20th Century Furniture
Chronology : 1917 1920 1929 1936 1939 1948 1952 1968 1970 1998
1915-1917 Enfilade by Eileen Gray
2009 SOLD for € 4M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2018 before the sale of another piece by Artcurial (see below)
She opens a workshop for lacquered wood in Paris in 1910 with the specialized Japanese craftsman Seijo Sugawara. They develop together new colors. In 1913 the refinement and originality of their Japan-inspired panels are praised by fashion designer Jacques Doucet, instantly making Eileen Gray a pioneer of the Parisian Art Déco.
During the war Gray and Sugawara work in London. In the auction of the Saint-Laurent Bergé collection in February 2009, Christie's sold for € 4M including premium a highly rare lacquered enfilade cabinet made in that transition period, lot 243. At the end of the war they restart the Parisian workshop.
On November 27, 2018, a lacquered console table passed at Artcurial from a lower estimate of € 1M. It had been made before 1920 with a 124 x 39 cm top and a total length of 169 cm including the retractable side shelves. It is entirely lacquered with various colors and the lacquer of the top is inlaid with silver powder.
The only known similar table, with slightly different dimensions, was also in the Saint-Laurent Bergé collection. In its auction already referred above, it was sold for € 2.3M including premium over a lower estimate of € 1M, lot 277.
<1920 Yves Saint-Laurent in an Armchair ... made by Eileen Gray
2009 SOLD 21.9 M€ including premium
It is a seat only 61 cm high. The sitting height is normal, but the back is small. It is large (91 cm), making it a comfortable chair. The press release from Christie's describes it as a Dragon armchair, certainly for the sculptures of its armrests. For this seat dating from about 1920-1922, prepare 2.5 million €.
In the work of Eileen Gray, other seats have generated one of the most remarkable results of auctions in recent years. On June 1, 2005 in Paris, Camard sold a set of six armchairs à la Sirène, for a total of nearly 9 million € charges included. Sold separately, these six lots were eventually divided between two buyers. They had belonged to Damia, the music hall singer woman with whom Eileen had a love affair. From a very different model from the chair of the Saint-Laurent collection, their sculpture of the women fish was enhanced by an open back.
Eileen Gray was renowned for the luxurious finish of her lacquered furniture.
The sale will be held at the Grand Palais in Paris from 23 to 25 February. It is jointly organized by Christie's and Pierre Bergé et Associés.
POST SALE COMMENT
This seat had it all. We imagine it perfectly in the middle of the living room of Yves Saint-Laurent, a famous person. It may equally be regarded as a work of art or as a piece of furniture.
Christie's has presented it as one of the top lots in the sale, from the first press release last September. The estimate probably took into account the results obtained at Drouot on the armchairs à la Sirène, remembered in my article above. Cautiously, the estimate had been made a little lower (2 M €) in the catalog than in the first releases.
As I have already written, the current crisis of confidence affects the sellers, not the buyers.
The chair of Yves Saint-Laurent by Eileen Gray was sold € 21.9 million including premium.
The low resolution image below is shared by Wikimedia for fair use :
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
1936 The Luxury of Nothingness
2014 SOLD 3.7 M€ including premium
Frank is an aesthete, inspired by Proust and friend of Crevel and Cocteau. For his customers and for his own use, he creates a minimalist theme, strictly geometric. He uses any material provided that it is close to white. His inlay blends the luxury of galuchat or parchment with rougher materials such as straw or burlap.
The main role is given to the light that illuminates the matt surfaces unsoiled by the usual accessories such as handles or hinges, carefully hidden. The goal is an atmosphere of asceticism. The style of Frank has been named the Luxe du rien.
On March 11 in Paris, Sotheby's sells a cabinet with gypsum panels 109 x 75 x 22 cm estimated € 400K, lot 63 in the catalog. Probably made for his personal use, this small piece of furniture was exhibited in 1936 and now comes from the Félix Marcilhac collection. This is apparently the only identified use of gypsum in a cabinet by Jean-Michel Frank.
The art of Frank was adapted to the demands of the aesthetes of the time of his youth. Times change and he fails to follow. He committed suicide in 1941 at age 46. One of his former collaborators was to become one of the most famous artists : Alberto Giacometti.
His work was forgotten until 1963 and his minimalism could not have inspired Klein or Fontana. It must be looked beyond : the atmosphere of the creations of Jean-Michel Frank anticipates the quests by Judd on the use of light.
POST SALE COMMENT
The gypsum cabinet is an amazing example of the original features in the art of Jean-Michel Frank. It was sold for € 3.7 million including premium.
