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Flash news: Impressionist and Modern Masterpieces – Ross Lovegrove – Magdalena Abakanowicz

[12 May 2017]

Impressionist and Modern Masterpieces in New York

This is one of the most anticipated auctions of the year: the prestigious sale of Impressionist and Modern artworks at Christie’s and Sotheby’s in New York takes place on May 15th and 16th, 2017. The giants of Modern art are represented in a hundred lots, of which artprice gives you a selective sneak preview.

Among the most remarkable works for sale on May 15th in Christie’s catalogue are a magnificent BRAQUE from his Cubist period (Le Guéridon, 1911, estimate $4-6m), one of the best subjects of Impressionism, a snowy landscape by Claude MONET (The Road to Vétheuil, snow effect, estimate $10-15 m) and one of the most emblematic sculptures of Modern art: The Sleeping Muse, a bronze by Constantin BRANCUSI. This piece of unparalleled formal purity was created in 1909 by Brancusi in a marble version (the original work is at the Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington), from which he made a plaster cast and then an edition of only six bronzes. The work presented on May 15th is the sixth and last bronze from this small series. It comes from the superb collection of Jacques Ulmann, in which it has remained for sixty years. The last Sleeping Muse sold at auction fetched $6.6m in 1997, a high price at the time. This time, the version offered by Christie’s is expected to fetch between$25m and $35m… Christie’s also offers for sale Femme assise, robe bleue (estimated at $30m-$50m), a painting by Pablo Picasso dated October 25th, 1939, undertaken during the most turbulent period in the history of the 20th century (between the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War). The face of Picasso’s muse, Dora Maar, is distorted in a grotesque manner that reflects the stigmata of the disturbed time. The work briefly passed into the hands of the great art dealer Paul Rosenberg before being confiscated by the Nazis in 1940 and then recovered by the French Free Forces during the Second World War before finally finding its way into one of the most beautiful collections in the world, that of American collector G. David Thompson.

The next day at Sotheby’s, other wonderful works come under the hammer beginning with the painting chosen for the cover of the catalogue: a superb Danae by Egon SCHIELE, which was the artist’s first nude, painted when he was 19 years old. Schiele’s vision was already perfectly reflected in this canvas advertised as his « first masterpiece » and expected to fetch between $30 and $40 million. The Impressionists are represented in force with Bonnard, Sisley, Signac and Monet notably with Water lilies, his favourite subject (estimated between $14m and $18m). Two other museum works are particularly anticipated, one by Gustav KLIMT (Woman in Armchair estimated at $7m-$9m) and Edgar DEGASSpartan Girls Provoking Boys (1860), one of his most powerful and dynamic works still in private hands. The latter, which was used for the composition of a painting of the same name now in the National Gallery in London, had not been seen on the market since 1918, the year of the sale of part of Degas’ studio by the George Petit Gallery… Without promising world records, these New York sales do not skimp on the quality or the provenance of their masterpieces.

Ross Lovegrove in Paris

The exhibition Mutations-Créations by British designer Ross LOVEGROVE at the Pompidou Centre in Paris (from April 12th to July 3rd, 2017) is a real event in the world of contemporary design. An event driven by a vision as creative as it is intelligent, as Ross Lovegrove cleverly and poetically manages to combine nature and modern technology. He indeed knows how to draw from beyond the formal inspiration of nature by also considering it as a true « library, » our first source of knowledge. This is illustrated by his famous aerial staircase inspired by a DNA molecule, inverting the acronym to reflect his own philosophy: Design – Nature – Art. As a « design doctor, » Lovegrove is searching for « the essential organism », even if it reduces the quantity of matter, hence lightened objects, with « holes »… Design must seek an economy of means if it wants to participate in a green economy. That is one of his major concerns. Ross Lovegrove also explores the possibilities offered by new technology and cutting-edge technology such as the 3D printer, or the use of crystals to power lithium batteries (Crystal Aerospace Solar Concept Car). In an interview by Marie-Ange Brayer, the designer said: « Design is in a perpetual state of reinvention. Because it is about transforming natural resources into useful objects, the designer is at the heart of the ecological challenges that affect our emotional and aesthetic state, as much as our collective consciousness. » (In Code Couleur, No. 27, January-April 2017, pp. 26-27). For the first time in France, the exhibition brings together some of Lovegrove’s most emblematic creations, some of which have already won over the second market as true « collector’s » items. A record at auction was created in 2006 for the prototype «Liquid Bench» selling for $223,000 at Phillips de Pury & Company in London. In the eyes of collectors too, Lovegrove is one of the most emblematic designers of our time…

Magdalena Abakanowicz (1930-2017)

A small crowd is walking, without apparent purpose, beaten by the winds of Lake Michigan, on the esplanade of Grant Park in Chicago, this is Agora (2006), a powerful work and a perfect example of Magdalena ABAKANOWICZ‘s work.

The artist came from a well-known aristocratic family that can apparently be traced back to Genghis Khan. The artist successively experienced the loss of the privileges of her social class, the Second World War and the extremely difficult living conditions of the Poles in the postwar years. These material difficulties influenced her early works. She abandoned painting which she considered too unreal and the makeshift material she used during her formative years, textiles, soon became her favourite medium. Using it in three dimensions, she had a direct interaction with this material, without prior sketching and a permanent concern for the physical reality of things. Over the years, her tapestries-sculptures, called « Abakans » after her surname, became more and more monumental and voluminous. The raw forms individually created by hand, their surface rough and rusty, their material doomed to degradation refer to the body and the precariousness of the living. In the 70s, the Ropes series, large braided ropes, pre-dated her large outdoor installations. Quickly, solo exhibitions ensured her a high visibility in Europe. The Whitechapel Art Gallery in London gave her a first solo show in 1975. She represented Poland at the Venice Biennale in 1980, where she showed Embryology, monumental cocoons made of sewed sacking material stuffed with fibre. She soon turned to bronze to complete her visual vocabulary. Her works are present in the major international cultural institutions, mainly in Europe and the United States. After the 2006 sales records at Sotheby’s in New York reached over $600,000, the market has stabilised since 2010. In March of this year, the Polswiss Art auction house in Warsaw sold a bronze sculpture called Form standing from 1998, for almost $70,000.

The artist, who wanted to reveal through sculpture the transformation of the individual into a constrained and controlled subject, died on 20th April in Warsaw.


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