1914-1917 The New Water Lilies
2018 SOLD for $ 85M including premium
Based in Giverny since 1883 the artist wants to create a water garden. In 1894 he purchases from Latour-Marliac plants from 32 different species including a yellow Nymphaea created in 1888 and a pink Nymphaea created in 1892. His interest in these hybrids is not immediate but his curiosity increases.
These new water lilies will become the stars of his garden. Monet paints his first Nymphéas in 1895, displaying the plants on the water in close-up with a botanical accuracy on canvases less than 1 m wide.
The artist is delighted by his garden. In 1904 the nymphéa pond becomes one of his favorite themes. The water lilies float in a cohort, bringing in conjunction with the reflections a vision of the surface of the water. In the same year he buys four other hybrids to Latour-Marliac
1914 is a terrible year. His son Jean dies in February, less than three years after Alice. International relations are desperate. Fortunately his friend Georges Clemenceau pushes him back to work by suggesting the project of the Grandes Décorations.
This new phase includes a major modification in Monet's art, the use of large formats of canvas. He looks more closely at the details of the flowers in his garden. A group of giant iris at water's edge 200 x 100 cm was sold for £ 10.8M including premium by Christie's on June 23, 2015.
On May 8 in New York, Christie's sells as lot 10 Nymphéas en fleur, oil on canvas 140 x 180 cm painted in his signature style of 1914-1917. The large size enables here a synthesis of the two visions of the artist. Nine big flowers in five groups have retrieved the details of the earliest series while the leaves and reflections are positioning the surface of the water on the whole of this image with no horizon.
#LiveLikeARockefeller: ‘The closer you get to the canvas, the more you feel like you’re inside it. The rest of the world vanishes,’ says Rebecca Wei, our President of Christie’s Asia, of the Rockefellers’ ‘Nymphéas en fleur’ by Claude #Monet.https://t.co/mT8EnKHNAN pic.twitter.com/LrOsMEJU7F— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) April 24, 2018
1913-1914 Berliner Strassenszene by Kirchner
2006 SOLD 38 M$ including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
Kirchner has to face the facts. Life in Berlin is not communal. Each individual is isolated in the crowd. At that time prostitutes were the queens of the Berlin sidewalk. They are recognizable by customers from odd signs which are not sufficient to make them intercepted by the police of morals : the high feather on the hat, the tight dresses in too bright colors.
The Strassenszene series, begun at the end of 1913 and interrupted by the war, marks Kirchner's attempt to interpret this city life which he did not want. An oil on canvas 122 x 91 cm painted in 1913 or 1914 was sold for $ 38M including premium by Christie's on November 8, 2006 over a lower estimate of $ 18M, lot 37. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
Two cocottes walk together in the middle of a dense crowd. The characters around them go in all directions, like in a whirlwind, without any interaction between them. Two men are in the foreground, not without arrogance. They are pimps or customers. In the background, the panel of the tram 15 enables to locate the scene in the heart of the big city.
This anxiety-provoking atmosphere is also perfectly transposed by Kirchner in his wood engravings. A Strassenszene with formidably unfriendly characters passed at Sotheby's on October 23, 2017. Fünf Kokotten, a grotesque interpretation of this weird fashion, was sold for CHF 920K before fees by Kornfeld on June 15, 2012.
1914 Schiele's Dead City
2011 SOLD 24.7 M£ including premium
Attracted by the morbid and the erotic, he executed in 1912 some extraordinary portraits of himself and his girlfriend Wally. The young artist was soon after returning to his dark thoughts.
He took as a major theme the small town of Krumau, in southern Bohemia, where his mother was born. Sensitive to the paradox of living today in a medieval city, he gave it the name of Tote Stadt (The Dead City).
The panorama is seen from above, an angle of view that Schiele liked even in his portraits. The houses are in close ranks, schematized like on an engraving of the Renaissance. Much later, this vestige of ancient times will be listed in the World Heritage list of the UNESCO. The river flows in the foreground or away: the Moldau.
Sometimes, bright splashes of color give a hope of happiness to the dreary cityscape. On the banks of the river, the laundry is exposed on this oil on canvas made in 1914, 100 x 120 cm, estimated £ 22M, for sale by Sotheby's in London on June 22. The picture, along with the story of the circumstances of its arrival on the market, is shared on an article by Bloomberg.
This series of paintings is very rare at auction, and is among the most important roots of modern art. Two other specimens were sold over the past decade: $ 22.5 million including premium at Christie's on November 8, 2006 (1915, 110 x 140 cm), £ 12.7 million including premium by Sotheby's on June 23, 2004 (1916, 110 x 140 cm).
POST SALE COMMENT
The price, £ 24.7M including premium, confirms the lower estimate.