Here are some results for shagreen furniture by the same designer: € 750K including premium on a pair of armchairs circa 1928, 375K including premium for a coiffeuse circa 1925.
1937 Enfilade by Printz and Dunand
2019 SOLD for $ 5.5M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
Their skills are complementary and their fruitful collaboration lasts from 1928 until the death of Dunand in 1942. Their joint production consists mainly of sideboards : buffets, enfilades, bahuts. The style meets the canons of Art Déco : geometric simplicity of forms, beauty of surfaces.
A cabinet 125 x 160 x 30 cm made in 1930-1931 by Printz and Dunand was sold for € 1,26M including premium by Christie's on November 27, 2007, lot 331.
A cabinet in enfilade 93 x 200 x 44 cm made circa 1937 was sold on June 4, 2019 for $ 5.5M including premium by Christie's, lot 43. This enfilade had been kept by Printz for his own collection. It is indeed a superb example of the later period of the French Art Déco.
Its rectangular cabinet in palmwood is perfectly balanced, altogether low and shallow to provide a sense of lightness. Its suite of ten doors cover the whole height of the façade, with no visible structure or handle.
It is also exceptional by the full covering of all the door panels in a dinanderie of various patterns on angled metal leaves, suggesting the folds of a Japanese screen. These fragile elements have been kept in an excellent condition.
1939 The Goodyear Table by Noguchi
2014 SOLD for $ 4.45M including premium by Phillips
narrated in 2020
In 1939 he executes two projects for sculptures to serve as monumental fountains, which remain little appreciated. The quality of his work however attracts the attention of A. Conger Goodyear, the president of MoMA, who orders him a table to match his living room.
Noguchi had never created furniture. The Goodyear table is therefore his masterpiece in the etymological sense of the wording. He interlocks two pieces in rosewood carved with somewhat biomorphic abstract curves, on which he places a glass top.
The Goodyear table, 73 x 210 x 87 cm, has retained its original glass. It was sold on December 16, 2014 by Phillips for $ 4.45M including premium over a lower estimate of $ 2M, lot 12.
The end of the war allowed to start new projects. In 1948 the Herman Miller company edited the Noguchi table, a 40 x 127 x 91 cm coffee table directly inspired by the Goodyear table. The base is now made up of two identical elements in opposite positions. The success is considerable : the Noguchi table has been in the Herman Miller catalog for 72 years, with only two interruptions between 1973 and 1984.
1948-1949 Noguchi, Sculptor of Tables
2012 SOLD 2.9 M$ including premium
Noguchi was also a precursor of utilitarian sculpture. Too far ahead of his time, he first had trouble developing his projects for park decorations. Fortunately, in 1947, the agreement with the U.S. company Herman Miller, design specialist, brings him a considerable and sustainable success.
Herman Miller publishes several coffee tables of Noguchi. The most popular type, of free shape with a wooden base and a glass top, will be produced along several decades. Other materials are also available. An early copy of IN-62 model, 68 cm high, was sold $ 630K including premium by Wright on December 6, 2005. It is made of marble, birch wood and steel.
Apart from his association with Herman Miller, Noguchi exploits this new industry by making abstract sculptures-tables on request. He remembers that his preferred material is stone.
Made in 1948-1949, a luxurious and unique specimen made in marble is estimated $ 800K, for sale by Christie's in New York on June 14. This table measures 34 cm high with an oval top 125 cm wide.
I invite you to play the video shared by Christie's.
POST SALE COMMENT
This table made by a sculptor could well be sold for the price of a sculpture. The result, $ 2.9 million including premium, is excellent.
1952 The Primordial Chandelier
2018 SOLD for £ 7.6M including premium
For their friends the Giacometti brothers also remain the pre-war decorators who created models of furnishing for Frank. Diego continues in this specialty and Alberto still accepts some private orders. A plaster chandelier with geometric figures made by Alberto in 1954 for the Tériade apartment was sold for £ 2.05M including premium by Phillips on April 26, 2017.
Louis Broder was a Swiss publisher. For his Paris apartment he commissioned in 1948 to Alberto a chandelier adorned with his new characters. The original plaster, 60 cm high and 136 cm in diameter, was supplied in 1949 or 1950 to Broder and donated in 1983 by Berggruen to the Centre Pompidou.
This private work is an interesting synthesis of Giacometti's metaphysics. The central position is a gloriette in which the Femme debout opens her arms, holding two side columns as if she was ready to go out for discovering the world. She has the main role, superseding the ephemeral Homme au doigt.
The Homme qui marche starts away from the cage in a centrifugal force that ignores the existence of the woman. Smaller than her, he does not have the importance he would like to have. The trinity is completed on the other side by a bird. The four lights are installed in crocus flowers.
