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Augusto Giacometti, Cuno Amiet, Paul Camenisch and Ernest Bieler in the Spotlight
Augusto Giacometti, Bergdorf (Haus und Garten in Stampa), estimate 600,000-800,000 CHF / € 393,000-525,000. Photo: Sotheby's.

ZURICH.- Sotheby’s spring sale of Swiss Art will take place in Zurich, at 83 Talstrasse, on Monday 8 June 2009, at 6 p.m. For this auction, Urs Lanter, specialist in charge of the sale, and his team have gathered together 117 works covering 250 years of Swiss art history.

While the sale does include classical artists such as Augusto Giacometti, Cuno Amiet, Albert Anker, Ernest Biéler, Paul Camenisch or Ferdinand Hodler, this spring auction also highlights contemporary artists such as Silvia Gertsch, Xerxes Arch, Niki de Saint-Phalle, Luciano Castelli or Rémy Zaugg.

All of the works in the auction will be on public view in Zurich, at 83 Talstrasse, from Friday 5 June to Sunday 7 June 2009 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

The works to be offered for auction will include Bergdorf (Haus und Garten in Stampa) (Mountain Village, House and Garden in Stampa), a very attractive oil on canvas by Augusto Giacometti (1877-1947) (estimate CHF 600,000-800,000/€ 393,000-525,000). It depicts a view in the village where the artist was born, namely Stampa, located in the canton of Grisons. This canvas is a marvelously clear demonstration of the artist’s main qualities: it allows a true appreciation of his pictorial technique, characterised by thick patches of paint laid on a very flat background in which unpainted areas create an effect of airiness in the painting. This major canvas was displayed for many years at the Kunstmuseum in Chur.

The auction also includes a magnificent work entitled Frau im Garten (Woman in Garden) painted in 1911 by Cuno Amiet (1868-1961). This oil, saturated with colour, is a manifestation of what has been called “Swiss colourism,” a genre dating from the beginning of the 20th century. Estimated at CHF 700,000-900,000 / € 455,000-585,000, this painting perfectly illustrates the talents of this artist. After joining the German expressionist group Die Brücke in 1906, Amiet let himself be carried away by his enthusiasm for colour. As this canvas illustrates, his brushstrokes are broad and clear, and the daring with which he combines warm and cold tones imparts great strength to this scene which should appeal to connoisseurs and amateurs alike.

Another of the leading paintings in this auction is an oil by the artist Paul Camenisch (1893-1970) entitled Herbstlandschaft im Mendrisiotto (Autumn Landscape in the Mendrisiotto). Painted in 1925, a year after he had founded the expressionist group “Rot-Blau” with Albert Müller and Hermann Scherer, this oil on canvas is one of the highlights of his artistic output (estimate CHF 80,000-120,000 / € 52,500-79,000). Since this artist produced relatively few works, his paintings seldom appear in public sales. The quality of his work and the importance of his movement during the expressionist years make him one of the major Swiss painters of that period. A feature of his biography is the contacts he had with the expressionist painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, who certainly influenced his approach to his art. Testifying to its importance in the cultural history of Switzerland, this painting is illustrated in the “Biographical Lexicon of Swiss Art” (Dictionnaire biographique de l’art suisse) published by the Swiss Institute for Art Research, ISEA, 1998.

From Albert Anker (1831–1910), known for his representations of daily life, we have Mädchen vor Neuenburgersee (Girl Beside Lake Neuchâtel), estimated at CHF 70,000-90,000 / € 45,900-59,000. After suffering a stroke, Albert Anker changed to watercolours, since the technique was less demanding and the material less heavy to carry. The notable feature of this work is that the subject is shown in front of a background that is a landscape, something very rare for this artist, whose figures are usually painted in indoor scenes. From the same artist, the sale includes Grossvater mit schlafender Enkelin (Grandfather with Sleeping Granddaughter), a work on paper estimated at CHF 100,000-150,000/ € 65,500-98,500. The quality of the work of Albert Anker is revealed here in a successful chemistry between the choice of the scene, the excellence of the drawing and the representation of the light. Altogether, he succeeds in exactly recreating the atmosphere of the moment.

A major figure in Swiss art, Ernest Biéler (1863-1948) concentrated throughout his career on portraying a peasant folklore to which he was particularly attached. Despite travelling widely, he would remain bound to the village of Savièse in the canton of Valais, admiring the traditions of the village and seeking to portray and preserve them through his painting. Although he is mainly known for these subjects, Biéler was in fact a multi-talented artist. In particular, during the course of his career he would produce stained-glass windows for the Federal Building in Berne as well as for churches. He would also create the ceiling of the Municipal Theatre of the city of Berne. The work offered at auction is a perfect illustration of his interest in the rural world. Showing a weaver hard at work, Biéler portrays here an activity typical of that time. From a purely pictorial point of view, the technique used (pencil, Indian ink and watercolour) allows him to achieve a remarkable level of detail. This work, created between 1920 and 1925, is estimated at CHF 200,000-300,000 / € 131,000-197,000. It is shortly to be included in the catalogue raisonné, a monograph on the artist being produced by Ethel Mathier and due to come out in December 2011.

The spring auction also includes a selection of works by contemporary Swiss artists. Collectors of the work of Niki de Saint-Phalle, Silvia Gertsch, Rémy Zaugg or Luciano Castelli, among others, will be looking to secure one of the 12 lots making up this section, a few examples of which are shown here. This sculpture entitled Saggitaire (Zodiac Sign Sagittarius) by Niki de Saint-Phalle (1930–2002) dates from 1993. Her work, most markedly her famous “Nanas,” buxom and colourful women, combines feelings such as the poetic and the humorous, the playful and the harrowing. These emotions are reflected perfectly in this sculpture, expected to bring CHF 12,000-18,000 / € 7,900-11,800.

This section also includes Luciano Castelli (1951), a member of the German group “Die jungen Wilden” (the Young Wild Ones) in the 1980s, who is represented here with a work that is simultaneously colourful, powerful and of great expressionist sensitivity. Now an artist of the 21st century, Luciano Castelli expresses his art through numerous media including not only sculpture and painting but also music, video and photography. This oil on canvas painted in 1990, entitled Blauer Akt (Blue Nude), is estimated at CHF 20,000-30,000 / € 13,100-19,700.

Mention should also be made of Rémy Zaugg (1943–2005), an artist originally from the Jura, known primarily for his paintings and sculptures in public spaces and for his architectural and town-planning projects. In that area one may recall his collaboration on more than fifteen projects with the famous Basel architectural firm of Herzog and De Meuron. His work, considered by specialists to be complex, often turns the viewer into the author of the work of art. This work entitled Mais moi je te vois (NR. 13) (But I Do See You (No. 13)), created in 2000, is estimated at CHF 10,000-15,000/€ 6,600-9,900.

Sotheby's | Augusto Giacometti | Cuno Amiet | Paul Camenisch | Ernest Bieler | Albert Müller | Hermann Scherer |  |

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