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 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.
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 38/250 SSK
2004 SOLD for £ 4.2M including premium by Bonhams
1929 Portrait of a Lady in White by Frida Kahlo
2019 SOLD for $ 5.8M including premium by Christie's
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 Waiting for the Maharaja
2011 SOLD for € 2.86M including premium by Christie's
2019 SOLD for $ 2.4M including premium
The Exposition des Arts décoratifs in Paris in 1925 opens new paths for luxury. The creators amend traditional furniture with new forms, search the world for the most splendid materials and desire to confront the legendary wealth of India.
In the following year, one of the richest Hindu rulers, the Maharaja of Indore, resigns after a scandal. His son and successor, aged 18, is assisted by a regency council. While waiting to exercise his responsibilities, he travels Europe. His name is His Highness Maharajadhira Raj Rajeshwar Sawai Shri Yeshwantra II Holkar XIV Bahadur.
The young man is passionate about modernism and wants to furnish an avant-garde residence of which he entrusts the design to Eckart Muthesius. All the Parisian designers expect to be his suppliers.
At the Salon des Artistes Décorateurs in 1929, Ruhlmann exhibits an important suite of furniture under the title of Studio-Chambre du Prince Héritier d'un Vice-roi des Indes, which leaves no doubt about the identity of the targeted client. His innovations are the use of black lacquer and chrome-plated bronze, and the replacement of the base of several pieces of furniture by curved end metal bars similar to a pair of skis.
The Maharaja visits the exhibition but his advisers, Roché and Muthesius, do not rush. Among the Ruhlmann furniture in this Salon, he orders only a copy of the desk with its armchair and some bookshelves. This partial disavowal is to the delight of the president of the Artistes Décorateurs, Prime Minister André Tardieu, who buys several original pieces. The Bureau Tardieu accompanied by its armchair was sold for € 2.3M including premium by Christie's on March 29, 2011.
This furniture has been the subject of ingenious designs in terms of functionality. The chaise longue aux skis offers four possible backrest inclinations and an electric heating of the footrest. The lounge chair of the Studio-Chambre is the only complete copy of this model, so being one of Ruhlmann's rarest productions. The only other known example, incomplete, is not localized.
Ruhlmann was well informed : the young prince really needed such a chair. He chose Charlotte Perriand's model.
The Ruhlmann chaise longue aux skis was sold for € 2.86M including premium by Christie's in 2011 in the same sale as the Bureau Tardieu. Its ban of shipping outside of France was canceled in 2013. It will be sold by Sotheby's in New York on December 11, lot 26. Targeted at $ 2M in the article published by the auction house on September 26, its lower estimate is announced at $ 1.5M in the catalog.
We are honored to announce ‘Modern Masters: Chefs-D’œuvre D’une Collection Privée‘, an auction this December in #NYC that will present a superlative collection of art and design by top European masters. Learn more about two exceptional highlights: https://t.co/Ek5nDdr37h pic.twitter.com/YuIV8zT4xe— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) September 26, 2019
1929 The Luxury Vision of W.O. Bentley
2013 SOLD 2.86 M$ including premium
The choice of W.O. Bentley was to use very large engines along with the maximum length of the mechanical transmission. His 6 1/2 litre model with front engine and rear wheel drive was the perfect support for the oversized front covers of limousines, berlines and sedans.
W.O. upheld this conviction against his own officers who preferred supercharging smaller engines. He introduced in 1928 the Speed Six as the sport model of the 6 1/2 chassis. Events proved him right when the 24 hours of Le Mans were won by a Speed Six in 1929 and 1930.
On August 18 at Pebble Beach, Gooding sells a Speed Six Grafton made in 1929, coachworked in London by one of the best specialists in luxury cars, Freestone and Webb. The Grafton coupe is probably a designation specific to the catalog of this workshop.
Despite a history with significant use, this car has been carefully maintained. Far from being a time capsule, it comes with a wonderful original configuration which makes it one of the best authentic survivors of the English automobile refinement in the late 1920s. It is estimated $ 3 million.
I invite you to play the video shared by Gooding on YouTube.
POST SALE COMMENT
This interesting Bentley from a transition era was sold for $ 2.86 million including premium, not reaching its lower estimate.
1929 Functionality of the Tardieu Desk
2011 SOLD 2.3 M€ including premium
This bedroom furniture consisted of a desk, a bed and a modular bookcase, black, in chromed and lacquered metal.
This large writing desk, 2.72 m long and 1.58 deep, is designed to be functional with the addition of various equipment useful for professional work: an adjustable lamp, a wastepaper basket, drawers, a footrests, and even a bell push. It is pictured third on the article shared by Bloomberg.
This desk seduced the Prime Minister, who bought it, and it was now known as Bureau Tardieu. Other copies were made including one for the office of Ruhlmann himself. The Maharaja of Indore did make a similar desk in Macassar ebony.
Tardieu's desk was sold for $ 1.9 million including premium at Christie's on December 8, 2000. It comes again at Christie's, estimated € 2M in the sales of the collections of the Château de Gourdon which will run from March 29 to 31 in Paris.
POST SALE COMMENT
Here are three results (including premium) for Ruhlmann:
Because of its prestige, the price of the Tardieu desk, € 2.3 million, is not a surprise.
The lounge chair on skis, eagerly awaited, was sold for € 2.86 million, within its estimated range.
A "Lassalle" commode was sold for € 1.8 million, from a lower estimate of € 500K.
1929 When the Dervishes Whirled
2010 SOLD 2.55 M$ including premium
The Egyptian painter Mahmoud Said illustrated the traditional life of his country, but relied upon the trends of modern European art.
The honor of having led the artist to the auction heights is held by Christie's. A 1934 oil on panel, 89 x 117 cm, was sold U.S. $ 2.4 million including premium in Dubai on April 27, 2010. The information released to the press before the sale was so convincing that I almost discussed this work in this column, despite a trivial estimate of $ 150K.
This naive painting entitled Les Chadoufs (shadoofs) showed people busy to take water in these wells so typical of the Nile Valley. Since this auction feat, other works have shown the versatility of this outstanding artist.
Also in Dubai, on October 26, Christie's sells another oil on panel, 98 x 70 cm, painted in 1929. In a space of ritual dance, six dervishes are whirling. The date of the artwork, the movement of their robes and headdresses, assess that Said had assimilated the Cubism of Severini, Goncharova or Delaunay.
Yet he signed here a work whose subject is deeply anchored in Egyptian traditions, and we can assume that the reasonable estimate, U.S. $ 300K, will be exceeded.
POST SALE COMMENT
The Dervishes had seemed to me to have the same quality as the Shadoofs. This lot obtained an excellent result: U.S. $ 2.55 million including premium, thus proving the interest and variety of the work of Said. The market has found this year in Said a very important Egyptian artist.