Magritte and Boccioni share the limelight in New York
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Magritte and Boccioni share the limelight in New York
Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916), Forme uniche della continuità nello spazio (Unique Forms of Continuity in Space), conceived in 1913 and cast in 1972. Bronze. Length: 35 in (89 cm). Sold for $16,165,000 on 11 November 2019 at Christie’s in New York.

NEW YORK, NY.- The 20th Century season in New York got off to a fast start with the Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale, which totalled $191,911,500. The auction of 58 lots was 90 per cent sold by lot and 96 per cent by value.

The first four lots came from the James and Marilynn Alsdorf Collection, among 13 owned by the renowned Chicago collectors and philanthropists to be offered in the sale. They included the top lot of the night: René Magritte’s Le seize septembre (1957), which cruised past its high estimate to sell for $19,570,000 (including buyer’s premium).

While it did not quite take top billing, Umberto Boccioni’s Forme uniche della continuità nello spazio (Unique Forms of Continuity in Space) certainly made its presence felt. This was the first time in almost 50 years that a Boccioni cast had come to market, and a prolonged bidding battle ensued before the bronze was won at $16,165,000 (against a high estimate of $4.5 million) — a new world auction record for the artist.

Completing the top three was Pablo Picasso’s Femme dans un fauteuil (Françoise), which realised $13,327,500. Executed between 29 December 1948 and 1 January 1949, the painting is a celebration of the artist’s lover, Françoise Gilot, who was pregnant with their daughter Paloma at the time. It was one of nine Picasso works to feature in the sale.

Collections performed well, with strong results for paintings owned by the Alsdorfs. Anémones au miroir noir, a 1919 still life by Henri Matisse, fetched $5,269,000 (against a high estimate of $3 million); Pfeil zum Kreis by Wassily Kandinsky (1930) realised $3,375,000; and Picasso’s La Madone à la guirlande, a 1904 gouache and watercolour on paper, sold for $2,895,000. With further works to be offered in the days ahead, the collection total stands at $42,605,000.

The Collection of Terry Allen Kramer, the Tony Award-winning Broadway producer and ‘Grand Dame of Palm Beach’, also proved to be popular among buyers.

Camille Pissarro’s Jardin et poulailler chez Octave Mirbeau, Les Damps (1892) comfortably passed its high estimate before selling for $10,263,000; Picasso’s Buste d’homme, which had not been seen on the market for more than 25 years, realised $9,355,000; and Salvador Dalí’s Naissance de l’ameublement paranoïaque, a preparatory drawing for his iconic Mae West Lips Sofa, passed its high estimate to sell at $1,095,000, taking the collection total to $21,808,000.

It was a good night for Surrealism, too, with impressive results for works by Dalí, Tanguy and Magritte, including Le Sabbat from 1959, which realised $9,922,500.

Among a number of impressive results on the night, two stand-outs were Tamara De Lempicka’s Les jeunes filles from circa 1930, which realised $5,269,000 — more than twice its low estimate; and Renoir’s Buste de jeune fille au ruban bleu, which inspired considerable interest and sold for $1,455,000.

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