1925 Twelve Landscapes by Qi Baishi
2017 SOLD for RMB 930M including premium by Poly
narrated in 2020
Born in Hunan province into a family of poor peasants, Qi Baishi was self-taught. Settled in Beijing at the age of 53 in 1917, he drew inspiration from Bada Shanren to develop a vigorous and spontaneous line, reaching poetry through a free realism. His greatest innovation is the use of inks in very bright colors.
His themes are varied while being ordinary and peaceful : landscapes, trees, countless small things. He paints according to his own observations, is not interested in symbols and allegories and does not follow Bada Shanren in the rebellion. Far away from politics, he will never be threatened.
On December 17, 2017, Poly sold in Beijing for RMB 930M including premium, worth US $ 144M at that time, a monumental suite of twelve screens 180 x 47 cm each. They were painted by Qi in 1925 in light blue, gray, brown and pink on the theme of mountains, villages and blossoming trees.
This result rewards a major work from the seminal period of modern Chinese art of which Qi was one of the greatest influencers. It is to date (2020) the highest price recorded at auction outside New York and the highest price for Chinese art.
The twelve panels are illustrated side by side in the CTV News article announcing their display at the Poly Culture Art Center in Vancouver in October 2017 with an estimate of US $ 100M.
There is only one other similar set by Qi. Painted in 1932, it is kept in a museum in Chongqing.
1925 Miro's Hallucinations
2012 SOLD 17 M£ including premium
Indeed, the artist has lost interest in realism and is exploring the dream and the subconscious. Miro's approach is deeply original and will be recognized as such by Picasso. He is the first surrealist to transcend the boundaries between poetry and painting.
The literary and artistic expression must be free from conventions, but not indispensably spontaneous. The words of the poem escape without building a usual phrase. The language of the image, close to abstraction, invites for multiple interpretations.
If the poem deals with the female body, for example, the observer led on by the erotic force of the words will look for some marks, and find and lose. Those two spots of color : are they the breasts or are they the eyes?
Miro is no longer interested in reality. His themes are inspired by other poems or songs. On February 7 in London, Christie's sells "le corps de ma brune", estimated £ 6M. So amazing for its time, this oil on canvas made in 1925, 130 x 96 cm, is superimposing text and colors. The layout of the words is free, like in a poem of Apollinaire. Here is the link to the catalog.
This painting provides the key to all the later work, so often hermetic but always dreamlike, of Miro. When the letters will disappear from the field, the title will provide the link between the image and its multiple interpretations.
POST SALE COMMENT
This is one of the most outstanding and rarest works of early Surrealism. It was sold for £ 17M including premium.
1925 Miro walking into Pataphysics
2012 SOLD 13.7 M$ including premium
Surrealism is just born but pataphysics, that parody of metaphysics and of all serious systems, had been started in 1898 by Alfred Jarry with his calculation of the area of God.
Miro wants to push his work into a new semiotic and manages to attract the admiration of Breton. He is young and single, and when walking in the streets of Paris he seeks to decipher the mystery of the woman.
On November 7 in New York, Christie's sells an oil on canvas, 92 x 73 cm, entitled Peinture (femme, journal, chien), estimated $ 12M. At that time, the title is of considerable importance in the art of Miro. In the first reading of this work, the image and the word are matching.
It is a painting, of course. The woman is a silhouette in bodice and skirt, the other elements are stylized including an absurd hat and the head replaced by a red heart that reflects the desires of the artist. She is walking the dog and waving the newspaper, a trapezoid whose text is limited to three letters, JOU, common start for JOUrnal (newspaper) and JOUeur (player).
The first owner of this painting was Raymond Queneau, who will be the most important pataphysician and a great shaker of the French language. Aged 22 in 1925, he was already frequenting the circle of the Surrealists. Finding a meaning to the mysterious JOU and to the symbolism of the heart-head certainly amazed him.