1914-1917 Brancusi from Cubism to Abstraction
2009 SOLD 29 M€ including premium
The Cubist painting was developed in 1907 by Picasso in search of a representation of depth that would no longer use the perspective. At the same time, 1907-1908, the Kiss by Brancusi destructures also the forms. Two stylized head, face to face, form a cube. A simple plaster of this seminal work has been sold $ 3.6 million including expenses by Christie's in 2005.
In 1913, the shape of the Danaid is summarized by a perfect ovoid head on which two arcs draw the eyebrows and the nose. We are halfway between the figurative and the abstraction. Figurative is still dominating due to the bun and neck applied to the head egg. A small bronze 28 cm high was sold $ 18 million including expenses by Christie's in 2002.
The Brancusi from the Saint-Laurent collection, that Christie's and Pierre Bergé will sell in Paris from 23 to 25 February, is entitled Portrait de Madame LR. This wooden statue of 1.20 meter high has the global look of an African statuette. In focus, it is a geometrical construction where the figurative has almost disappeared. This work was done between 1914 and 1917. It is estimated 15 million €.
Then, the lines get longer and become pure forms. The Bird in Space of 1922-1923 is not a bird, excepted for the title of the work and the inspiration of the artist. In marble, one of those statues of 85 cm high, mounted on a stone base, has reached $ 27 million including expenses at Christie's in 2005. As Malevich, as Mondrian, Brancusi was able to free his art from any emotional aspect, to only retain shape and texture.
In 1920-1925, the work entitled Mademoiselle Pogany resumed some characteristics of the Danaid. Christie's sold a bronze $ 7 million in 1997.
POST SALE COMMENT
The Brancusi of the Saint-Laurent collection was a masterpiece, it was obvious. It was sold € 29 million including premium.
1914 Invention of the Mixed Media
2018 SOLD for $ 32M including premium
This hermetic art does not satisfy its own inventor Picasso. In 1912 he sticks real ordinary materials in a composition : ropes and oilcloth. Curiously he does not exhibit this first experience that nevertheless launches the cubist collages. Braque, Picasso himself and Gris continue this exploration of a new artistic language conducive to show the everyday surroundings of table settings and still lifes.
The collage of newspaper clippings is a basic element of the new compositions. Easy to simulate also with the brush, the piece does not break the coherence of the work. It draws the attention of the viewer who seeks some meaning to the words in the context of the image, long before the Dada and Merz revolutions. It is also a fun method to date an artwork.
From December 1913 Juan Gris is the champion of this new evolution of cubism which finally retrieves perspective and color while respecting the primary objective of assimilating the represented object and its support. In the following months Malevich reaches the most extreme abstract art : the uselessness of the image in its support is another seminal advance of modernism.
On May 8 in New York, Christie's sells as lot 2 La table de musicien, oil, gouache, pencil and collage of paper on canvas 82 x 60 cm made by Gris in May 1914.
The table is the support of the arrangement. It is shown at an angle in an aerial view. In a subtle balance the collages participate in three different ways : the newspaper on the table, the wall paper and the stylized musical staves drawn on a white paper. The perspective effect allows the drawings of bottle and violin to overlap the painted and glued areas. Transparency effects disrupt the surfaces.
Executed in the following month in a similar technique, a 46 x 27 cm artwork titled Tabac, journal et bouteille de vin rosé was sold for $ 8.8M including premium by Sotheby's on November 6, 2013.
The war stops this playful phase when Kahnweiler with whom Gris was in contract in Paris is obliged to leave for Switzerland. In the following year Gris gives up his mixed technique and returns to oil on canvas with brilliantly colored compositions that imitate his collages. Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux, 116 x 90 cm, was sold for £ 35M including premium by Christie's on February 4, 2014.
1914 The Obsession of the Tabletop
2020 SOLD for £ 12.2M including premium
Fernand Léger is obsessed with this posthumous teaching by Cézanne. To go further in modernity, he tries Cubism. In 1909 his Compotier sur table crushes the volumes in a plunging vision.
The analytical cubism of Picasso and Braque goes even further and Léger seeks something else to stand out. He finds the contrasts, by which the viewer will look in a tangle of lines, forms and colors for a reality beyond the intention of the artist. In this leap forwards, he unintentionally becomes one of the pioneers of abstract art.
In 1913 and 1914 Léger manages in parallel his series of Contrastes de Formes and the reinjection of his observations in typically Cézannian themes like the Femme en bleu and the Still lifes. The figures reappear within a big mess.
In 1914 Léger places objects on table corners : alarm clocks, coffee pots. His modernist effort resulted in a style quite similar as the early Picasso Cubism from five years earlier. It is not Léger but Gris who then gives back to still life the comfort of interpretation that the public needed.
Léger was not freed from his obsessions, however. In 1917 he painted Les Joueurs de Cartes, a reinterpretation of the Cézannian theme in a "tubiste" style.
On July 28 in London, Sotheby's sells a Nature Morte by Léger displaying various barely discernible objects on a table, oil on burlap 80 x 65 cm painted in 1914, lot 28 estimated £ 8M. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
1914-1917 Growth of the Irises
2015 SOLD for £ 10.8M including premium
He executes in a few years 250 oil paintings which are variations preparing this theme. He does not date these paintings, most of which remained unknown until his death. Yet they are highly innovative.
