1929 Confrontation with the Modern Life
2018 SOLD for $ 92M including premium
Hopper is taciturn and traditionalist. He very well appreciates that he cannot oppose these changes, just as he cannot do anything about the collapse of abandoned houses. His art is realistic but he builds his own universe like a surrealist.
Automat, painted in 1927, is a portrait of his wife Jo having a break in a self-service cafe. She is alone, pensive and a little tired, sitting in front of a round table in the back of a room without decoration.
Chop Suey, oil on canvas 81 x 96 cm painted in 1929, stages the same young woman in another cheap restaurant, seated in front of another woman who is seen from behind. Sitting at another table in the background, a couple chats.
The theme is definitely not narrative despite its appearances. We will not know who these characters are, why they are together. These Chinese cafes that then proliferate in the United States are a symbol of a new everyday life with new forms of banalities and also with the attractiveness and the threat of internationalization and depersonalization.
In new urban spaces, geometry becomes omnipresent. Chop Suey seduced the young Mark Rothko and much later influenced his division of surfaces into color fields.
Chop Suey is estimated $ 70M for sale by Christie's in New York on November 13, lot 12 B. The low resolution image is shared by Wikimedia for fair use. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
1929 Constructing the Balance
2015 SOLD for $ 50.6M including premium
In 1929, the artist manages to simplify this structure to the extreme without however reaching the ultimate outcome of the squares by Malevich. Only one vertical and one horizontal lines go from edge to edge, dividing the canvas into four nearly equal areas. The broken lines complement a square over the bottom right with divided stripes on their edges.
On May 14 in New York, Christie's sells a Composition No. III with red, blue, yellow and black, 50 x 50 cm, lot 6C estimated $ 15M, which is a prototype and perhaps the most outstanding painting using this new geometry. The deep red on the top left distracts the attention away from the non-colored central square. The other two colors along with the black and a non-color fill the narrow stripes on the bottom right of the figure.
Mondrian is happy. He presents this painting to Michel Seuphor, who is one of the first critics to actively support this new conception of abstract art, and reuses this effective geometry with other color schemes.
Painted in 1930 on a canvas of same size, Composition No. II with blue and yellow was sold for £ 12.4 million including premium by Christie's on February 4, 2014.
1929 The Two Husbands of Gala
2011 SOLD 13.5 M£ including premium
In 1929, Luis Buñuel is the master of surrealist movies. "Un Chien Andalou" is on the theme of a dream made by one of his young countrymen with an especially exalted sensitivity, Salvador Dali.
Visiting Paris at this time, Dali was very proud to attract the attention of Eluard, one of the leaders of the surrealist poetry. On the same year, Eluard and his wife will be hosted by Dali in Cadaques, a journey that will be of great importance in the history of art.
Dali makes the surrealist portrait of Eluard. This handsome young man of 34 is seen in bust, flying over a barren landscape that is already Dalinian. He is flanked and surrounded by symbols, including a small sleepy head which personifies the dream of the artist. One can spend much time looking for the real meaning of the lion head, the hollow mask, the crushed insects and the woman's hands. Dali delights in a hermetism no one else could decipher.
The portrait of Eluard by Dali, an oil on board 35 x 25 cm, is estimated £ 3.5 million, for sale by Sotheby's in London on February 10. It is illustrated in a post shared by Bloomberg.
Dali went on long walks with Helena, the wife of Eluard who gave her the muse name Gala. The artist senses that he is meeting the woman he had dreamed. Dali and Gala will live together for ever.
POST SALE COMMENT
Surrealism is in the spotlight this year in the London auctions. The portrait of Eluard is both a work dating from the spirited youth of Dali and a masterpiece combining the myths and symbols of the Dalinian universe. Despite its small size, it got an amazing result: £ 13.5 million including premium.
1929 La Musicienne by Lempicka
2018 SOLD for $ 9.1M including premium by Christie's
1929 The White Pitchers of Sanyu
2015 SOLD for HK$ 59M including premium
Encouraged by his new sponsor, Sanyu is experimenting the possibilities of artistic expression of the oil painting, which will open his eyes beyond his favorite theme of the drawings of women for fashion and in the nude.
Sanyu becomes a painter of flowers, but with a great originality in which some try to see the influence of Chinese art. The theme of his research is not only the flowers but especially the white pitcher in which they are arranged. This stylized vase disappearing before a white background or in total contrast to a black background opens a new artistic language based on the opposition of simple shapes.
The oil on canvas 73 x 50 cm for sale by Poly Auction in Hong Kong on October 5, lot 133, is dated from that first experimental year. It is highlighted in the press release announcing all the sessions of the auction.
This white pot is placed on a white surface in front of a black background. It contains some roses as flowers or buds, painted in pink. The stems and the skeletons leaves painted close to white add to the illusion that this work without perspective effect and without texture detail could almost be a radiograph.