I invite you to play the video shared by Christie's.
POST SALE COMMENT
Good price for this nice painting that well demonstrates the intellectual brainstorms of its time: $ 13.7 million including premium.
1925 Chaim Soutine, the Secret Painter
2012 SOLD 9.4 M$ including premium
He listened only to his inspiration exacerbated by his stomach ulcer, and his themes are new. Yet he had a predecessor: Modigliani, another Jew in Paris, his drinking companion in Montparnasse, who died in 1920.
The portraits by Modigliani show anonymous characters from chance encounters. The beauty of the line and the balance of the composition make them masterpieces. Soutine too shows half-length figures, adding the extreme violence of the colors and the extreme hardness of the line.
On his arrival in Paris, Soutine had a job of luggage carrier at Montparnasse railway station. He took as subjects of his portraits the petty employees of hotels or restaurants, these people who help wealthy customers but are never considered by anyone.
Le Chasseur de chez Maxim's (Maxim's Groom), oil on canvas 82 x 75 cm made circa 1925, was sold for $ 6.7 million including premium on 4 November 2004 at Sotheby's. Here is the link to this result in the Artvalue database.
This painting comes again for sale in the estate of the purchaser of that time. It is now estimated $ 10M, for sale on May 2 by Sotheby's in New York. Since 2004, the art market was becoming aware of the exceptional expressive interest and of the rarity of the best works by Soutine.
POST SALE COMMENT
The result, $ 9.4 million including premium, does not reach the estimate but is still extremely interesting. Sotheby's had rightly hoped a significant gain on this painting since 2004.The emotionally charged artworks are becoming better appreciated in the market.
1925 The Supremacy of Colors
2019 SOLD for £ 4.9M including premium
Ivan Kliun met Malevich in 1907. Around 1914, he painted Cubo-Futurist works, bringing bright colors to the analytical Cubist style of Braque and Picasso. He is one of the first Suprematist artists, participating in Petrograd in 1915 at the 0,10 exhibition where Malevich unveils his Black Square.
A painting is no longer a representation of nature but an autonomous object. Suprematists promote the simulation of movement through forms and colors, with a total deletion of perspective.
In 1921 Kliun reintroduces the light. His art remains non-objective but he uses in his new research the projection of spheres on the surface, revealing the reflections. Malevich states that this new approach is a step backwards. In 1932 the Soviet government put an end to Suprematism by banning abstract art.
Very few major works by Kliun have survived. On November 26 in London, Sotheby's sells an oil on board 102 x 70 cm, lot 51 estimated £ 2.5M. The source of light is shown at the upper left corner. Typical of the Spherical Suprematism, it is probably one of the three examples of this variant of Suprematism that were exhibited in Moscow in 1925. The tweet shows a detail.
A friend of Malevich and pioneer of non-objective art, #IvanKliun was a leading light of the Russian avant-garde. Take a closer look at Spherical Suprematism, the most important work by the artist ever to appear at auction. #sothebysrussian https://t.co/FM9FCSFvFC— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) November 19, 2019
1925 Bugatti for a Ziegfeld Girl
2017 SOLD for $ 3.3M including premium
From a technological point of view the 35 offers a very light chassis and a streamlined body that is also simple and elegant. Its decisive advance compared to its competitors in endurance racing is the brake system specially designed to resist wear. In the opposite the weakness of the tires impairs the competition record.
The Bugatti Type 35 is a great commercial success. By supplying its wealthy customers with cars of the same performance as the factory engaged cars, Bugatti is a pioneer of the sports car. The 35 is a two-seater car in accordance with the regulations applicable to the Grand Prix of that period.
During the first year the brand produced only 16 Bugatti Type 35. In 1925 production accelerated.
A Bugatti 35 of the initial variant, sometimes identified as Bugatti 35 Lyon, was bought in 1925 in Paris by a wealthy American during his honeymoon with a former dancer from the Ziegfeld Follies. The car was used in competition by him with parsimony.
