Suprematist Masterwork Leads Impressionist & Modern Evening Sale

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NEW YORK – Kazimir Malevich’s iconic Suprematist Composition with Plane in Projection led the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening sale on 16 May, with active bidding between four bidders bringing the work to $21.2 million. Sculpture drew strong demand throughout the night. Bringing $16 million after highly competitive bidding, Max Ernst’s Le Roi jouant avec la reine nearly tripled its estimate, setting a record for any sculpture by the artist. Alberto Giacometti’s Buste de Diego achieved a remarkable $10.9 million, while Diego Giacometti’s ambitious Bibliothèque de l'Île Saint-Louis fetched $6.3 million. Claude Monet’s exquisite water lily Le Bassin aux nymphéas was the highlight of the evening’s Impressionist works, achieving $16 million. Click ahead to view the evening’s results.

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Impressionist & Modern Art Evening

Suprematist Masterwork Leads Impressionist & Modern Evening Sale

  • Kazimir Malevich, Suprematist Composition with Plane in Projection, 1915. Sold for $21.2 million.
    A strong group of early Abstract works were led by Kazimir 
Malevich’s Suprematist Composition with Plane in Projection of 
1915 – a prime example of the artist’s 
“Suprematist” paintings, which are extremely rare. Coined by the 
artist during his exhibition at the 0.10: Last Futurist Exhibition of
 Paintings in Petrograd in 1915 – in which the present work most
 likely hung – the term refers to Malevich’s fascination with the 
impact of colour and form. For the exhibition, Malevich displayed 39
 paintings detached from figurative subject matter. The appearance
 of Suprematist Composition with Plane in Projection in our May auction is particularly timely: Malevich is a focus of the Royal Academy of Art’s recent exhibition Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932

  • Claude Monet, Le Bassin aux nymphéas, circa 1917–20. Sold for $16 million.
    The selection of Impressionist pictures on offer this May was led by Claude Monet’s Le Bassin aux
 nymphéas, a powerful testament to the artist’s
 enduring creativity in his mature years. Monet’s paintings of his water lily 
pond at Giverny rank among the most celebrated
Impressionist works. Painted circa 1917-20, Le Bassin
aux nymphéas captures the famous pond that served 
as a boundless source of inspiration, providing the major themes that dominated his final decades. The enduring impact of these late paintings is evident in abstract works by artists including Jackson Pollock, Joan Mitchell and Gerhard Richter.

  • Max Ernst, Le Roi jouant avec la reine, conceived in 1944. Sold for $16 million.
    Le Roi jouant avec la reine is Max Ernst's masterpiece in sculpture. Belonging to a small group of sculptures that Ernst conceived in 1944, Le Roi jouant avec la reine is one of the artist’s most powerful and compelling plastic works and illustrates his visionary approach to the medium. The power of this work lies in the contrast in scale between the oneiric, god-like figure of the King who rises out of the chessboard and the smaller figure of the queen who sits within his embrace. 

  • Pablo Picasso, Tête d'homme, 1969. Sold for $10.9 million.
    Painted in 1969, about a week before his 88th birthday, Pablo Picasso’s self-portrait Tête d’homme was first exhibited in a one-man show that the artist curated himself in the hallowed halls of the Palace of the Popes in Avignon. Its grand scale, sweeping Gothic arches and quatrefoil windows were ideally suited to the great scale and impact of Picasso’s paintings from the period, including the present work. In many ways Tête d’homme epitomises Picasso’s obsession with and admiration for Vincent van Gogh, echoing several elements of that artist’s Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat from 1887. 

  • Alberto Giacometti, Buste de Diego, conceived circa 1957. Sold for $10.9 million.
     Alberto Giacometti’s Buste de Diego is one of the artist’s most radical and engaging works. Measuring just over two feet in height, the work’s significant size contributes to its robust personification of the Existentialist movement during the contentious years of the Cold War. The bronze depicts one of Giacometti’s most frequent inspirations: his younger brother, Diego. 

  • Giorgio de Chirico, Il Sogno di Tobia (The Dream of Tobias), painted in April–August 1917. Sold for $9.2 million.
    Il Sogno di Tobia (The Dream of Tobias) is a stunning, enigmatic composition painted at the height of De Chirico's Metaphysical period. Created the same year he formally founded the Scuola Metafisica, this work is one of only six canvases he completed during his stay at the Villa Seminario, which coincided with that of Carlo Carrà's residence at the same location. The term “Metaphysical” had first been given to De Chirico's paintings in 1914 by the French poet Guillaume Apollinaire and referred to the enigmatic quality of his urban landscapes. De Chirico's best Metaphysical compositions, like this one, are oddly devoid of any life, exposing the evocative and melancholic power of inanimate objects.

  • Henry Moore, Seated Woman, conceived in 1957. Sold for $7.4 million.
    The human figure was Henry Moore’s abiding passion and the primary subject of his art. Seated Woman, conceived in 1957, is one of his most important works. It belongs to a series of large sculptures of women that Moore created in the 1950s that occupy a key position in his oeuvre. The monumentality of this seated figure marked a bold new approach in his work that was developed from the 1950s onwards, and resulted in seated forms temporarily taking precedence over his standing and reclining figures for the rest of the decade.

  • Gustav Klimt, Dame im Fauteuil (Woman in An Armchair). Sold for $7.4 million.
    Painted in 1897-1898, Gustav Klimt’s Dame im Fauteuil (Woman in Armchair) is a rare example of the artist’s early portraiture. The work also illustrates his affiliation with the Symbolist painters of the late 19th century. The female sitter is swathed richly in a matching red dress and hat, her narrow waist belted in a deep green. The serenity and delicate pallour of her face is mirrored in the ghostly quality of the two outlined heads in the upper left of the composition. 

  • Georges Braque, La Pianiste, 1937. Sold for $7.1 million.
    La Pianiste represents the pivotal moment in Georges Braque’s career when he synthesised his Cubist sense of space with the vibrant palette of his early Fauve years. Part of what is considered Braque’s first true series, and recognised as the beginning of his late period, La Pianiste is the only major example of this seminal group to remain in private hands. Other works from this series reside in the most important collections in the world: The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. 

  • Diego Giacometti, Bibliothèque de l'île Saint-Louis, executed circa 1966–69. Sold for $6.3 million.
    Speaking of Diego: the May sale offers Diego Giacometti’s striking Bibliotheque de l’île Saint-Louis, one of the most important works of the artist’s career. Measuring over ten-and-a-half feet in height and twelve feet in length, the Bibliotheque de l’île Saint-Louis is among Giacometti’s largest-scale comissions. 

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