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Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale to be held on 2 May 2012 in New York
Edvard Munch, Woman Looking in the Mirror). Est. $5/7 million. Photo: Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s annual spring Evening Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art will be held in New York on 2 May 2012, featuring one of the world’s most famous masterpieces: Edvard Munch’s The Scream. The work stands as both a pivotal piece in the history of art and as an icon of global visual culture. A significant group of works from the Estate of Theodore J. Forstmann will open the evening sale, featuring major canvases by Pablo Picasso, Chaïm Soutine, and Joan Miró. In addition, the sale will offer a strong selection of Surrealist and Modern works, as well as sculpture from a private European that includes important pieces by Constantin Brancusi and Auguste Rodin. Highlights from the sale are currently on view in Sotheby’s London galleries through 18 April, and will return for exhibition in New York beginning 27 April.

Edvard Munch’s enduring masterpiece The Scream is one of the most instantly recognizable images ever created, perhaps second only to the Mona Lisa. The present version of The Scream, which dates from 1895, is one of four versions of the composition and the only version still in private hands. The work is owned by Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, whose father Thomas was a friend, neighbor and patron of Munch.

The auction will offer additional works by Munch, including four pieces from an important European collection that are led by the artist’s Kvinne som speiler seg (Woman Looking in the Mirror) (est. $5/7 million*). Painted just two years after what is widely accepted as Munch’s first Expressionist masterwork, Natt I Saint-Cloud (Night in St. Coud), and one year before he created The Scream, the canvas relies upon an unprecedented dynamism in both form and color.

Property from the Estate of Theodore J. Forstmann
The evening sale will commence with 17 lots from the Estate of Theodore J. Forstmann, the legendary financier and well-known American philanthropist. Mr. Forstmann was also a collector of great connoisseurship and refinement, whose interests spanned Impressionist and Modern art, Contemporary art, American art and Latin American art.

Leading the works on offer in the 2 May auction is Pablo Picasso’s portrait of Dora Maar titled Femme assise dans un fauteuil, which exemplifies the artist’s wartime work and his passionate exchange with Dora Maar (est. $20/30 million). Chaïm Soutine’s Le chausseur de chez Maxim’s is a masterwork of Expressionism and arguably the crowning achievement of the artist’s career (est. $10/15 million), while his Le Chasseur (est. $4/6 million) – also done in Paris in the 1920s – also will be a major sale highlight. The collection also features Tête humaine, a prime example of Joan Miró’s formative output of the 1930s (est. $10/15 million).

Surrealist Masters
A superb selection of Surrealist works in the evening sale will be led by Salvador Dalí's Printemps nécrophilique from 1936, which has not appeared on the market in nearly 15 years (est. $8/12 million). Painted at the height of the artist’s most creative years in Paris, the canvas exemplifies his unique aesthetic at its most refined and sensational. The auction also will include important works by other Surrealist giants including Max Ernst, René Magritte and Paul Delvaux.

Stunning Sculpture
Sculpture on offer in the New York sale will be highlighted by works from an important European collection, featuring a rare example by Constantin Brancusi as well as an exceptional group of pieces by Auguste Rodin. Brancusi’s Prométhée, conceived and cast in an edition of four in 1911, exemplifies the unique sculptural language that the artist developed in the early-20th century: a sophisticated minimalism that combined influences ranging from primitive models to Romanian folk traditions and the sleek machine aesthetic of the industrial age (est. $6/8 million).

The Rodin sculptures from the collection comprise some of the artist’s most famous compositions, including two lifetime casts of Le Baiser (ests. $1/1.5 million and $400/600,000), as well as lifetime casts of La Jeune mère et l’enfant (est. $600/800,000) and Femme accroupie, petit modèle ($800,000/1.2 million).

Classic Modernism
Modernist works are well-represented in the May auction, led by canvases from Pablo Picasso, Fernand Léger and Joan Miró. With triumphant colors and graphic confidence, Tête de femme conveys the sense of optimism that characterizes Picasso’s work in the years immediately following World War I (est. $4/6 million). The model for this work is the artist’s lover and muse from this period, François Gilot. Léger’s La joie de vivre is a boldly-modeled and elegantly-executed work that is one of the artist’s definitive compositions of the 1950s (est. $2.5/3 million), while Nature morte is a stunning example of his style in the 1920s that relies on complex arrangements of geometric and stylized forms (est. $2.2/2.8 million).

In addition to Tête humaine, works by Miró will be highlighted by Peinture from the Collection of Walter and Doris Goldstein, which belongs to a series from the early 1950s that heralded the coming revolution within Modernism (est. $4.5/6.5 million), as well as Personnage fascinant from the Estate of Robert S. McNamara, a stunning canvas from 1968 that embodies the artist’s preoccupations during his mature phase (est. $2.5/3.5 million)

Works on Paper
Works on paper will be highlighted by Étude pour figure decorative sur fond ornemental, a stunning nude drawing by Henri Matisse (est. $2.5/3.5 million). Executed during his years in Nice, the work relates directly to one of the artist’s masterpieces now at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. Pierre-Auguste Renoir completed his magnificent Porait de Cézanne in 1880, about two decades after the two had met while studying at the Académie Suisse in Paris (est. $3/5 million). The portrait marks the beginning of a period of close friendship between the two artists. And Édouard Manet’s Pertuiset, le Chasseur de lions, executed in 1881, is related directly to the artist’s monumental composition now housed at the Museu de Arte in São Paulo.

*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium

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