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Impressionist & Modern Art Sale at Sotheby's in Paris Includes an André Masson Masterpiece
André Masson, Gradiva,1939. Huile sur toile, 97 x 130 cm. Estimate €1.500,000-2,000,000. Photo: Sotheby's.

PARIS.- Not since Sotheby’s began staging sales of Impressionist & Modern Art in Paris has an auction had such a Surrealist feel. On December 8 Sotheby’s Paris will offer one of the finest-ever Surrealist paintings: a key work by André Masson, his 1939 Gradiva, which encapsulates the friendship and artistic co-operation between Masson and the André Breton group that started in November 1936 and lasted until 1942. The spectacular format, and the attraction of the Gradiva myth to the Surrealist psyche, makes this one of the most successful works in Surrealist art. This is the first time this celebrated painting – shown in all the major retrospectives devoted to André Masson and Surrealism –will be offered at auction (estimate €1.500,000-2,000,000*).

Sotheby's are also honoured to offering for sale eight outstanding paintings and photographs by Man Ray from the Georgia & George Blaine Collection. Georgia Blaine was best friends with a young woman Man Ray met in Los Angeles in the early 1940s, and married in 1946: his muse Juliet.

These works date from Man Ray’s years in Los Angeles (1940-51), after his exile from Occupied France, and were kept at the same Hollywood address – a short step from Man Ray’s studio – until George Blaine’s death at the start of 2010. Except for Les Beaux Temps (exhibited in 1944), none of these works have ever been shown in public or even published.

Les Beaux Temps, painted in 1941, is the second version of one of Man Ray’s most famous compositions. Using violence, humour, mystery and a flaming palette, he put all his energy into evoking the atrocities of World War (est. €300,000-500,000).

The ensemble also includes a hitherto unpublished 1942 rayogram (produced using the novel process perfected by Man Ray) dedicated to Georgia Blaine (est. €30,000-50,000).

The auction also includes two iconic works from Surrealism’s second generation: a superb 1958 wax painting by Victor Brauner, Le Boyard (est. €120,000-180,000); and a 1969 Wifredo Lam masterpiece, Tropical Fruit (est. €250,000-350,000), chosen by Lam to represent his work at the 1972 Venice Biennale.

Another Latin American masterpiece is Fernando Botero’s 1984 Antonio Chaves ‘Chavito’ from the great 1980s bull-fighting series in which Botero perpetuates and renews the prestigious tradition of bullfight scenes after Goya, Manet and Picasso, concentrating here on the solemn moment when the matador is about to enter the arena (est. €400,000-600,000).

Works by Pablo Picasso include two superb Large Vases with Dancers (1950), superb examples of his Vallauris ceramics (est. €120,000-180,000 each); and Model Posing for the Artist, a 1926 drawing from his Ingresque Period (est. €250,000-350,000).

Sonia Delaunay’s Le Marché au Minho (c.1915) is an icon of Orphism, capturing the light, and the richness and strength of the colours, of Northern Portugal, where Sonia and Robert Delaunay settled in Summer 1915. This version of the famous composition has not been seen in public since the Sonia & Robert Delaunay Retrospective at Lisbon’s Gulbenkian Museum in 1972 (est. €300,000-400,000).

Another of the sale’s most appealing works is Alberto Giacometti’s bronze bust of his brother Diego (Head with Polo-Neck, c.1954), one of eight castings made in 1980, then acquired by the current owner from Aimé Maeght in 1981, since when it has remained in the same Paris family (est.€600,000-900,000).

Another sale highlight, from an important private collection, is a work in gouache on paper by Joan Miró dated 1947: a veritable graphic testament of Miró’s pleasure at being in New York, and the recognition he enjoyed during his stay there. In this work Miró returns to the visual vocabulary, freedom and elegant style of his famous Constellations series. Miró gave this radiant work to the wife of Pierre Matisse, the man who first unveiled his Constellations to the public (est. €500,000-700,000).

The sale also includes masterpieces by two leading 20th century Czech painters: Toyen, with Le Plongeur (est. €500,000-700,000); and Jindrch Štyrský, with Carnaval de Nice (est. €200,000-300,000). Both works date from the artists’ stay in 1920s Paris, the cradle of Surrealism, and have remained in the same French collection since the early 1980s.

Friday 3 December 10am – 6pm
Saturday 4 December 10am – 6pm
Monday 6 December 10am – 6pm
Tuesday 7 December 10am – 2pm

* estimates do not include buyer’s premium

Sotheby's | Paris | André Masson | André Breto | Impressionist & Modern Art Sale |

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