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PIASA announces auction devoted to the work of sculptor Pierre Sabatier
Pierre Sabatier (1925-2003) devoted most of his career to producing monumental and collective art, outside any commercial circuit.

PARIS.- On October 8 PIASA will stage an auction retrospective devoted to the work of sculptor Pierre Sabatier, a leading light of the Mur Vivant movement. Monumental pieces will dialogue with furniture and sculpture in a sale that sees PIASA pursue their programme of showcasing important 20th century artists.

Pierre Sabatier (1925-2003) devoted most of his career to producing monumental and collective art, outside any commercial circuit. He trained at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs and Ecole des Beaux-Arts in post-war Paris, and began by producing mosaics and ceramics before turning to metal in the late 1960s; it would become his favourite material. He was a committed member of the Mur Vivant movement, which militated for the integration of art into architecture, and collaborated with the top architects of the period. He also used metal in vast construction programmes, both in France and abroad (Canada, Kuwait, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Germany and Portugal). One of his most striking designs was the Rochas façade in Paris (1974), inspired by Baudelaire’s famous poem Harmonie du Soir and adapting its ‘lyrical, baroque’ expression to the world of perfume and fashion.

‘With their expressiveness and monumentality, Pierre Sabatier’s works breathe lyricism and character into modern constructions.’ Domitille d’Orgeval: Pierre Sabatier Sculpteur (Norma Editions)

Sabatier travaille à l’échelle des volumes construits et ses œuvres intègrent souvent une fonction d’usage : murs claustras, paravents, portes, parois. Ses interventions portent à la fois sur le volume, le relief, la texture et la polychromie. Il exploite toutes les possibilités du métal dans un incessant corps à corps où il est tour à tour embouti, ciselé, martelé, soudé, corrodé, oxydé.

The robust, powerful nature of Sabatier’s murals transcend their architectural settings. In 1973, at the request of Michel Herbert, he designed a wall for the Crédit Agricole’s head office in Beauvais. A variation of this work will be offered for auction: Falaise Noire, with its powerful rhythm of repeated folds and frothing black foam seeping through gaps in the ‘cliff’ (est. €70,000-90,000).

In the 1970s Sabatier developed expertise in all types of metal production: screen walls, sculpture, wall panels, monumental doors and sculpted ensembles. His work Arborescence (1970), for instance, stands out for its use of brass and openwork pewter, suggesting growth through plant forms. The lace-like openwork effect is created by fusion; the forms, with their ragged contours, take over the wall, half-opening and bending back on themselves to reveal hand-embossed pewter spheres.

Along with his monumental works, Sabatier also designed a range of objects and furniture with plant, mineral or cosmic inspiration. When working the texture and surface of metal he sought to evoke telluric movements, with a tearing, exploding or outpouring of matter in gestation. He adopted a more geometric approach in his pewter-on-brass Babylon fireplace, shown at the Salon des Artistes Décorateurs in 1983 (est. €60,000-90,000).

Also of note is his Beauvais I prototype bronze lamp, a free evocation of the monumental door of the Hôtel du Département in Beauvais and a synthesis of his approach and work on destructuring salient angles at the junction of two planes (est. €2500-3500). Light is attracted to the polished surface, destructuring and restructuring the angle. Meanwhile his severe and robust San Andrea II coffee- table, in corroded and oxidized steel with dark grey patina, seems to evoke a mineral surface torn asunder.

The sale Pierre Sabatier – Poétique du Métal pays tribute to an artist who worked tirelessly throughout his life to give expression to his ideal: a synthesis of the arts. He bequeathed a body of work that has left its mark for many decades.

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