Giacometti, Picabia, Dalí and More Highlight the Impressionist & Modern Art Day Auction

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The Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale features exceptionally strong sculptural works, a comprehensive group of paintings and works on paper by Francis Picabia, a 1937 oil by Salvador Dalí and an abstract work on sandpaper by Joan Miró from the private collection of Renate and Robert Motherwell, to name just a few. Click through the slideshow to see some of the highlights that will be offered on 17 May in New York.

Impressionist & Modern Art Day
17 May | New York

Giacometti, Picabia, Dalí and More Highlight the Impressionist & Modern Art Day Auction

  • Robert Delaunay, La Ville de Paris, esquisse. Estimate $200,000–300,000.
    Painted in 1914, Le Ville de Paris, equisse presents one of the artist's most iconic subjects and indicates Delaunay's revolutionary transition from his earlier Cubist style toward his initiation of the Orphist movement. In a vibrant celebration of color and simplicity of form, Delaunay here depicts Paris, the city that figures most importantly in his oeuvre. He situates the Eiffel Tower, a symbol of his former Cubist deconstructions, in the distance and depicts the Three Graces in the foreground as an allegory for the grace and eloquence of his favorite city.

  • Kees van Dongen, Le Nu esthétique. Estimate $600,000–800,000.
    Sultry vixens and sensuous nudes, such as the one featured in Le Nu esthétique, are the hallmark of van Dongen's early career. This painting belongs to a group of works that the artist completed at the end of his involvement with the Fauves, when he was solidifying his reputation as the painter of the young beauties of the Parisian demi-monde. In 1909, when this work was executed, van Dongen was living in the Bateau-Lavoir, near Picasso's studio and amidst the hot-bed of avant-garde creativity. The smoky cafés and concert halls of the neighborhood were filled with young caberet performers and prostitutes who were willing to model, and, like so many young artists of his day, van Dongen was transfixed by their sublime and lurid beauty. His involvement with these women resulted in some of the most alluring canvases of his oeuvre and ultimately attracted a new audience for his art. Ironically, those most impressed with van Dongen's achievements were the grandes dames of Parisian society, who began commissioning portraits from him in the 1910s.

  • Frédéric Bazille, Thérèse lisant dans le parc de Méric. Estimate $450,000–650,000.
    Painted just 3 years prior to the artist’s death in 1870 at age 28, Thèrese lisant dans le parc de Méric is one of just 60 paintings Bazille created in his short career. He is largely considered to have been one of the most promising talents at the heart of the Impressionist movement from its earliest inception; he invited both Monet and Renoir to live and work in his Paris studio. The present work depicts the artist’s cousin, Thérèse des Hours, who sat for several of his best known works including Réunion de famille, currently in the collection of the Musée d’Orsay. A retrospective exhibition of the artist’s work, which has traveled to  the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. from the Musée d’Orsay, is reinforcing the artist’s place in the birth of Impressionism and the dawning of modernism sensibilities.

  • Odilon Redon, Fecondité: femme dans les fleurs. Estimate $350,000–450,000.
    A pensive young woman, leaning toward a bouquet of flowers and framed by a window or an arch, was a theme upon which Redon would create variations throughout much of his career. These pastels are not necessarily portraits, but rather meditations on concepts that are only eternal in dreams. Fecondité: Femme dans les fleurs is an exquisite example of this preoccupation with spirituality, fertility and beauty.  

  • Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Portrait de Stéphane Mallarmé. Estimate $400,000–600,000.
    Famed for his salons and revolutionary Symbolist poetry, Stéphane Mallarmé is depicted serenely and contemplatively by his friend and frequent salon guest, Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Mallarmé’s Symbolist writing and fin de siècle style anticipated fusions between poetry and other art forms, and he is credited for inspiring Cubism, Futurism, Dadaism and Surrealism. Renoir’s vigorous brushwork for this portrait is remarkable and effectively evokes the likeness of the sitter. Another 1892 portrait of Mallarmé by Renoir, for which the present work may have been the preparatory painting, currently hangs in the Château de Versailles.

  • Maurice de Vlaminck, Voiliers sur la Marne. Estimate $400,000–600,000.
    Maurice de Vlaminck was one of the principle figures of the radical Fauve movement which sought to champion painterly qualities and daring colors over representational values. The term was coined in 1905, when critic Louis Vauxcelles called the artists "wild beasts" for their progressive retaliation against traditional aesthetics. However, just two years later, Vlaminck was becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the coloristic exuberances of the movement he helped to found. In 1907, he attended an exhibition of Cézanne’s paintings at the Salon d’Automne which was to have a profound impact on the direction of his work. That same year he returned to his hometown of Chatou, a suburb of Paris located on the Seine. Vlaminck had grown up an avid yachtsman and found subjects for his paintings in the bustling life on the river and along the river’s edge. The present work comes from a significant period after his return to Chatou and following his rediscovery of the work of the Provençal master—the mutual influences of which are strongly apparent in the composition.

