Art from the Collection of Former French Résistance Agent Daniel Cordier

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Right hand of French Résistance hero Jean Moulin, distinguished historian, successful writer, avant-garde gallerist, eclectic collector and great patron of the arts, Daniel Cordier has lived a thousand lives. Ahead of Sotheby's Alias Daniel Cordier sale in Paris on 27 September, we explore some of the highlights from the coming sale, and the enthusiasm for art and artists that drove Cordier to collect. Click the image above to view the slideshow.

Alias Daniel Cordier
27 September | Paris

Art from the Collection of Former French Résistance Agent Daniel Cordier

  • Jean Dewasne, Sans Titre.
    Estimate €7,000–10,000.
    “Jean Dewasne was the first painter I knew: he alone represented all artists and all aesthetics, that is to say all enchantment. Very quickly, he introduced me to the magic of “constructed” painting which for many seemed too elegant and too cold. This rigorous theoretician knew how to introduce the tormented dreams of Piranesi and to keep hold of an exuberant sensibility at the heart of the most severe constraints. Geometrical painting is cold; he made it baroque. Dewasne rejected all the technical facility of traditional painting; he invented new means which do not play tricks with the surface, colour, the spectator, and deal with problems without denying or eluding them.” (Daniel Cordier, 1964)
  • Bernard Réquichot, Reliquaire des rencontres de campagne, 1959.
    Estimate €20,000–30,000.
    From his first encounter with Réquichot in 1950, Daniel Cordier never ceased to accompany, encourage and highlight the work of “this precocious genius fallen from the sky” whom he always thought of not only as a great painter but also a great poet. Cordier appreciated the creative force of this artist who died at the age of 32 and he was one of the first to buy a painting, sensing more than anyone the energy, treasures and rifts of the man who knew how to torture “the spiral until it spit out this sculpture-montage that germinates in our flesh like a lunar plant.”
  • Simon Hantaï, Sans Titre (double face), 1973.
    Estimate €70,000–100,000.
    "It is on the absolute flatness of surface that colour lives and vibrates, without any demonstration.” Yves Michaud, “Metaphysique de Hantaï”, in Simon Hantaï, Venice Biennale, Paris, AFAA, 1982, p.14
  • Louise Nevelson, Jardin Terrestre V, 1959.
    Estimate €10,000–15,000.
    “I will never forget the stupefaction of my first encounter with these works, which, for lack of buyers, cluttered the stairways, corridors and rooms, transforming the modest dwelling on Spring Street into a scabrous party. I tried, in my 1960 exhibition, to reconstitute the unforgettable atmosphere of that first visit.” Daniel Cordier
  • Henri Michaux, Dessin mescalinien, 1966.
    Estimate €15,000–20,000.
    After the war, Daniel Cordier purchased what he considered to be the first work of his collection: an ink drawing by Henri Michaux found in the window case of the bookshop on boulevard Saint-Germain. From then on Daniel Cordier endeavored to “passionately defend this artist’s work aimed for a minority, considering it to be the illustration of an exceptional literary imagination in its research.”
  • Julius Bissier, 30.April.60. 1960.
    Estimate €6,000–8,000
    Julius Bissier was 67 when his work was presented at the second Documenta in Kassel in 1959. For over twenty years, he had been working in the solitude of his studio in Hagnau, a small fishing village crouched on the edge of Lake Constance. It was here that Daniel Cordier discovered his drawings. Immediately charmed by their incomparable graphic quality combining abstract signs and Far-Eastern calligraphy, Cordier travelled to Germany to meet the artist. It was the beginning of a fruitful collaboration and the Cordier gallery frequently presented the ink drawings, monotypes, watercolours and miniatures of the founder of the Zen group during its eight years of existence.
  • Dado, Sans Titre.
    Estimate €15,000–20,000.
    Daniel Cordier met Dado in 1957. Recently arrived in Paris from Belgrade with his drawings of a wild and disturbing world reminiscent of Bosch, Kubin or Grosz, the young man who had discovered Dubuffet, overwhelmed Daniel Cordier. It was the beginning of “the most fruitful, the most original and the most irritating” collaboration that Daniel Cordier was to know. “Far from aesthetics”, “at the heart of bleeding humanity”, Dado’s disturbing images never ceased to fill Cordier with wonder.
  • Jean Dubuffet, Texturologie XVIII (Fromagée).1958.
    Estimate €200,000–300,000.
    Daniel Cordier met Jean Dubuffet for the first time in December 1952. Charmed by his hautes pâtes which “awaken a unique emotion”, he immediately decided to purchase the 400 drawings and gouaches in his possession. Over the years, a strong friendship built up between the two men passionate about freedom and profoundly anti-conformist. Adepts of an art that broke with the norm and convention, the theoretician of art brut upheld Daniel Cordier’s renewed gaze on art and culture. A knowledgeable and visionary amateur, Daniel Cordier exhibited Dubuffet’s works four times on the walls of his gallery from 1956 to 1964, becoming his dealer and then his sole representative in the space of a few years.
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