After more than 90 years, this Bugatti still has only three owners from new. Its originality and its condition are sensational for a car of that time. It is estimated $ 2.6M for sale by Gooding in Scottsdale on January 20, lot 022. Here is the link to the press release.
1925 First Trip to the Rocky Mountains
2017 SOLD for $ 3M CAD including premium
The method for recording the view is classic : Harris makes sketches in pencil during his trips. Back in his studio he observes the geometric principles in his own panoramas and highlights them in bright colors.
On November 22 in Toronto, Heffel sells a view of partially snow-capped mountains over Maligne Lake in the province of Alberta. The immaculate snow draws the eye towards the upper part and reveals the tectonic folds difficult to observe in the dark of the rest of the image.
Dated 1925 this oil on canvas 103 x 133 cm was exhibited in 1926 in a Toronto gallery. Disparagers question whether the artist wants to display a dehumanized landscape or an umbrella.
Encouraged by these protests, Harris goes even further. He paints in the same year his masterpiece simply titled Mountain Form. The size 152 x 178 cm is even larger and the geometric beauty of the mountain is enhanced by the removal of secondary reliefs. This oil on canvas was sold for $ 11.2M CAD including premium by Heffel on November 23, 2016.
Let us go back to the Maligne Lake Mountains for the next sale. The oil on canvas is estimated $ 2.5M CAD, lot 118. It is illustrated in the press release announcing the sale. The next lot in that sale, 119, is its 11.4 x 19.7 cm graphite sketch estimated $ 8K CAD.
RESULTS INCLUDING PREMIUM :
Painting SOLD for $ 3M CAD
Sketch SOLD for $ 7.5K CAD
1925 Mughal Emeralds
2019 SOLD for $ 1.8M including premium
For Islam, green is the color of Paradise. The emerald is imported from Colombia through Goa. Around 1610 CE a British traveler estimates at more than 500,000 carats the weight of unmounted emeralds waiting at Agra in the imperial vaults. Emerald carving is a Mughal specialty with two main themes, the Qur'anic inscription and the floral motif. It is used as an amulet.
Known as the Mogul Mughal, an emerald weighing 217.80 carats inscribed with a prayer and dated 1107 AH, during the reign of Aurangzeb, was sold for £ 1.54M including premium by Christie's on September 27, 2001. The reverse is engraved with leaves and flowers.
Christie's auction in New York on June 19 includes several examples of carved emeralds.
The best of these gems in terms of purity, color and saturation weighs 84.63 carats. It is decorated with a radiant vegetal motif amidst two concentric polylobed figures. It is estimated $ 3M, lot 283.
Lot 388, estimated $ 1.5M, was the central piece of the Collier Bérénice exhibited in 1925 by Cartier at the Exposition des Arts Décoratifs. Unsold, the necklace has been dismantled. The emerald named the Taj Mahal by Cartier was later assembled in a brooch by this jeweler. It was sold for $ 800K including premium by Christie's on October 21, 2009. It is hexagonal with a floral ornament and weighs 141.13 carats.
Lot 340, estimated $ 500K, was inscribed in the name of Shah Jahan in the 1620s before his accession to the throne. This cabochon emerald weighs 30.60 carats.
The Mughals also engraved diamonds. On December 13, 2011 in the auction of Elizabeth Taylor's collection, Christie's sold for $ 8.8M including premium over a lower estimate of $ 300K a necklace assembled by Cartier in 1972 for the 40th birthday of the actress. It is centered on a heart-shaped diamond inscribed in 1037 AH (1627-1628 CE) in the name of Shah Jahan's favorite wife for whom this emperor will later build the most sumptuous mausoleum, the Taj Mahal.
