From Basquiat to Dubuffet: 8 Paris Contemporary Highlights

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The Contemporary Art Evening Auction in Paris on 6 December comprises a superb selection of works from the post-war period to the present. The sale includes highly sought after pieces by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jean Dubuffet, Zao Wou-Ki, Pierre Soulages, Jean-Paul Riopelle and Simon Hantaï among others. Click ahead to see a selection of highlights.

Art Contemporain – Evening Sale
6 December | Paris

Art Contemporain Day Sale
7 December | Paris

From Basquiat to Dubuffet: 8 Paris Contemporary Highlights

  • Jean-Michel Basquiat, Thin in the Old, 1986.
    Estimate €3,000,000—5,000,000.
    Throughout his brief yet prolific career Jean-Michel Basquiat explored many themes including capitalism, racism, identity and death. In this sense Thin in the Old is emblematic of Basquiat’s work as it deals with all of these subjects in one work. Painted a few weeks after the artist’s trip to the Ivory Coast, Thin in the Old also reflects the artist’s fascination for African cultural heritage.

  • Zao Wou-Ki, 1.9.60, 1960.
    Estimate €1,000,000—1,500,000.
    At the end of the summer of 1960, whilst he was producing 1.9.60, Zao Wou-Ki was at the peak of his artistic career, having freed himself from all naturalist shackles and allowing himself to be submerged by his emotions. 1.9.1960 is a remarkable example of this achievement and a rare canvas that hasn’t been shown since the early 1960s.

  • Germaine Richier, La Tauromachie, 1953.
    Estimate €800,000—1,200,000.
    After the Second World War, Richier let her extraordinary imagination run wild, going beyond her academic training in classical sculpture to embrace a unique aesthetic of fantasy. La Tauromachie is emblematic of this development and transposes Richier’s sculptural genius and her tragic vision of a disintegrating society. A tribute to the survival of humanity after a murderous war, the work represents a fantastic creature from a timeless era that is also an echo of our times.

  • Jean-Paul Riopelle, Untitled, 1954.
    Estimate €900,000—1,200,000.
    By spreading the paint with a knife and orchestrating different levels of depth, Riopelle creates a play of light which asks the spectator to clear a path across the dense and kaleidoscopic surface. At the heart of Untitled a pictorial space thus opens out, drawing us into a visual dance to a rhythm dictated to us by the painter.

  • Jean Dubuffet, Célébration du sol, 1957.
    Estimate €700,000—1,000,000.
    In the 1950s Dubuffet threw himself into a project of tectonic excavation. He probed geological strata to reveal the world’s hidden beauty, so that the familiar becomes strange and the everyday magical in the space of an instant. From the surprising perspective of the ground seen vertically from above, Dubuffet opens the door onto a fabulous dimension of the world, hitherto inaccessible.

  • Pierre Soulages, Peinture 46 x 55 cm, 1958.
    Estimate €600,000—800,000.
    Speaking about his work, Soulages said: “In my paintings, the light reflected by the paint is more important than the colour. Even if black has always been endowed with magical powers. Otherwise, how can we explain that the cavemen of Lascaux painted with black in the darkest places when they only needed to crouch down to pick up some chalk?”

  • Simon Hantaï, Tabula, 1975.
    Estimate €250,000—350,000.
    The Tabulas series, the longest of Hantaï’s career, fully occupied him for over ten years, from the end of 1973 to 1982. It includes two important phases: the years 1974-1976 during which Hantaï explored a tightly woven grid, and the years 1980-82 of more voluminous form as the artist chose to gradually reduce the number of forms by increasing their size. Tabula , with its network of squares in scarlet tones, makes light vibrate across the canvas with extraordinary force. Both expressionist and minimal it brings together contradictory art currents in prodigious fashion.

  • Hans Hartung, T1952-53, 1952.
    Estimate €250,000—350,000.
    Talking about the use of lines in his work, Hans Hartung said: “It is no longer about a simple figuration. The line itself expresses the lion’s force: the line itself - in itself, and not what it represents or what it shows - becomes an expression and a plastic sign loaded with emotion. This was something that was completely freed in me and gave me the courage to follow my own inclinations, my own unconscious will.”

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