London announced that a highlight of the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on Monday 23 rd June 2013 is a supreme example of Piet Mondrians 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 paintings 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 artists 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 Mondrians 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, Sothebys 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 artists 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, Sothebys 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. Mondrians 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 artists death.
A work from Mondrians Paris years in the 1920s, Composition with Red, Blue and Grey embodies the period of his career when he produced his purest and most balanced works. The paintings grid pattern and primary block colours represent Mondrians 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 Mondrians 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 Mondrians 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 Mondrians death, the childless artist was without an heir and chose Holtzman as the guardian of his legacy.