Lot 388 (Cartier 1925) SOLD for $ 1.8M including premium
Lot 340 SOLD for $ 560K including premium
Lot 283 unsold
1925 Fotogramm (Hands) by Moholy-Nagy
2012 SOLD for $ 1.48M including premium by Sotheby's
1925 The Irish Market
2011 SOLD 1 M€ (before fees ?)
Just after independence, the Yeats brothers greatly honored the Irish Free State on the international scene. In 1923,William was the first Irishman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. In 1924, his younger brother Jack is the first Irishman to win an Olympic medal, a silver medal in the painting competition.
A market scene in the county of Mayo, at the extreme northwest of the island, was painted by Jack B. Yeats in 1925.
The nervous line of Yeats makes his art close to the expressionists, especially Kokoschka. However the intense and active life of this painting rather appeals a post-Cubist influence.
The urban setting is barely sketched, but we are actually in the middle of one of these huge fair spaces of Ireland. The colorful characters are Irish peasants, certainly.
This success in recreating a local atmosphere inspired De Valera, who got the painting in loan. With such a recommendation of the most famous of the Irish statesmen, this oil on canvas, 61 x 91 cm, can climb to the rank of a masterpiece of modern Irish art. It is illustrated in the article shared by The Irish Times.
It is estimated € 500K, to be sold by Adam's in Dublin on September 28.
POST SALE COMMENT
The auction house has just announced on Twitter that the painting was sold € 1M to a private Irish collector.
I guess that it is the hammer price.
1925 The Strident Countryside of Emil Nolde
2010 SOLD 1.04 M€ including premium
In contact with German art movements, often regarded himself as an expressionist, Emil Nolde managed to maintain his independence. His vision as a colorist made him one of the most original figurative artists of his time.
His colors are realistic, but their brilliance is pushed to the extreme. The yellows are really shrill. When he shows wildflowers in close-ups or a country landscape, he is literally attacking the scenery with a fierce light which is made dramatic by heavy cloud formations.
These topics could be romantic, but Nolde goes further. The contrast of colors and the use of a thick material take preeminence over form, making this artist a real precursor of the abstract colorists.
On November 26 in Berlin, Grisebach sells a landscape view by Nolde, estimated € 1M. On this oil on canvas, 73 x 88 cm, dated 1925, the sun rays pierce at random, dramatically illuminating the edge of a storm cloud and the narrow front side of the river that runs through the country.
POST SALE COMMENT
Good price, € 1.04 million including premium, for this expressive landscape which does not, however, reach the lower estimate.
1925-1926 Simple Betrayal
2019 SOLD for € 850K including premium
Attentive to avant-garde art, Magritte is subjugated in 1923 by an image of the Canto d'amore, a surrealist work painted in 1914 by De Chirico. Ordinary objects constitute a poetic universe if their positioning is absurd.
On March 29 in Paris, Sotheby's sells La salle d'armes, oil and industrial painting on jute canvas 78 x 63 cm painted by Magritte in 1925 or 1926, lot 411 estimated € 700K.
The room proper is the interior of an elongated cube, totally symmetrical with perfect perspective lines. The only decoration is the large target in four concentric rings on the back wall. The only furniture is a coffee table. The X-ray inspection reveals that La salle d'armes had overpainted a geometric abstraction, a style that no longer suits Magritte's fancy.
No gun or arrow is visible but a heap of figs lies on the table. The absurd dimension is very simply ensured by the bust of a woman that hangs upside down from the ceiling and whose base overflows the upper stripe of the false frame. In the surrealist world of De Chirico, the marble bust was symbolizing the actuality of antiquity.
From 1926 Magritte observes that an image of an object remains an image and is not the object. He begins to confront the drawing of his pipe with the word 'pipe' or with an abstraction. In 1929 La trahison des images is an artistic manifesto of a sublime simplicity, in just six words: "Ceci n'est pas une pipe."
In the same period Miro also was appreciating that the new poetic dimension of modern art was a personal work that could not be attached to a movement and even less to a political affiliation.