S otheby’s Switzerland is delighted to present The Swiss Fine Art sale, a cross-category auction extending beyond borders to include important Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary works. The sale will feature major artworks from Biéler, Giacometti, Gottlieb, Hodler, Richter and Zao Wou-Ki.
As currently displayed in the major exhibition Modernités Suisses on view in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, and in the Zurich Kunsthaus (Gerhard Richter. Landscape), the sale reflects the deep and continuous dialogue between artists, works and collectors over the last 150 years in Europe.
The sale will be open for bidding from June 8-15 2021.
Sotheby’s is proud to offer a masterpiece by the Swiss pioneer of abstraction, Augusto Giacometti, titled Herbst / L’autunno which has never been shown in public since its execution in Florence in 1913, during the artist’s most creative period.
Throughout this time Giacometti continued his neo-impressionist exploration and applied colour like a mosaic of stones, in large, thick and pasted strokes, allowing areas of the light background canvas to show through. Giacometti’s play with light and colour on canvas harks back to his stained-glass masterpieces.
The sale will also feature an exquisite landscape by Ferdinand Hodler, Bäumkirsche am Genfersee. Originating from an important Swiss collection, the masterpiece has never appeared on the market nor been exhibited, therefore it is a unique discovery for collectors. Depicting a view from the UNESCO protected coast of Lavaux, the central motif of the isolated tree was one of Hodler’s favourite subject matters, often considered a visual metaphor for the artist himself: standing alone, yet with a place in the wider world. This work is the left section of a larger composition located in the Geneva Musée d’Art et d’Histoire.
The auction brings together a diverse range of important Swiss and international works by highly sought-after contemporary artists such as Armleder, Bill, Frize, Gottlieb, Nevelson and Richter.
The highlight of this section is Grün-Blau-Rot (Green-Blue-Red) by Gerhard Richter. Part of a series of 115 unique paintings executed especially for a 1993 limited edition of Parkett magazine, the work represents one of the most significant periods of Richter’s abstract paintings. Applying green, blue and red oil paint directly from the tube onto the canvas, Richter pulled the pigments across the surface using a squeegee, a signature method developed during the 1980s.
Another top lot of the sale is an important work on paper by Adolf Gottlieb, Untitled, dated 1968. Reminiscent of his iconic Burst series, it contains both the dynamism and approach to saturation and colour, two modes of expression central to Abstract Expressionism.
Leading the sale are works from the famous Parisian school. Showcasing important paintings from well-known artists of the period such as Atlan, Estève, Poliakoff, Lanskoy and Zao Wou-Ki, the works offered reflect the large diversity of influences and act as an homage to this fascinating artistical time.
Zao Wou-Ki’s œuvre typically reflects the wide influence of the Parisian school, fusing Eastern and Western art traditions through fluid compositions. Suggestive and remarkably elegant, the ink on paper presented in the sale particularly emphasizes the way in which the artist integrated his Chinese heritage into his artworks.
Another highly important artist of this time, Maurice Estève, constructed his compositions with great spontaneity. In the work Biclu from 1892, the rigor of the composition and the robustness of the forms are combined with fundamental tones exalted to saturation. Just like the strings of a musical instrument, the canvas vibrates and creates a genuine visual score.
The artistic group known as the School of Savièse led by Ernest Biéler, offer their idealised and romanticised vision of the countryside in the Swiss Canton of Valais. One of the leading lots of the sale is Les Fardeaux, a seminal work of Biéler. As in other portraits of this period, the artist depicts the tradition of Valais through dedicated attention to traditional costumes, landscapes and scenes from everyday life.
In a similar vein, we also present a large-sized and important work by another member of the group, Raphy Dallèves, Men at the bar. Dallèves strived to depict the ‘real’ mountain people, promoting the rural life in a simple and humble vision.