Flash News: A masterpiece by Max Beckmann – Art / Afrique in Paris

[02 Jun 2017]

A masterpiece by Max Beckmann

Bird’s Hell is a rare work, considered as one of the most beautiful and powerful paintings Max BECKMANN (1884-1950) created during his exile. This masterpiece, begun in Amsterdam and completed in Paris, offers a heart-rending vision, a real descent into hell, where monstrous birds of ill omen torture humans and lacerate their skin. Beckmann began this anti-Nazi fresco in 1938 as a pictorial pamphlet against oppression and terror. During this terrible period in history, a few months before Bird’s Hellwas completed, Pablo Picasso had finished his famous Guernica, a statement against the Spanish Civil War, which later became a protest against all the wars. After the gigantic public burning of 1933, in which so-called subversive books that did not conform to Nazi totalitarianism went up in smoke, fine art was targeted in 1937 during the « degenerate art » exhibition organised in Munich. Beckmann was one of the subversive dissidents. More than 500 of his works were confiscated and some of them were exhibited with other « degenerate » artists in Munich.

Bird’s Hell is more than a masterpiece, it is a monument so we never forget. It could therefore beat the auction record of the artist, held for 16 years by a self-portrait, which reached $22.5 million at Sotheby’s in New York (Selbstbildnis mit Horn). Christie’s did not disclose the estimate for the work but the auction house gives it maximum visibility. After having exhibited the work in New York and Hong Kong, it will be shown in London, just before its auction on June 27th, 2017 as part of the Impressionist and Modern evening sales.

Art / Afrique in Paris

At a time when contemporary African art is gaining true visibility in the Western world, the Vuitton Foundation organises a major exhibition until August 28th, 2017: Art / Afrique, le nouvel atelier. It is actually three exhibitions in one: the exhibition begins with the first part entitled « The Insiders » presenting, for the first time in France, the works of fifteen artists from the contemporary art collection of businessman Jean Pigozzi, a great pioneer who collected 12,000 works of contemporary African art between 1989 and 2009, with the support of his adviser André Magnin, who explored the African continent and its artistic scene. Both have participated in the great emergence of contemporary African art in the art market and in the notoriety of artists such as Bruly Bouabré, Chéri Samba, Seydou Keita, Barthelemy Toguo, Romuald Hazoumé and Malick Sidibé, whose works are on show in the first part of this exhibition.

The exhibition then highlights the awareness of South African artists, their dynamism, their commitment and even their militancy, particularly on the issue of minorities, in the second part of the exhibition entitles Being there. This collective exhibition brings together sixteen artists, including emblematic figures such as William KENTRIDGE, David GOLDBLATT and Sue Williamson, as well as artists born in the 1980s such as Jody Brand and Siwani Buhlebezwe. Being there revisits the history and identity of South Africa through two generations of artists. The third part of the exhibition offers a selection of works from the Vuitton Foundation’s collection, taking over the whole top floor of the building. A flagship exhibition that focuses on the diversity of artists on a continent comprising of 54 countries…