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Koller Auctions is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year with special anniversary auctions
John Chamberlain, Kiss #18. 1979. Painted steel. 68.5 x 59.5 x 61 cm. CHF 250 000 / 350 000.

ZURICH.- This June, Koller’s special 60th anniversary auctions are dedicated to Modern & Contemporary Art, Swiss Art, Jewellery, Watches, Photography and Design. The Zurich auction house, founded in 1958, is celebrating in style: by offering high-quality, attractive works by international and Swiss artists.

An exciting private collection of French Fauvist and Expressionist works will be the centrepiece of the Impressionist and Modern sale on 29 June. The collection – which was begun in the 1920s, continued by the following generations and has remained in the same family until the present day –features works by Maurice de Vlaminck, Gen Paul, and a series of outstanding works by Kees van Dongen, who was personally known to the family. Among the most striking of van Dongen’s works to be offered is a haunting fauvist portrait of an Egyptian woman, “Rouge et Jaune (l’Égyptienne)” from 1910-11 (lot 3230, CHF 1 / 2 million). Van Dongen’s use of strong primary colours combined with the intense gaze of the sitter create a tension between distance and proximity which continues to entrance the viewer more than one hundred years after its creation.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s sculptural works are rarely seen on the market, and two important examples from this art form will be offered on 29 June: “Obstschale II”, a rare carved wooden figural fruit bowl from circa 1910 (lot 3223, CHF 100 000 / 200 000), and a two-sided bronze relief door, cast after the original wooden relief carvings by Kirchner from circa 1919 (lot 3227, CHF 250 000 / 450 000). Both works have a remarkable provenance, the collection of Kirchner’s close friend, artist Lise Gujer, and their importance within Kirchner’s sculptural oeuvre cannot be understated.

The PostWar & Contemporary auction on 30 June is dominated by two metallic sculptures: “Kiss #18” by John Chamberlain is an delightful work from the American sculptor’s “Sockets” and “Kisses” series from the mid- to late 1970s, in which two painted oil barrels are crushed and entwined to resemble an act of passionate contact (lot 3433, CHF 250 000 – 350 000). “Red Square”, a 2007 coloured bronze sculpture by Tony Cragg, belongs to the group of Cragg’s works known as “Early Forms”, in which the focus is on the form of a vessel. Here the vessel can only be divined amidst the flowing, dynamic forms of this work by one of the most influential and formative sculptors of our time (lot 3522, CHF 90 000 / 150 000).

Mark Tobey’s “Western Pagodas” from 1953 combines elements of the artist’s fascination with architecture, civilisation and spirituality (lot 3411, CHF 150 000 / 250 000). “Kedzi-Domb” dates from a key year in Victor Vasarely’s career, 1968, when he was intensively developing certain elements of Op Art (lot 3437, CHF 90 000 / 160 000), and “Clockwork Panda Drummer” by Andy Warhol is a charming example from the artist’s “Toy Series” from the 1980s (lot 3451, CHF 80 000 / 140 000).

The PostWar & Contemporary auction also features contemporary works by Swiss artists, among which two works by H.R. Giger, seldom seen on the art market, will be offered: “Lord of the Rings I” from 1975 (lot 3477, CHF 70 000 / 100 000), and “Landschaft VIII” from 1972/73 (lot 3478, CHF 70 000 / 100 000), as well as “Simultanes Leuchten” created by Johannes Itten in 1974 (lot 3458, CHF 60 000 / 90 000).

Koller’s Swiss Art auction on 29 June features a fascinating work by Giovanni Giacometti, “La lettrice” (The Reader) from 1912. Giacometti, along with his compatriot Cuno Amiet, experimented with various artistic movements such as Fauvism, Post-Impressionism and Impressionism, pushing each style to its limits and creating his own unique form of expression. Here the artist explores French Fauvism, and his use of unusual colour combinations and effects of shimmering light and coloured shadows are signature elements of his work during this period (lot 3051, CHF 250 000 / 350 000).

Two significant paintings by Varlin (Willy Guggenheim) will also be offered in the Swiss Art auction. “D’Après Goya” from 1970-73 treats themes that are common to the work of both Varlin and the Spanish master: the analysis of the inner human condition, especially its dark and anxiety-ridden facets (lot 3064, CHF 70 000 / 90 000). The second work by Varlin is a large, two-sided canvas which was in Varlin’s atelier until the end of his life, “Dog on an armchair” and “Girl on a rocking horse” (lot 3067, CHF 50 000 / 80 000).

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