The Art of the Surreal sale will follow the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on 27 February 2018, both of which launch 20th Century at Christies
, a series of sales that take place in London from 20 February to 7 March 2018. This years seventeenth edition of the annual Art of the Surreal auction is a broad overview of Surrealism, its antecedents and later developments, with 34 lots by 15 artists. A major focal point is the four international collections, Abstraction Beyond Borders, The Eye of the Architect, the collection of Antoni Tàpies and the Triton Collection Foundation, with highlights including a metaphysical work by Giorgio de Chirico, a transparence by Francis Picabia, four early paintings by Joan Miró and surreal works by Pablo Picasso and Paul Klee. The works from the sale will be exhibited in London from 20 to 27 February 2018.
Olivier Camu, Deputy Chairman, Impressionist and Modern Art, Christies: The seventeenth edition of our annual themed sale The Art of the Surreal will include a core of four private, international collections providing surreal masterpieces not seen at auction before, by artists such as de Chirico, Magritte, Miró and Picasso. Magrittes large Le groupe silencieux of 1926, one of a handful of large and important early works by the artist, is the highlight of the sale. Picassos Figure of 1930, not seen at auction for half a century, is a powerfully architectural composition relating to MOMAs Baigneuse of the same year, which clearly shows Picassos influence on later artists such as Henry Moore and Francis Bacon.
The sale includes seven paintings by René Magritte, led by Le groupe silencieux, (1926, estimate: £6,500,000-9,500,000) an important example of his early Surrealist style, and where all the pictorial devices, props and structures that go into the making of a so-called figurative or representational painting have been rendered in an unusual, subversive manner. The work is one of a pioneering series of oil paintings that the artist made between January 1926 and April 1927 in preparation for his first one-man show, held at the Galerie le Centaure, Brussels in the spring of 1927. In conjunction with his deconstruction of the components of landscape and still-life painting there is also a sense that the representation of the human figure has been broken down into parts. This painting is, in this respect, a landmark work that establishes some of the logic and framework of the aesthetic path that Magritte was to follow for the rest of his life. Le groupe silencieux is offered alongside L'état de veille (1958, estimate: £150,000-200,000), Nu (1925, estimate: £100,000-200,000), La recherche de l'absolu (1948, estimate: £1,000,000-1,500,000), Lexplication (1962, estimate: £400,000-700,000), Les signes du soir (1926, estimate: £1,500,000-2,500,000) part of Abstraction Beyond Borders and L'oasis (1926, estimate: £1,400,000-2,000,000).
Pablo Picasso from The Eye of the Architect
Pablo Picassos Figure (1930, estimate: £3,000,000-5,000,000) is from a series of oil paintings the artist created during his so-called bone period. Depicting totemic, monumental female figures towering against a pale blue sky, these works illustrate the artists fascination in fusing organic material with a sense of architectural form and structure during this period. The highly sculptural, skeletal-like figure was created in direct response to the monumental seated bather from his 1930 composition Baigneuse, now in the Museum of Modern Art. The present work deconstructs form in a manner that goes beyond the cubist idiom which dominated Picassos pre-war works.
Max Ernsts Les invités du dimanche (The Sunday Guests) (1924, estimate: £2,000,000-3,000,000) is one of a small number of Dada paintings in which the artist first attempted to move beyond the inspiration of the metaphysical paintings of Carrà and de Chirico and his own experimental work with collage. In this work, Ernst made use of a series of printed images of womens hairstyles as the prompt for the creation of a sequence of bizarre and haunting figurative personages. He was also inspired at this time by the kind of eroto-mechanics of Duchamp and Picabias machine pictures and deeply interested in alchemy and in alchemical illustration. This work also appears to be highly auto-biographical, perhaps alluding to the ménage à trois that existed between Ernst, Paul and Gala Éluard in that period.
Joan Mirós Painting (1925/1964, estimate: £2,000,000-3,000,000) dates from the early stages of the artists remarkable series of oneiric or dream pictures, where Mirós radically simplified compositions succeeded in moving beyond pictorial conventions of illusionistic representation and resemblance. Almost forty years after its creation, Miró added several new characters and details to the composition, having encountered the painting again at the home of his friend and early biographer, the artist Roland Penrose.
Le Sabbat (The Sabbath) by Paul Delvaux (1962, estimate: £1,500,000-2,500,000), one of the most important paintings from the second half of the artists career, is being offered by the artists family. In many ways Delvauxs Le Sabbat can be seen as a painterly invocation of the night, the subject that had preoccupied the artist and sustained the mysteries of his art from the 1930s onwards. Delvaux takes the traditional North European subject of Walpurgisnacht or the Witches Sabbath and transforms it into a strangely erotic and rather genteel midnight garden party taking place near a railway junction in a suburb of Brussels.
Abstraction Beyond Borders
Further artists representing the range of the movement include Wifredo Lam, who developed a style that was a synthesis of Cubism, Surrealism, and Afro-Cuban sources. Painted in 1944, Sans Titre (estimate: £300,000-500,000) boldly depicts this evolution within the artists oeuvre. Morphologie Psychologique de langoisse (La veille de la mort) (1938, estimate: £700,000-900,000) is among the very first of Roberto Mattas 'psychological morphologies', a seminal series that he began in the summer of 1938. Dating from the final months of André Massons acclaimed Spanish period, Corrida mythologique (1936, estimate: £800,000-1,200,000) stands as a highly dramatic, personal reflection of the intense anxiety the artist felt regarding the Spanish Civil War. The sale also includes works by Salvador Dalí, Oscar Domínguez, Roland Penrose and Yves Tanguy.