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Phillips to offer over 100 etchings and aquatints from the collection of Piero Crommelynck
Georges Braque, (1882-1963), L'Oiseau bleu, circa 1960. Aquatint, one of a few proofs. Estimate: $3,000-5,000.

NEW YORK, NY.- On 18 April in New York, Phillips will host an auction comprised of over 100 etchings and aquatints from the collection of master printer and engraver Piero Crommelynck. While most frequently remembered as Picasso’s favorite printer of his late intaglios, or the “Prince of the printers,” as film director Jean-Michel Meurice would call him, in his over forty-year career, Piero famously worked alongside his brother Aldo to bring to life graphic works of art. They developed technical processes for numerous artists who have come to define the visual culture of the 20th century – from modernist peintre - graveur Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and Le Corbusier to post-war David Hockney, Jim Dine, Jasper Johns and Richard Hamilton, all included in this sale. In the 1990s, Piero opened his own studio and began publishing under his own name, collaborating with a great number of celebrated contemporary European artists, such as Sam Szafran, Pierre Alechinsky and Not Vital. This auction marks the first time these works have been publicly exhibited. Before the auction in New York, highlights will tour to London from 15-19 March and to Paris from 22-25 March.

From the 1960s until Picasso's death in 1973, the Commelynck brothers served as the artist's printers, Piero establishing a singular bond with Picasso, likely seeing in him a mirror-image of his own father. Very few people can claim a real close and strong working relationship with Picasso. The harmony between these two men was intense and fruitful. In 1963 the family moved to Mougins to be close to Picasso and assist with his printmaking demands. Piero is one of the most recurring male figures in Picasso's work of this last period – appearing in more than 150 images, as Werner Spies documented, and as Picasso noted, "Ah, yes, I engraved my engraver and his entire family!”

A complete set of Picasso’s Le cocu magnifique , 1968, lead the collection (estimate $70,000-90,000). This portfolio of twelve etchings and the additional signed and numbered suite illustrate the Belgian play of the same name, which was written in 1921 by their father, Fernand Crommelynck. Three years before Picasso created these portfolios, the play was adapted into an Italian film, which led to a resurgence of public interest in the subject.

Also included in the collection are six colorful aquatints based on important Picasso paintings or gravures d’interprétation, executed with stunning virtuosity. Among these vibrant and iconic works are Le Californie (Intérieur rouge) , 1959-60 (estimate: $6,000-8,000) and Verre d'absinthe, 1972 (estimate: $9,000-12,000). Ernst Beyeler has recalled of Picasso’s aquatint technique, “You know, it is not easy, it’s much more complicated than fitting Versailles into a matchbox.”

An impressive selection of works by Joan Miró from his earlier years of producing gravures, 1958-1960, will also be offered in the April auction. Twenty-five lots, including working proofs, many beautifully enhanced with hand-coloring by Miró, bon à tirers (“good to print”), signed proofs, hors commerce (“outside the edition”) impressions, and unique uneditioned/unrecorded proofs will all be available, as well as three drawings relating to editioned prints. Rare state proofs from Richard Hamilton’s Picasso's meninas , 1973 (estimate: $40,000-60,000), and Braque’s uneditioned L’oiseau bleu, circa 1960 (estimate: $3,000-5,000), will also be included in the auction.

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