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Artcurial announces highlights from its Post-War & Contemporary Art sale
Zao Wou- Ki, 1.6.88, 1988. Oil on canvas. Estimate: 1 800 000-2 800 000 € / 2 160 000-3 360 000 $.

PARIS.- Artcurial will host a Pre-War and Contemporary Art auction during a week devoted to 20th century art. Three major pieces by artists Zao Wou-Ki and Chu Teh Chun will open the auction cycle.

Abstract masters will also be represented. A majestic 1952 piece by Georges Mathieu will be offered beside two important works from Simon Hantaï, and an oil painting by Joan Mitchell, combining impressionism and abstract. Pierre Soulages, with an oil on canvas, 130 x 92, 29 MARS 88, will represent the multiplicity of states in painting, depending on how the light impacts the work. St. Louis IV, a monumental and radically powerful piece by Richard Serra will be revealed carrying an estimate of €500,000 – 700,000 / $600,000 – 840,000 and the delicacy of Sol Lewitt’s « serial project » created between 1966 and 1967 will undoubtedly create quite a stir amongst collectors.

Other exceptional pieces: a large and impressive paper collage by Karel Appel from the Cobra period from 1950 to 1953 as well as a rare Nana, La Patineuse, de 1967 by Niki de Saint Phalle, (estimate: €350,000 – 400,000 / $420,000 – 480,000), from an exceptional Belgian collection.

“This section of this extraordinarily superior auction is the fruit of intensive labour with private collectors who follow and trust us, thus enabling us to present important and previously unseen pieces on the art market” --Hugues Sebilleau, Director of the Post-War and contemporary art department, Artcurial

Zao Wou-Ki and Chu Teh Chun: Abstraction at Nature's Service
Zao Wou-Ki and Chu Teh Chun were both born in 1920, spending time as students at the at the same time at the Hagzou Beaux-Arts in China. However, it was in France that they practiced their art and began making a name for themselves.

Zao Wou-ki’s painting could be qualified as « abstract landscaping ». 1980’s he composes large «landscapes», always named by their date of completion. The painting presented at this auction, 1. 6. 88, (1988), emblematic of the artist’s body of work carries an estimate of €1,800,000 –2,800,000/ $2,160,000 – 3,360,000.

Prior to the 1980’s, the 1960 represented a pivotal period in Zao Wou-ki’s career. Indeed, in 1957, he learns of his first wife’s terrible illness, May. His painting expresses violence, an internal revolt shared with the canvas, perceptible by the many black scratches of his 1966 oil on canvas, 25.5.66, (estimate €400,000 – 600,000 € / $480,000 – 720,000).

Chu Teh-Chun’s abstract art draws its inspiration from natural elements.

This is visible in Dynamique ardente, the exceptional piece presented here, estimate: €500,000 – 700,000 / $600,000 – 840,000), created in 2006-07, the artist portrays life’s energy in an association of shapes and colours evoking freedom and profusion in Nature. Chu Teh-Chun rediscovers abstract art in 1956 following a Nicolas Staël retrospective at the Musée National d’Art Moderne which profoundly marks him. After 20 years of figurative art, he turns to abstract which reveals nature, according to him.

Mathieu, Serra, Mitchell, Soulages, Hantaï: Masters of Abstract
In Criterion by Georges Mathieu created in 1952 (estimate: €150,000 – 250,000 / $180,000 – 300,000), central calligraphy lines are applied on the tub itself, revealing a certain energy and speed characteristic of the artist. The performative dimension of the creator of lyrical Abstraction deploys in the 1950’s and is visible in this work displaying powerful gestural.

Another powerful piece represented at the auction, St. Louis IV, by Richard Serra (estimate: €500,000 – 700,000 / $600,000 – 840,000). Serra uses thick black crayons to obtain the radical effect in a dense and opaque black which is impossible to ignore.

Joan Mitchell’s abstraction is more akin to sensitivity and feeling. Sans titre, 1976, (estimate: €400,000 – 600,000 / $480,000 – 720,000), an oil on canvas, captures a dual tonality–blue and white– which she combines to evoke an imaginary but universal landscape, willing the spirit to partake in a great journey.

In his 130 x 92, 29 March 88 canvas, (estimate: €500,000 – 700,000 / $600,000 - 840,000), Pierre Soulages reveals and describes nature’s sensitivity. He creates a painting in five horizontal black sections of varying textures and roughness, each delineated by a line marking a distinct fracture.

As the artist explained, the painting is a "multiplicity of states according to the light". The formula operates well in this work, the light infiltrating differently varying on the nature of the stroke, creating glimpses of unknown colours.

In Sol Le Witt’s project, Serial Project #1 (estimate: €80,000 – 120,000 / $96,000 – 145,000) developed in 1966 – 1967, the sensual or perceptual orderis very clearly neglected in favour of the conceptual order. The project responds to the idea of LeWitt of a "non-visual" art where sensitivity is included in the idea that it could be created (and appreciated) by a blind person.

Other master of the abstraction, Simon Hantaï creates his piece Sans Titre in 1957, also at auction, (estimate: €80,000 – 120,000 / $96,000 – 144,000) in an effort to adopt the corporal dance suggested by Pollock’s "dripping" technique. Another work from the artist revealed during this auction stresses the evolution of Simon Hantaï in his relationship to abstract painting; the acrylic on canvas "Tabula" created in 1980 (estimate: €350,000 – 450,000 / $420,000 - 540,000). Here, he adopts a new technique and submits his works to the random nature of folding.

Karel Appel and Niki de Saint Phalle: Chromatic Explosion
The use of brut colours and an innocent stroke unite both artists.

Sans titre 1950-53, by Karel Appel (estimate €100,000 – 150,000 / $120,000 – 180,000) presents itself as a gouache, pastel and collage on paper, which coexist with the means of expressions within a harmony rich in colours and stories. "Art is a feast,"; it is in these words that the Museum of Modern Art of the city of Paris described Karel Appel’s personal exhibition which took place from April to August 2017.

The primary colours, used as would a child to "colour" the piece, also characterize the works of visual artist Niki de Saint Phalle. These colours fascinate Roger Nellens, painter, collector, patron and friend of the artist, who acquires several works among which La Patineuse, presented here (estimate: €350,000 – 400,000 / $420,000 - 480,000). La Patineuse, created circa 1967, is distinguished by its reduced pallet of colours and its rough edges, like the “Nanas” created at the end of 1964.

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