In 1952 Alberto made three bronzes of this chandelier, also for Broder. One of them is estimated £ 6M for sale by Sotheby's in London on February 28, lot 4.
1966-1969 Bibliothèque by Diego Giacometti
2017 SOLD for $ 6.3M including premium by Sotheby's
1969 Hippopotamus Bathtub by François-Xavier Lalanne
2019 SOLD for $ 4.3M including premium by Christie's
1969 Installation of Young Women at Home
2013 SOLD 2.17 M£ including premium
The British artist Allen Jones, aged 32, realizes a set of three anthropomorphic elements which is the masterpiece of pop furniture. Attractive and undressed young women sculpted in resin and painted fiberglass form the structure of these three pieces.
Jones's work has inspired Stanley Kubrick in A Clockwork Orange in 1971, the famous nightmare movie demonstrating that it is now impossible to curb the instincts of youth.
The archetypal playboy Gunter Sachs, who was the husband of Bardot, had one of the six copies of this set. In the sale of his collection at Sotheby's on May 22, 2012, it was divided into three lots, each one estimated £ 30K, which generated the great surprise of the sale.
The table, whose top is placed on the back of the woman, was sold £ 970K. The chair whose back consists of two upward legs terminated by stiletto heels, was sold £ 840K, and the welcoming hatstand with thigh-high boots, 780K. These prices include premium.
On February 13 in London, Christie's sells a complete set estimated £ 1.5 million, fortunately as a single lot to preserve to this copy its feature as an art installation. Here is the link to the catalog.
POST SALE COMMENT
Curiously, the price of the set, £ 2.17 million including premium, is less than the result obtained last year by Sotheby's after separating the three pieces. The Gunter Sachs provenance and the surprise have certainly played for Sotheby's.
1970 Bar aux Autruches by François-Xavier Lalanne
2017 SOLD for € 6.2M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
Georges Pompidou was a great sponsor of contemporary art. His accession to the presidency of the French Republic in 1969 encouraged new projects.
In 1970 Lalanne edits two very prestigious bars using the new ultra-white porcelain. The Grasshopper Bar, 175 cm long, is produced in two copies only. One was offered by President Pompidou to Queen Elizabeth II in 1972. The other was sold for $ 1.64M including premium by Sotheby's on May 24, 2018.
The Bar aux Autruches, 194 cm long overall, is much original in its design. The tray is held on each side in the beak of an ostrich. The standing birds turn their backs each other for the balance. The folding wings open laterally on a bottle rack. The tray is centered with a removable ice bucket in the shape of an egg. The ostriches are dated 1967 and bear the mark of the Manufacture de Sèvres.
The Ostrich bar was assembled in six units. One of them is exhibited in the permanent collections of the Musée de Sèvres and another one was deposited at the Palais de l'Elysée at the request of Pompidou. Another copy was sold for € 6.2M including premium by Sotheby's on November 21, 2017 over a lower estimate of € 700K, lot 40.
1976 A Flock of Seats in a Barn
2012 SOLD 5.7 M$ including premium
He designed a small bench in wood and aluminum, covered with wool, with four feet. All furniture manufacturers run their models in multiple copies: Lalanne standardizes the quantity to 24. Thus was born his flock of life size sheep, worthy of the best ideas of surrealism but in an extreme simplicity of interpretation.
The set is funny. Sheep are actually in two models: with head held high, and headless. This is a clear invitation to leave the pieces together : headless animals are considered occupied to graze within the group, protected by the external figures.
The owner of a herd gets a modifiable furniture of wide area and high friendliness where guests can sit, lie, hang their hat.
On November 14 in New York at Christie's, a flock of 24 seats is estimated $ 4M, in the evening sale of post-war and contemporary art. Here is the link to the catalog.
This set had been purchased in 1976 by an American couple to fill a barn. These clients have devised a clever refinement: one sheep, and only one, is in black wool, to anticipate the case where a guest would like to be on his own!
POST SALE COMMENT
This lot is certainly one of the most complete sets of Lalanne sheep: $ 5.7 million including premium.
1980 Diego in the Style of Alberto
2017 SOLD for € 4.2M including premium
The war separates them temporarily. At that moment their art takes very different directions. While Alberto expresses existentialism by relying on surrealism, Diego does not leave decoration and realism. He meets the desires of his customers with his nice and humorous themes where animal figures come to perch on the struts or to huddle in the table legs.
Circa 1978, twelve years after the death of Alberto, Diego designs and executes for a customer a bronze table in the shape of a regular octagon 170 cm wide. The top is carried by eight legs in front of which the artist dispositions in the extension of each horizontal bar a standing figure in the threadlike style of Alberto.