The artist continues his creative exploration. An oil on canvas painted in 1930 in a similar size shows a colored vase but the vanishing contrasts affect the plant against its black background. This painting that had belonged to Roché was sold for € 4.1 million including premium by Aguttes on June 2, 2015.
In 1931, the white vase against a white background becomes almost invisible. It is still present but does not attract any more the attention of the viewer. The flower becomes logically the focus of the picture. A composition with two pink hydrangeas was sold by Aguttes in the same sale as above and at the same price.
Soon after, the quarrel between Sanyu and Roché marks the end of this first period of great creativity of the artist.
1928-1929 Musicien by Chagall
2007 SOLD for $ 6.9M including premium by Christie's
1929 Over the Baie des Anges
2019 SOLD for $ 6.5M including premium
He paints nudes, in a logical continuation of his activity. He likes the athletic bodies of ballerinas. On May 13 in New York, Christie's sells Nu à la fenêtre, oil on canvas 65 x 55 cm painted in 1929, lot 21A estimated $ 7M.
This image is composed as a diptych. On the right the 'grande bleue' is visible up to the horizon beyond the window and the balcony. On the left in the apartment, the young woman standing in full front is naked except for a widely opened light peignoir and a necklace. Her name is Loulou.
In this dual theme that could have been disparate, the artist achieved a beautiful balance of composition and colors, with a brilliance described as pearly which is the culmination of the long phase of his Nice nudes. He now needs something new : he will mostly devote the next four years in drawing and printing.
1929 The Bentley Boys
2012 SOLD 5 M£ including premium
The Blower Bentley 4.5 litre equipped with a supercharged engine is a technical success. This heavy single-seater with a very long chassis is fast, strong and spectacular. Its main competitors, the Bugattis, were frail and light compared to this new monster of the circuits.
Made in 1929, a prestigious example is for sale by Bonhams at Goodwood on June 29. In 1931, this car broke the lap speed record of Brooklands at 215 km/h (134 mph, as they say at Brooklands). The car was then driven by the most charismatic of the Bentley Boys, proudly wearing a military mustache, "Tiger Tim" Birkin.
I invite you to play the video shared by Bonhams, which includes extracts from silent films to remind the extraordinary speed, at that time, of this remarkable car.
POST SALE COMMENT
Announced since over six months, this racing car from another era was eagerly awaited. It was sold £ 5M including premium.
Its image is shared by Wikimedia with attribution | El Caganer / Craig Howell [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]
1929 Mercedes-Benz SSK
2004 SOLD for £ 4.2M by Bonhams
On September 3, 2004, Bonhams sold for £ 4.2M a Mercedes-Benz SSK 38/250 made in 1929, lot 144. It is fitted with a 7.1 liter engine and bodied as a two seat tourer by Carlton. It is not supercharged.
This car had been the lifelong cherished property of the British enthusiast who had acquired it in 1941. Due to the impossibility to find German spare parts in England during the war, he had joined to it in his garage a Mercedes-Benz Typ SS 38/250 from 1930.
1929 Portrait of a Lady in White by Frida Kahlo
2019 SOLD for $ 5.8M including premium by Christie's
1929 Lightweight Duesenberg Model J by Murphy
2021 SOLD for $ 5.7M by RM Sotheby's
Various leading coach builders including Murphy in California, LeBaron in New York and Derham in Philadelphia prepared open bodied cars suitable for enjoying the roads under the American sun and for being better visible by the public.
Various body types were offered by the Walter M. Murphy Company, located in Pasadena in the vicinity of Hollywood. The bodies were handcrafted and no two were exactly alike.
A 1929 Convertible coupe was sold for $ 2.53M by Morphy on October 11, 2015, lot 37. From the same year and maker, a Disappearing top convertible coupe was sold for $ 1.9M by RM Auctions on August 18, 2012, lot 229, a Dual cowl phaeton for $ 1.65M on Octoner 12, 2007, also by RM, lot 259, and a Cabriolet for € 1.04M by Artcurial on February 8, 2013, lot 381.
The pinnacle of the 1929 Model J by Murphy is the Disappearing top torpedo convertible coupe, different from the basic coupe by its tapered speedster boattail. Only two were fitted with a lightweight coachwork in polished bare aluminum.
One of them is in beautiful condition, featuring much of the original aluminum carefully restored for a maximum saving. Its chassis is original but the engine has been replaced by a period correct Duesenberg engine. It was sold for $ 5.7M from a lower estimate of $ 3.5M by RM Sotheby's on May 22, 2021, lot 156. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
1928-1929 A Road Jersey of Babe Ruth
2019 SOLD for $ 5.6M including premium
The players used two jerseys, a home jersey for the games on their field and a road jersey for trips. A jersey could be used throughout one season or more, which further increases their rarity.
Compared to the next period, documents allowing photo-matching are rarer. The experts thus pay the greatest attention to the details of making which allow an identification of the year or a range of years, rather than on the shears in the textile or on misalignments in the inscriptions.
