The Secret Garden of Paul Haim: Christie's to offer 41 monumental sculptures this October

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The Secret Garden of Paul Haim: Christie's to offer 41 monumental sculptures this October
Zao Wou-Ki (1920-2013), Untitled. Mosaic on concrete wall, 1984. 190 x 757 x 8 cm. Estimate: €1,000,000-2,000,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2020.

PARIS.- On October 22nd, in parallel with the FIAC, Christie's will offer 41 monumental sculptures from the fantastic collection of the art dealer Paul Haim in a dedicated auction. Since his death in 2006, Dominique, Haim’s daughter, has been overseeing the collection.

All of these works were housed in La Petite Escalère, a secret garden nestling along the Adour, a short distance from Bayonne and Biarritz. "But the road I prefer, and which I often voluntarily take pleasure in, is the one that follows the right bank of the Adour; it is an old towpath, dotted with farms and beautiful houses. I undoubtedly love it for its naturalness, this mix of nobility and familiarity that is typical of the Southwest [...] reports Roland Barthes, French philosopher who grew up in the area and lived opposite Paul Haim. Rarely open to the public, this garden hidden in lush vegetation was only open to a privileged few. Artists, friends and members of the association of the friends of La Petite Escalère have all made it possible to keep this place alive for many years.

The garden adventure began at the end of the 1960s when Paul and his wife, the photographer and painter Jeannette Leroy, decided to settle on the Basque Coast. Paul Haim had become a reputable dealer in Paris, known for introducing Japanese audience to impressionist and modern art. He met a multitude of artists, some of whom became friends with the couple, including Zao Wou-Ki and Roberto Matta. He also met Dina Vierny, a great collector and model for Aristide Maillol whose important sculpture will be presented in the sale. Working together with Rhodia Bourdelle, the daughter of Emile-Antoine Bourdelle, Paul Haim worked for many years promoting his work in Japan. The exhibitions devoted to Bourdelle or Rodin that he organised in Japan are landmarks in the historiography of these artists. His travels in Japan also allowed him to meet personalities of the cultural world such as the great Japanese collector, Shikanai Nobutaka, owner of Fuji Television. This art lover founded in 1969 the Hakone Open-air museum in which there is a pavilion dedicated to Picasso created through Paul's initiative.

Within a few years, the small farm along the Adour that had seduced them grew by several hectares. In the course of these events, Paul Haim kept works for his own collection that had been installed in the garden. Little by little, the collection grew with ever more contemporary sculptures.

Gilbert Carty, the gardener at La Petite Escalère, worked with Paul and Jeannette to provide an appropriate setting for the sculptures. Railway sleepers form a path through the middle of a bamboo grove, a vegetable garden and undergrowth. Visitors are then surprised by examples of the most important sculptural artists of the 20th century.

Emile-Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1929), Alexander Calder (1898-1976), Augustin Cardenas (1927-2001), Anthony Caro (1924-2013), Eduardo Chillida (1924-2002), Mark di Suvero (1933-), Fernand Léger (1881-1955), Aristide Maillol (1861-1944), Etienne Martin (1913-1995), Joan Miró (1893-1983), Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988), Jorge de Oteiza (1908-2003), Jaumes Plensa (1955-), Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), Niki de Saint-Phalle (1930-2002), Zao Wou-Ki (1920-2013) are presented within the sale.

Dominique Haim: " In creating this garden, Paul, Jeannette and Gilbert were far from imagining what it would become one day. In the same way, when I took over, I could not have imagined how much I would experience thanks to him. I can't tell you how much this garden has pleased all of us - La Petite Escalère was a fluke. An extraordinary and beautiful adventure that lasted half a century.”

Pierre Martin-Vivier, Vice President of Christie's, head of the sale: " It is an honour for Christie's to be entrusted with this collection of sculptures that trace the extraordinary journey of Paul Haim who, together with Jeannette Leroy, made this garden a place as wonderful as it was unexpected." The sale’s exhibition, hosted at Kering’s headquarters in the former Laennec hospital, is set to be the back-to-school event and we would like to especially thank our shareholder for making this possible".

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