Picasso, Kandinsky and Giacometti Artworks for Impressionist & Modern Art Auction

. October 22, 2008

NEW YORK, NY – On November 6, Christie’s New York Fall Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale will follow the November 5 sale of The Modern Age, enticing the international collecting community with exceptional pictures and sculptures from seminal masters. Primarily from a number of private collections
and many never seen before at market, the sale of 85 lots is expected to realize in excess of $250 million, with leading artists including Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky, Alberto Giacometti, Henri Matisse, Juan Gris and Gustav Caillebotte.

The sale will be led by Pablo Picasso’s outstanding Deux personnages (Marie-Thérèse et sa soeur lisant), 1934, (estimate: $18-25 million). Making its first appearance at auction, this important painting is Picasso’s culminating work in a series of six paintings portraying Picasso’s mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter, and her sister together reading a book in front of an open window. Deux personages shows Picasso in a surrealist idiom informed by the sinuous lines, biomorphic elements and springtime colors associated with Marie-Thérèse. She helped inspire and rejuvenate Picasso and brought a youthful and passionate quality to the portrait.

The sale’s cover lot, also never seen at auction, is an extremely rare and gloriously strident Expressionist masterpiece by Wassily Kandinsky, Studie zu
Improvisation 3, 1909 (estimate: $15-20 million). Infused with mysticism, it offers Kandinsky’s distinct version of painterly modernism. Kandinsky’s inspiration for the Improvisation series stemmed from the discovery of the idyllic village of Murnau, a town south of Munich. He admired glass paintings and other folk art of the region and Marnau became a retreat where he could reflect and take stock of his ideas and his work. This landscape, in its original painted frame, is in pristine condition and hails from the illustrious collection of textile industrialist Hermann Lange, who owned it for several decades before passing it onto the family where it has remained ever since.

Following the spectacular prices achieved for Alberto Giacometti over recent seasons including the world auction record set in May for Grande femme debout II realizing $27,481,000 at Christie’s New York, another fine example from the master’s prime Post-War period, Trois Hommes qui marchent I, will be offered (estimate: $14-18 million). Conceived in 1948 and cast in 1950, the three male figures express one of the central themes of the artist’s work during this period: the memories of marching soldiers or harried refugees he saw in wartime newsreels.

Another early leading work is Juan Gris’s symphonic Livre, pipe et verre, 1915 (estimate: $12.5-18.5 million), steeped in Picasso’s influence but also representative of the younger artist’s distinctive voice. The painting showcases Gris’s exploration of contrasting objects by highlighting them in white against a dark tonality resembling a photographic negative. Furthermore, he experimented with the layering of planes and started working with rich and varied colors, giving up on the limited tonalities of his earlier collages. Livre, verre et pipe is a prime example, showing why Gris is often referred to as Cubism’s most exquisite colorist.

The auction also features Nu au feuillage vert, fond noir, 1936, painted by Henri Matisse (estimate: $12-18 million). “I do Odalisques in order to do nudes,” Matisse declared in 1929. The painting portrays a nude Lydia Delectorskaya, his young Russian-born assistant and muse. Throughout the week, Matisse dictated to Lydia some notes, which she carefully recorded and photographed the painting once each day. These invaluable photographs document the crucial moments when Matisse was taking decisive steps that would bring the picture to its conclusion. It is a rare event to have the opportunity to witness the conception and progression of this important modern painting.

Last season in New York, Claude Monet’s Le Pont du chemin de fer à Argenteuil, 1873, realized $41.5 million, making it a world auction record for the artist. This record was to be broken just six weeks later with Monet’s Le bassin aux nymphéas, which realized $80.5 million at Christie’s London. This season, Christie’s is offering another view of the bridge this time by Gustave Caillebotte’s Le pont d’Argenteuil, et la Seine, 1883, (estimate: $8-12 million); however, it is anything but traditional. Rather than depicting the entire structure from a distance, Caillebotte drew in close to the Argenteuil road bridge, concentrating on a single span, which slices across the canvas at a slight angle. Le pont d’Argenteuil, et la Seine reflects the artist’s interest in the landscapes and views of Argenteuil and Caillebotte’s characteric use of intense range of blues.

The sale will also feature a strong group of eight sculptures by Henry Moore. Leading the group is the black marble Arch Form (estimate: $5.5-7.5 million) and the bronze Reclining Figure: External Form (estimate: $4.5-6 million). Arch Form, executed in 1970, is the largest, most drastically pared down stone sculpture that Moore ever carved in a minimalist style. This uniquely carved, black marble shape is asymmetrical, rendering an organic expression that can be seen as a root or a log blackened by fire, or a prehistoric bone fossilized over time. Reclining Figure: External Form, conceived in 1953- 1954 and cast in 1957, is the artist’s proof, and formerly owned by his daughter Mary. It is the only example of the seven casts that remains in private hands.

Other highlights of the Evening Sale are Paul Cézanne’s Le pont et le barrage à Pontoise (estimate: $7-10 million), a beautiful landscape that hallmarks Cézanne’s mature work; Claude Monet’s Vétheuil au soleil (estimate: $5.5-7 million), a sun-filled painting that embraces nature; and Henri Matisse’s Deux masques (La tomate) (estimate: $5-7 million), a collage on paper making its first appearance at auction.

Category: Auction News

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