  • Alberto Giacometti, Tête d'Isabel. Estimate $150,000–250,000.
    Executed in 1936, Tête d’Isabel marks the return to figurative works and Giacometti’s use of models. Slightly smaller than life size, the present work is a true exploration of stylization. The figure’s smooth hair and strong profile are reminiscent of ancient Egyptian sculptures, and particularly representations of Nefertiti. Muse, mistress and friend of the Parisian avant-garde during the 1930s, Isabel Nicholas (1912-92) was a compelling personality and alluring subject for the most prominent artists of the period. There are several known versions of this sculpture, including one housed at The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. In 1936, it was cast in bronze in an edition of six by the Susse foundry.

  • Alexander Archipenko, Turning Torso. Estimate $400,000–600,000.
    The sensuous Turning Torso, carved from marble and smoothly polished, celebrates Archipenko's sensitivity toward the intricacy of the human form. The theme of the female torso had a prominent place in the sculptor's oeuvre, and the present work, one of his first attempts at rendering this part of the body in isolation, is perhaps his finest and most seductive. Early carved marbles by Archipenko appear very rarely on the market, and the present work, recently rediscovered in a private California collection, is one of only a few extant marble versions of this particular form. Archipenko later made two bronze editions of Turning Torso during his lifetime, underscoring its great significance in the context of his oeuvre. Another marble example of similar coloration may be found in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.    

  • Jean Arp, Entité ailée. Estimate $1,000,000–1,500,000.
    Entité ailée is representative of the artist's meditation on forms and their relationship with space and the world, at both a micro and macro level. Though an autonomous entity, the sculpture nevertheless maintains a dialogue with nature. Arp strove to preserve and cultivate a harmonious and advantageous balance between primordial and artistic creation. Entité ailée is a form which, with its convex and concave curves and smooth, taught surfaces, seemingly concentrates its energy into a pure and fluid rhythm.

  • Marc Chagall, Le Printemps. Estimate $600,000–800,000.
    Le Printemps is an exquisite depiction of springtime which includes some of Chagall’s most recognisable motifs: symbols of his Eastern European heritage, domesticity and a landscape evoking both the villages of his childhood home in Russia and the Mediterranean coastal towns in the south of France. The amalgamation of these elements results in a whimsical, dream-like composition that becomes an expression of the artist’s internal universe rather than an objective commentary of the modern world.

  • Salvador Dalí, Anatomies-Série décalcomanie. Estimate $700,000–1,000,000.
    Anatomies-Série décalcomanie, painted in 1937, exhibits Salvador Dalí’s striking draftsmanship through a wholly unique and profoundly technical visual language. At once haunting and beguiling, the present lot offers an extraordinary impression of the artist’s eternal spirit of experimentation, as well as his breath-taking virtuosity through which the illusions of his mind are translated to canvas. Completed only three years after his arrival to New York, this rare oil is the largest and most striking work in a series of “anatomies” produced in the same year, each depicting key psychoanalytical references and motifs recurrent throughout Dalí’s repertoire. In Anatomies, seven ghostly female torsos in saturated hues of white, red, pink and green emerge from the shadows of Dalí’s black surface, their anonymous heads rendered in blooms of blood-red pigment. The breasts of the female bodies are hollowed out and their figures simplified, offering the viewer an apparition of skeletal forms, whilst conveying the disquieting sense of confusion and horror inherent to Dalí’s iconography.

  • Wassily Kandinsky, Pointillé. Estimate $400,000–600,000.
    Pointillé is part of a group of gouaches executed on black paper which Kandinsky created during the last decade of his career while living in Paris, and it is testament to the virtuosity of his mature style. During his so-called Parisian period, Kandinsky preferred to work on paper far more than on canvas and he considered such works to be fully finished masterpieces, bearing all the hallmarks of his idiosyncratic style. The ability to skillfully handle graphic media was fundamental to Kandinsky’s conception of the artist.

  • Joan Miró, Sans Titre. Estimate $180,000–250,000.
    Joan Miró’s self-declared “assassination of painting” through Surrealist drama and mystery is exemplified in Sans titre, a work that exhibits the Catalonian artist’s fundamental challenge to traditional modes of painting, as well as his will to transcend the boundaries of Modernism’s most decisive movements. The present composition illuminates a golden monochromatic background interrupted by a dynamic expression of line and form. Vivid contrasts materialize between curved lines and sharp points, the angular and circular working against each other in yet another aesthetic tension inherent to Miró’s oeuvre.  The present work comes from the Private Collection of Robert Motherwell and Renate Ponsold Motherwell. "I like everything about Miró," Motherwell wrote in a 1959 essay for Art News. "A sensitive balance between nature and man's works, almost lost in contemporary art, saturates Miró's art, so that his work, so original that hardly anyone has any conception of how original, immediately strikes us to the depths." 

  • Francis Picabia, Transparence (Deux Têtes). Estimate $500,000–700,000.
    The present work belongs to the series of “Transparencies” Picabia executed in the late 1920s and early 1930s, aptly named for their simultaneous depiction of layered transparent images. Picabia began experimenting with illusory superimposition in 1924 for his film Entr’acte and in his Espagnole series. Drawing inspiration from natural phenomena, Romanesque Frescos, Renaissance painting and Catalan art, Picabia used the Transparencies series as a means to complicate the notion of art as a window unto or a reflection of the world; instead, Picabia sought to create a Surreal interplay of imagery that would confound traditional and straightforward readings of art.


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