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One of the greatest examples of Modernist & Abstract art comes to auction for the first time
Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red, Blue and Grey, 1927. Oil on canvas, 68.5 x 53cm. £13-18 million / $22-30 million. © 2014 Mondrian/Holtzman Trust c/o HCR International USA.
LONDON.- Sotheby’s London announced that a highlight of the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on Monday 23 rd June 2013 is a supreme example of Piet Mondrian’s unique style, Composition with Red, Blue and Grey, inscribed and dated 1927 (est. £13-18 million / $22-30 million). This major work is one of very few to come to the market in decades. The painting’s significant size (68.5 by 53cm), together with its prime colour combination and balanced composition, distinguish it as one of the finest achievements of the artist’s career. Composition with Red, Blue and Grey was acquired by the father of the present owner in the late 1950s and the painting has since been included in some of the most important retrospective exhibitions of Mondrian’s work, including the 1971 show at the Guggenheim, New York, and more recently the 'Mondrian\De Stijl' show held at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, in 2010-11. The work now comes to auction for the first time.

Helena Newman, Sotheby’s Co-Head, Impressionist & Modern Art Worldwide comments: “This is a quintessential work by Piet Mondrian. Classically Modern and pure in form, it is an exceptional example of the seminal period in the artist’s career as well as the enduring appeal of the Modern aesthetic. It is extremely rare for a work of this quality to come to the market as many are housed in museums, and having remained in a collection after 50 years this opportunity to buy such an iconic work will be extremely appealing to discerning collectors across the world.”

Philip Hook, Sotheby’s Senior Specialist, Impressionist & Modern Art, comments: “Composition with Red, Blue and Grey is one of a series of works crucial to the development of Modern art. It was considered revolutionary at the time it was created and remains startlingly modern today. Mondrian’s unique style has inspired many creative works, spanning fashion, music and architecture, and its lasting appeal is underscored by two forthcoming exhibitions in the UK alone – at Tate Liverpool and Turner Contemporary – marking the 70 th anniversary of the artist’s death.”

A work from Mondrian’s Paris years in the 1920’s, Composition with Red, Blue and Grey embodies the period of his career when he produced his purest and most balanced works. The painting’s grid pattern and primary block colours represent Mondrian’s unique style and his pursuit of a purified aesthetic which became a template for both the aesthetic and the ideals of twentieth century modernism.

The first owner of the present work, from 1944-1956, was Mondrian’s friend Harry Holtzman, an artist himself who helped found the influential American Abstract Artists Group which advocated the principles of European Modernism. Upon seeing two of Mondrian’s works at the Museum of Living Art in New York, Holtzman became convinced of the importance of meeting the artist. In 1934 he travelled to France and introduced himself to Mondrian at his studio in the rue de Départ. The pair became great friends and it was Holtzman in 1940 who arranged for Mondrian to escape the Blitz of London and emigrate to America where he remained for the rest of his life. In New York, Holtzman introduced Mondrian to jazz, and in particular music in the so-called ‘boogie-woogie’ style. Harry Cooper has noted that ‘Without Harry Holtzman, there might have been no boogie-woogie’ paintings. At the time of Mondrian’s death, the childless artist was without an heir and chose Holtzman as the guardian of his legacy.



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