The mural purpose leads the artist to experiment with very large dimensions. Beyond about 200 Nymphéas included in this group, he explores new themes including the irises that grow at the edge of his pond.
On June 23 in London, Christie's sells Iris mauves, oil on canvas 200 x 100 cm painted between 1914 and 1917, lot 12 estimated £ 6M.
The tall and narrow format is unusual but perfectly suited to this portrait of wild flowers that anticipates O'Keeffe. The theme is also the pretext for a superb study of colors with these mauve flowers rising from green grass to be displayed over a background that gradually turns from blue to pink.
1914-1917 The Unlimited Pond of Claude Monet
2013 SOLD 9 M£ including premium
He has good friends. Supported by Clémenceau, he starts a new project titled Les Grandes Décorations. The idea is fabulously ahead of his time. The artwork must wrap the viewer to the point of making him forget the actual environment of the exhibition room.
The means chosen by Monet is to align the views of the pond after removing the horizon. Only remain the flowers and the reflecting of foliage in the water. He worked hard to the project from 1914 to 1917.
A large oil on canvas of this period, 130 x 200 cm, is estimated £ 12M, for sale at Sotheby's in London on February 5.
Its composition is uncommon within the suite of Monet's Nymphéas, perhaps in conjunction with his loss of depth perception. Flowers fill the foreground in only one group. The artist had accustomed to offer several groups to generate the perspective. He compensates by sprawling grass, coming from nowhere, and whose reflection extends to the flowers.
This goal to wrap the viewer in the subject will be the thread of the art of the great colourist of Abstract Expressionism, Mark Rothko, four decades later.
POST SALE COMMENT
The estimate was too high for this unusual composition. This lot has still been sold: £ 9M including premium.
I invite you to play the video shared by Sotheby's :
1914 Synthetic Trompe-l'oeil by Georges Braque
2015 SOLD for $ 8.2M including premium
The two artists create collages, which are also an excuse to try various materials beside the paper. The assembly is designed to display a figure. Georges Braque favors the still life because the model has a similar size as the artwork. The stenciled letters sketch messages.
This style has a big disadvantage. Artists are happy to open a new era that no longer depends on perspective, but the disappearance of any three-dimensional illusion is at the opposite of the original Cubist desire and cannot but disturb the viewer.
The painting imitating the collage is an attempt to overcome this issue. In the very first year, 1912, Braque mixes sand with his oil for introducing volumes. His paper constructions, all of which have disappeared, addressed the same question.
The painting of a wood grain mimics the wallpaper that mimics the real wood. Spontaneity has also vanished but the double trompe l'oeil is by itself a profound reflection on the creative act.
On November 4 in New York, Sotheby's sells Le Violon, oil and sand on canvas 91 x 60 cm painted by Braque in 1914, lot 60Testimated $ 12M. Paraphrasing Magritte, ceci n'est pas un violon.
The Synthetic Cubism was ephemeral but it paved the way for Miro whose poems-paintings will bring the dreamlike feature and the acceptance of abstraction that were missing in Braque and Picasso.
I invite you to watch the video shared by Sotheby's.
1914 The Engine of the Charlatans
2017 SOLD for $ 7.3M including premium
After a first experience in engine design for the navy, the young engineer Ernest Henry was hired by Peugeot in 1911. He joined the Charlatans team where he listened to the innovative ideas of the pilots.
Henry conceived a synthesis of two techniques : the double overhead camshaft and the four valves per cylinder. At that time the organizers of the competitions were managing to limit the volumes. The Peugeot cars equipped with the engine designed by Henry are the L76 (7.6 liters) and the L3 (3 liters) in 1912, the L56 (5.6 liters) in 1913 and the L45 (4.5 liters) in 1914. In a ultimate challenge to the traditionalists of the company this L is for Lion.
Thanks to these innovations, the Peugeots of the Charlatans have a lighter chassis and a better handling. They begin to dominate the ACF competitions in France and then the 500 miles of Indianapolis.
The Peugeot-Henry engine is so far ahead of its competitors that the organizers of Indianapolis, fearing that the war in Europe reduces the appeal of their event, commission an American manufacturer to build replicas. Through that following Peugeot is the precursor of all modern car engines.
Two of these Peugeot cars survive. On November 11 in the house sale of the Bothwell collection near Los Angeles, Bonhams sells an L45 in an authenticity which is wonderful for a car of that time. Its chassis and engine are number 1 and the bodywork is original. Thanks to a progress in the technology of the tires it was timed at 165 km/h in 1949, an unprecedented speed for a car manufactured before the First World War.
This L45 is estimated $ 3M, lot 408. It was filmed in operation by a spectator at the 2011 Goodwood Festival of Speed. This video is shared on YouTube.