A Vanguard Collection of Vanguard Artists

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This extraordinary array of works from an important private collection in Sweden celebrates the breadth of artistic vision in the early 20th century. Highlighting the constant dialogue and exchange of ideas that existed amongst these artists and demonstrating the collectors’ passion for Modern works that transcend pre-supposed stylistic boundaries, hints of Surrealism are here seeped within Cubist and Modernist canvases, Abstraction is grounded by Realism in others, and the Synthetist style is conveyed with Fauvist color and Impressionist elements.

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale
6 November | New York

A Vanguard Collection of Vanguard Artists

  • André Lhote, Port de Bordeaux, 1911. Estimate: $700,000–1,000,000.
    Hung alongside Cubist masterworks by Fernand Léger, Albert Gleizes and Jean Metzinger at the Salon d’Automne in 1911, Port de Bordeaux was painted at a pivotal moment not only in the career of André Lhote, but also in the history of Cubism and is arguably the most important work by the artist ever to appear at auction.

    Port de Bordeaux exemplifies Lhote’s transcendence of the rigid constraints of traditional Cubism in order to develop a highly theoretical and distinctive style according to his own subjective vision. Here we can clearly see the artist’s early interest in Fauve coloration within the Cubist ideas of form—the precise, unmodulated color within his palette, albeit softened, is painted with a superb sensitivity while the bold play of lines and superimpositions, a complex system of interacting planes and geometricized figurative elements, provide an inventiveness to the formal construct.

  • Fernand Leger, Le Vase Jaune, 1946. Estimate: $400,000–600,000.
    Boldly modeled and executed with an extraordinarily scintillating palette, Le Vase jaune is one of the artist's striking compositions of the late 1940s. In contrast to the rarefied and elitist aesthetic of postwar abstraction, these paintings of stark elegance were intended to appeal to the public with a more comprehensible, figurative style and subject matter. The sophisticated composition of the present work relies upon complex arrangements of geometric and stylised forms, and Léger introduced a variety of everyday objects that shared the pictorial space equally with one another and the non-specific background elements.

  • Fernand Léger, Composition au compas, 1932. Estimate: $250,000–350,000.
    During the 1930s, Léger's work focused largely on international interior design projects, and his paintings from this period often incorporate the crisp imagery that he devised for these purposes. These decorative projects led to a particular decorative flair in many of his formal canvas composition, leading to an increasingly abstract manner. Here, he isolates an architect's drafting compass and a biomorphic shape that resembles an underwater plant, which appears to be floating against an enclosed yellow background. Léger consigned this work to Galerie Louise Leiris, the Parisian gallery established by the preeminent early-Modernist dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler.

  • Marc Chagall, Le Mouton, 1927-38. Estimate: $400,000–600,000.
    Chagall adds a signature note of surreality to this composition by placing a hybridized figure of a human and a rooster at lower left. It was during the 1920s that the artist established the rooster or “coq” as his personal animal avatar, and the creature would come to dominate his oeuvre until the end of his career. The chimera seen here would evolve into a two-faced rooster and ultimately the bright red character seen centrally in so many compositions, indicating the presence of the artists within his own dreams, fantasies and recollections.

  • André Masson, Orpheus outragé, 1933. Estimate: $120,000–180,000.
    An extraordinarily agile artist, Masson’s use of calligraphic lines and kaleidoscopic colors are put to powerful use in a work that depicts one of Masson’s most successful themes, that of Greek mythology. Painted during a seminal moment in the artist’s career, the exuberant style of this painting embodies his unique approach—specifically his integration of color, line and form in a style that is at once figurative and abstract.

  • Pablo Picasso, Personnages III, 1968. Estimate: $300,000–400,000.
    Picasso drew enthusiastically throughout his later life, and the beginning of 1968 finds him concerned mostly with scenes of the Turkish bath. He produces numerous variations on the nude female figure, both alone and observed by roguish male onlookers often characterized by a musketeer—a noble and sophisticated gentleman appearing in Picasso’s works as a rakish and knowing lothario. Picasso further enlivens the present composition by introducing new characters that add a playful and mischievous tone. While some members of the group are depicted with burlesque exaggeration, others are smudged and blurred out of focus. Picasso has juxtaposed fluid and heavy lines, animating the characters and articulating the boundaries between them, and in so doing he powerfully exhibits the quality and drama of his draughtsmanship. Picasso seemed to revel in his indefinable style and prodigious variety: “you see me here and yet I’ve already changed, I’m already elsewhere. I never stay in one place and that’s why I have no style” (quoted in André Verdet, Picasso (exhibition catalogue), Musée de l’Athénée, Geneva, 1963, n.p.).

  • Pierre Bonnard, Bord de mer, circa 1933. Estimate: $80,000–120,000.
    The sky and water beautifully merge into one in Bonnard’s Bord de mer, a stunning work embodying the artist’s love for the South of France. Scholarship attests to Bonnard’s disparate approaches to depicting the North versus the South as a world of realism versus its bucolic ideal. By encompassing the land in swirling hues of pink and blue, Bonnard endows the scene with a mythological serenity.

  • André Lhote, Harlequin. Estimate: $60,000–80,000.
    Harlequins had become a ubiquitous figure in popular culture and a favorite subject of Cubist artists. The easily identifiable checkered costume in the present work provides the ideal surface on which Lhote could pursue his early experimentation with color and shape. The bold color palette in the present work demonstrates is early Fauvist style, while the harlequin’s visage is a clear reference to Picasso’s iterations of the motif.

  • Georges Rouault, Carmencita, 1934. Estimate: $60,000–80,000.
    Rouault is unapologetic and raw in his depiction of his figures in Carmencita, a work that is part of a group of portraits by Rouault depicting dancers, circus performers, lawyers and other members of public society. Several layers of pigment are discernable in the present work, creating a three-dimensionality that characterizes Rouault's strongest oeuvre. The work is highlighted by the deep swaths of black ink delineating the subject, representing a signature element of Rouault’s portraiture of this period.

  • Moïse Kisling, Saint Tropez. Estimate: $25,000–35,000.
    Kisling’s depictions of St. Tropez rarely appear at auction, particularly ones with such vitality of color. The darkening sky of Kisling’s adopted home beautifully contrasts with the sunbathed buildings towering over the figures walking along the shore. In this work, he strikingly captures every aspect of St. Tropez life: the harmonious marriage of mountain and seascapes with burgeoning urban living.

  • Louis Valtat, Deux enfants, 1894. Estimate: $25,000–35,000.
    Although Valtat did not consider himself to be a Synthetist painter like his friends Maurice Denis, Pierre Bonnard, and Edouard Vuillard, their stylistic influences are clearly present in Deux enfants. The broad swaths of color, the purity of the aesthetic, and the emphasis on the two-dimensionality of his medium harken to the primary tenants of Synthetist movement, but Valtat renders the work uniquely his own with more fauvist palette and an Impressionistic rendering of the girls’ surroundings.

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