This late synthesis of the art of the Giacometti brothers is scarce and unexpected. The table was sold for $ 3.8M including premium by Sotheby's on November 15, 2016 over a lower estimate of $ 300K.
In 1970 Hubert de Givenchy is seduced by the simple and effective creations by Diego with which he will populate his manor. The collection of the works executed by Diego for Givenchy is dispersed by Christie's in Paris on March 6.
This set includes three examples in bronze and wood of the octagonal table "aux caryatides et atlantes". A table 162 cm in diameter made circa 1980 is estimated € 600K, lot 16. Two tables 190 cm in diameter were made circa 1983. Each of them is estimated € 800K, lot 7 and lot 11.
RESULTS INCLUDING PREMIUM
Lot 16 (1980) : € 4.2M
Lot 7 (1983) : € 3.8M
Lot 11 (1983) : € 3.3M
1990 A Social Breakthrough in a Lounge
2015 SOLD for £ 2.43M including premium
Australians love surfing. Newson appreciates that the manufacturing techniques of the surfboards may be used for more complex and modern structures. The shape is achieved by covering the foam with fiberglass. Then comes the finish.
The sculptor Newson wishes a metallic finish. After various tests in his garden in Sydney, he manages to keep the convex and concave curves of the cast by hammering sheets of aluminum joined by many blind rivets. The texture is similar to an aircraft fuselage. The new model in 1988 is named Lockheed lounge without the involvement of that industrial company.
The Lockheed Lounge is abstract art applied to furniture, with unprecedented materials and techniques. In 1990, ten units plus four artist's proofs are edited, bringing their figure to a final fifteen.
We do not sit on a Lockheed lounge but may recline on it for a social activity. The new Madame Récamier is the entertainer Madonna. A Lockheed Lounge appears sporadically in 1993 in the video Rain, a song from her highly successful Erotica album. Newson's chair becomes an icon of contemporary lifestyle.
The 1988 prototype was sold for $ 2.1 million including premium by Phillips on May 13, 2010. The 10/10 unit from the 1990 edition is estimated £ 1.5M, for sale by the same auction house on April 28 in London, lot 226.
1991 Rhino and Chou
2019 SOLD for € 5.4M including premium
Their conceptions and their product lines are complementary. François-Xavier maintains the functionality of his models of furniture even when they are zoomorphic. Claude creates decorative objects for the living room or the garden with an unlimited imagination. They will sign their works jointly from 1966 : Les Lalanne.
In that seminal exhibition, the two flagship pieces were François-Xavier's Rhinocrétaire and Claude's Choupatte. Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint-Laurent were enthusiastic about the Rhinocrétaire.
Throughout their long career, les Lalanne accumulate new subjects without interrupting the old themes. On 23 and 24 October in Paris, Sotheby's sells the works that they were keeping in their home and studio near Fontainebleau.
The lot 13 estimated € 700K is a Rhinocrétaire 2.55 m long in welded metal. Opening a fall front of the beast unfolds the desk. This unique piece made in 1991 was certainly assembled for the personal use of the artist. Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's in the tweet.
The lot 33 estimated € 150K is a Choupatte (Très Grand) 117 x 135 cm from an edition of 8 made in 2012 in patinated bronze. A unique piece of only 37 cm dated 1988 was sold for € 610K including premium by Sotheby's on May 28, 2019 over a lower estimate of € 70K.
RESULTS including premium :
Rhinocrétaire SOLD for € 5.4M
Choupatte SOLD for € 2.17M
1998 In the Privacy of Tracey Emin
2014 SOLD 2.55 M£ including premium
Her first major work, in 1997, is titled Everyone I have ever slept with. The viewer must get inside a tent to discover the names of her bedfellows, including those of her infancy which obviously do not have a sexual connotation. The ambiguity of the message regarding her relationships generated the success of that work which was destroyed by an accidental fire in 2004.
In 1998, Tracey lived several days of suicidal depression after a disappointment in love. Waking up dazed after the fourth day, she observes the condition of total mess of her bed. She decides that the unmade bed reflecting her intense emotion is a work of art and brings around the furniture many orgiastic, sexual and intimate garbage from her four morbid days.
My Bed is estimated £ 800K, for sale by Christie's in London on July 1, lot 19.
Tracey Emin is a versatile artist, using alternately materials as diverse as neon, photography or textile. She is lucky to be British : London is the best place in the world to support a true artist beyond scandal. Member of the Royal Academy of Arts, she is the second woman in two and a half centuries to have become a professor in this institution.
POST SALE COMMENT
This installation has the great merit of being completely out of the traditional artistic language. It was sold for £ 2.55 million including premium.