A jersey marked 'New York' used by Babe Ruth was sold for $ 4.4M including premium by SCP on May 19, 2012 after being exhibited for many years at the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum in Baltimore. This New York Yankees road jersey was dated circa 1920.
A Spalding road jersey of size 46 attributed to Babe Ruth has just surfaced. It will be sold by Hunt Auctions on June 15 at the Yankee Stadium, lot 47. The sale is essentially devoted to a personal collection of Babe Ruth, perhaps to be correlated with the very recent death of his second daughter. Here is the link to this auction.
The 'Yankees' mark on the front side enables to date the garment between 1927 and 1930. A label inside the collar is marked 'Ruth'. A number 3 has been erased at some point while leaving some traces.
The photos of Babe Ruth in 1927 show another placement of the buttons. The photo-matching orients rather towards 1928 or 1929. It is in 1929 that the Yankees began to sew a number on the jerseys to facilitate the identification of the players by the public. Ruth had received the number 3.
UPDATE: Babe Ruth NY Yankees Jersey added to Ruth Collection Live Auction at @yankeestadium. Professional model Yankees Road Jersey Worn by the #Bambino dates to the 1928-30 era with Potential to Set World Record Pricing in Excess of $4,000,000! @NewYorkYankees #SultanofSwat @MLB pic.twitter.com/0dx9NChNR4— Hunt Auctions (@HuntAuctions) April 23, 2019
1929 Renaissance after Dada
2019 SOLD for £ 3.7M including premium
Francis Picabia broke with Dada in 1921 and with Breton in 1924. Gertrude Stein will however identify him as the archetype of the surrealist artist. He begins in 1928 his series of Transparences.
Choosing in his art books the images of antique statues and of Renaissance paintings, he copies them in intermingled line drawings. This approach pleases Duchamp who sees in it a non-stereoscopic creation of the third dimension. The title sometimes reveals the origin of the main model, for example Hera, or Adam and Eve.
On February 26 in London, Sotheby's sells Atrata, oil and pencil on panel 150 x 95 cm painted circa 1929, lot 38 estimated £ 1.5M. The composition is centered on the portrait of a man by Botticelli. The view is very blurred by the subsidiary images, except the almost horizontal alignment of four eyes that certainly delighted Duchamp. It is decoded in the video shared by the auction house.
Mélibée, oil on canvas 195 x 130 cm painted circa 1931, is an exception in this series by the unambiguous belonging of the transparent elements to a unique theme, consistent moreover with the personal difficulties of Picabia rejected successively by his wife and his mistress.
In La Celestina, Mélibée is the lover pushed to suicide by the death of her lover fallen from the ladder while passing the high wall of the garden after their sexual activity. Published in 1499 in Burgos as a dialogue, this work had many assets to please the surrealists : it is neither a novel, nor a poem, nor a play, the story is torrid, and the name of the alleged author is only revealed by the suite of initial letters in the stanzas of the prologue.
In Picabia's painting, the face copying a Madonna by Piero della Francesca remains very fair and the superposition of branches, leaves and pine needles is a reference to the garden of love. Her lover is curled up in full nudity in a corner.
Announced by gallery owners Marianne and Pierre Nahon as the preferred artwork in their collection, Mélibée is estimated € 2,5M for sale by Sotheby's in Paris on March 19, lot 10.
Transparences cannot be used to illustrate a book and the source of inspiration is too difficult to convey to the public. Mélibée appears like an ultimate achievement of this short lived style terminated by Picabia in 1933.
RESULTS including premium :
Atrata : SOLD for £ 3.7M
Mélibée : SOLD for € 3.9M
1929 Mythologies by Picabia
2020 SOLD for € 3.96M including premium
The first exhibition took place in Paris in 1928. Léonce Rosenberg, owner of L'Effort Moderne gallery, is convinced and buys for his personal use several paintings which would decorate his apartment alongside works by Léger and De Chirico.
Minos, oil, watercolor and pencil on panel 151 x 97 cm, is painted in 1929 on a specific order from Rosenberg. Minos is that king of Crete who locked up in the Labyrinth the Minotaur, one of the inspiring flagships of surrealism. The statue of Augustus as Jupiter Capitolinus is mingled with elements from the Virgin and Child with Five Angels by Botticelli. By the difference in scale, Jupiter appears like a doll whose feet are held by two Christian hands.
Minos is estimated € 2.8M for sale by Sotheby's in Paris on October 21, lot 10. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
Atrata, a panel of similar dimensions, overlays the Atlas Farnese in a portrait of a man by Botticelli. The entomological meaning of the title Atrata responds to another passion of Picabia, impossible to decode for most of his visitors. Purchased during the same period by Rosenberg, Atrata may have inspired his order for the Minos, a less hermetic reference. Atrata was sold for £ 3.7M including premium by Sotheby's on February 26, 2019 from a lower estimate of £ 1.5M.
Picabia went too far into iconoclasm, even from a surrealist viewpoint. He terminated this series of Transparences in 1933.