch which is both more delicate and evanescent than in his previous works, befitting the transcription of the elusive magic of the Cuban jungle. A painting in which Lam intuitively synthesizes his profound understanding of both African magic and Occidental art, the present work is the perfect illustration of Aimé Césaire's declaration in 1946: "Nourished by the salt of the sea, the sunshine, the rain, by spellbinding and sinister moons, Wifredo Lam is the one who reminds the modern world what primeval terror and fervour could be".

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Lorsqu'il peint le présent tableau en 1945, Wifredo Lam est à un moment charnière de sa carrière. Cela fait alors quatre ans, après deux décennies passées en Europe que Lam est revenu à Cuba, son pays natal, embarquant en mars 1941 sur le 'Capitaine Paul Lemerle' avec de nombreux autres artistes et intellectuels afin de fuir la France occupée. Ce retour sur la terre de ses origines est d'une importance fondamentale dans le travail du peintre qui renoue avec les racines et les croyances de son enfance. Lam a en effet été élevé à Sagua la Grande, au milieu des rites et des traditions de la Santeria (l'équivalent du Vaudou haïtien), croyance syncrétique mêlant dieux issus des croyances yorubas et saints de la religion catholique. Cette éducation forge les fondements de l'imaginaire de Lam enfant puis de l'artiste qu'il deviendra, un monde peuplé de fantômes et d'esprits, où monde réel et hallucinations se mêlent inextricablement.


C'est tout cet univers magique qui est retranscrit dans le présent tableau. Lam fait ici surgir de la forêt tropicale tout un monde de divinités, de démons et de forces métaphysiques. Avec ce tableau, Lam initie donc le spectateur aux mystères de la mythologie afro-cubaine, avec son univers peuplé d'êtres invisibles, de cornes menaçantes et d'oiseaux mystérieux, incarnant les orishas, divinités centrales de la religion Yoruba.


Ce tableau est peint par Lam en 1945, au moment-même où il atteint la consécration en tant qu'artiste. La Jungle, son premier chef d'œuvre peint à son retour à Cuba, vient en effet d'être acquis par le Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) de New York afin d'y être exposé aux côtés des Demoiselles d'Avignon de Picasso. Grâce au soutien du célèbre galeriste Pierre Matisse à qui André Breton l'a présenté et qui l'a déjà exposé à deux reprises en 1942 et en 1944, Lam bénéficie en outre d'une réputation désormais solidement établie dans le milieu artistique new-yorkais.


Dans la présente œuvre, Lam adopte ici des couleurs raffinées et une touche plus délicate et plus évanescente que dans ses œuvres antérieures, propre à traduire la magie insaisissable de la jungle cubaine. Parfaite synthèse de la magie africaine et de l'art occidental, ce tableau est l'illustration parfaire de cette phrase d'Aimé Césaire en 1946 : "Nourri de sel marin, de soleil, de pluie, de lunes merveilleuses et sinistres, Wifredo Lam est celui qui rappelle le monde moderne à la terreur et à la ferveur premières".