September sales: French collections

[18 Sep 2012]


In a few days the Paris branches of Christie’s and Sothey’s will each be hosting sales of important art collections of French art. On 24 September, Sotheby’s will be offering 100 works from Marcel Brient’s Contemporary art collection and three days later Christie’s will be selling Hélène Rochas’ carefully selected collection.

Sotheby’s, Marcel Brient Collection – La Page Française
Last year, Sotheby’s convinced Marcel Brient of their sales power by selling one of his works, Oozewald by Cady NOLAND, at double its estimate, generating an auction record for the artist of $5.8m (€4.2m, 9 November 2011 in New York). The French collector therefore knows that the works he has entrusted to Sotheby’s for an exclusive sale on 24 September are in good hands! Entitled La Page Française (French Page), this sale focuses on French artists and artists that live or lived in France like Joan MITCHELL. Incidentally, Joan Mitchell also signed a new record at the same Sotheby’s sale as Cady Noland (Untitled, 1960, $8.25m)… yet another good sign for the upcoming sale.
The major movements of Contemporary French Art are represented in this sale: New Realism, with notably Yves KLEIN (Victoire de Samothrace estimated €25,000 – €35,000), Fernandez ARMAN (Poubelle organique, 1973, estimated €60,000 – €80,000 ) and CHRISTO (Poussette empaquetée, 1962, estimated €120,000 – €180,000). Fans of the Supports/Surfaces movement will find works by Daniel DEZEUZE, Claude VIALLAT and Simon HANTAÏ. The latter is the star of the sale with a superb canvas that was carefully folded to leave poetic blue marks: created in 1969 the work is estimated at €350,000. So far, Simon Hantaï has crossed the €350,000 threshold only three times at auction – his record stands at €481,000, $568,000, for Mariale M.A 4 Rouge (Christie’s, Paris, December 2005).
In addition to these now “historical” figures of twentieth century art, there will be works by some of the spearheads of France’s ultra-contemporary scene like Xavier VEILHAN and Fabrice HYBER.
Several works will also be offered at less than €10,000 including Patrick TOSANI’s Portrait N13 (€3,000 – €4,000) and a 1947 drawing by Jean Helion entitled La Relève (€4,000 – €6,000).

Christie’s, Hélène Rochas’ Collection – September 27
Hélène Rochas’ collection is more eclectic. It reflects consistently good taste for Modern and Contemporary paintings, but also for furniture and art objects. Christie’s expects €8m from the sale of these artworks and objects that Madame Rochas kept in her Parisian apartment. Buyers are expected to come from well beyond the French borders, particularly for the four portraits that she ordered from Andy WARHOL in 1974 (estimated €200,000 – €300,000 each) and Ben NICHOLSON’s painting Violin and Guitar (1933), a superb example of 1930s abstraction, carrying an estimate of €300,000 – €500,000. The work deserves particular attention because it is the first painting of this magnitude by Ben Nicholson ever to be offered for sale in a French auction.
There will also be a drawing by Egon SCHIELE (Kopf einer Frau mit rufenden jungen grossem Hut, Gesicht auf die Hände gestutzt, €30,000 – €40,000), a huge portrait of Lucien Guitry by Édouard VUILLARD (€150,000 – €250,000) a large 1925 abstract work by Wassily KANDINSKY (Braunes Schweigen, €1.5 million – €2 million) and a large terracotta vase by Pablo PICASSO (Personnages et têtes, 1954, €40,000 – €60,000).

Besides the quality of the works chosen by their well-advised collectors and variety and coherence of the pieces offered in this type of sales, the actual history of the works (their provenance and pedigree) often makes a strong contribution to the intensity of the bidding. These sales should get the Paris autumn season off to a good start.