Artcurial to offer the personal collection of art dealer Maurice Garnier

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Artcurial to offer the personal collection of art dealer Maurice Garnier
Maurice and Ida Garnier at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, April 1991 © Galerie Maurice Garnier.

PARIS.- On Tuesday 8 and Wednesday 9 December, as part of its major Modern & Impressionist Art sales, Artcurial will present the «Maurice Garnier Collection, Ida Garnier Estate» sale. Over 60 works from the personal collection of Maurice and Ida Garnier, coming from their apartment on Quai d’Orsay in Paris, will be offered for sale. This group of works was assembled by Maurice Garnier throughout a professional career that spanned almost 70 years. He acquired this work privately, wanting to keep paintings by the artists he represented in his home.

A renowned art dealer from the second half of the 20th century, Maurice Garnier (1920 - 2014), who opened his first gallery in Paris in 1946, represented some fifteen major 20th century artists. He took the decision in 1977 to dedicate himself exclusively to just one of these artists, Bernard Buffet, continuing to represent his work after the artist died in 1999. In 2009 he set up the Bernard Buffet Endowment Fund to establish a museum in France. This was a unique “artist-dealer” relationship that was remarkable for its loyalty and duration, lasting over 50 years. Talking about Bernard Buffet in an interview for Les Echos Week-End in 2011, Maurice Garnier said : « I met a genius. Why would you want me to look elsewhere? » The Maurice Garnier gallery, in Avenue Matignon, continues to represent the work of Bernard Buffet today, under the direction of Céline Lévy, Ida and Maurice Garnier’s granddaughter.

Artcurial will offer work by some 26 artists in this special sale, which features four canvases by Bernard Buffet including Deux clowns trompette from 1989, estimated at 400 000 - 600 000 €. There will also be an important group of work by Jean Fautrier, from the 1930s (still lifes and nudes) and an oil on canvas by Kees Von Dongen, La femme au miroir, circa 1925, estimated at 1 - 1,5 M€. In addition, there will be paintings by Marcel Gromaire, Edouard Goerg, André Marchand, Jean Carzou, Jean Jansem, Pierre-Yves Trémois, André Minaux, Jean Commère, Michel de Gallard and the magnificent Cheval au pas levé by Edgar Degas (estimate : 100 000 - 150 000 €).

« Maurice Garnier was a discreet yet highly influential dealer. Through this sale, we discover the secret garden of someone passionate about their era. » --Bruno Jaubert, Director of the Impressionist & Modern Art department, Artcurial

Maurice Garnier (1920- 2014), art dealer
Maurice Garnier owed his vocation to a meeting with Emmanuel David, the galeriste at 52, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris, at the end of the war in 1945. Inspired by what he saw, Maurice Garner decided to become an ‘art dealer’ himself (he hated the term “galeriste”). And so a year later, at the age of 26, Garner opened his first gallery, Galerie Visconti, at 35, rue de Seine. He applied himself wholeheartedly to discovering young talent as well as selling renowned artists’ paintings.

His life as a dealer began in 1948. While attending the Prix de la Jeune Peinture at the Galerie Drouant-David, Maurice Garnier came across the painting Le Buveur by Bernard Buffet (1928 - 1999). It was the first time he had seen work by this 19-year old artist, and it made an immediate impression. « What struck me was his work. It was so different to all the other artists. Much stronger and more distinctive. », he explained in an interview with Christophe Berteaux in 2002. Emmanuel David and Maurice Garnier signed a contract to represent Bernard Buffet jointly.

In 1956, the two dealers opened Galerie David et Garnier and exhibited work by artists such as Jean Fautrier, Marcel Gromaire as well as younger artists, Michel de Gallard, Jean Jansem, Jean Carzou and André Minaux. In 1968, Maurice Garnier took sole charge of the gallery, re-naming it Galerie Maurice Garnier and devoting himself exclusively to Bernard Buffet from 1977. In 2009, he set up the Bernard Buffet Endowment fund which today holds 350 works by the artist for the creation of a museum in France.

A personal collection, reflecting his work as a dealer
Throughout his life, Maurice Garnier privately acquired works of art by the artists he represented. The sale will present some sixty works by over twenty-five 20th century artists. There will be four oil paintings by Bernard Buffet, including Deux clowns trompette from 1989, estimated at 400 000 - 600 000 € and Clown guitariste - 1999, estimated at 250 000 - 350 000 €.

The collection highlights the work of artists who were pioneers in their field. Kees van Dongen is represented by an oil on canvas La femme au miroir, painted around 1925, estimated at 1 - 1,5 M€. There is also a selection of works by Jean Fautrier, considered to be the major precursor of the art informel movement and an important figure in the revival of modern art after cubism. The pieces in the sale comprise still lifes and a nude painted in 1927, La jolie fille, estimated at 60 000 - 80 000 €. Marcel Gromaire whose highly personal art has a style influenced by cubism and Flemish expressionism, also appears in the sale, with two oils, including Nu doré sur rouge from 1951 (estimate: 50 000 - 80 000 €).

Other highlights include a group of works by Edouard Goerg, a major figure in the expressionist movement, and by Jean Carzou, whose illustrations interpreted novels by great authors, with a unique style set apart from the major movements of the day.

The items of sculpture in the Maurice and Ida Garnier Collection include César’s Insecte ou Insecte Rosine in black patinated bronze, created between 1955 and 1979, Kamakura -1987, a bronze by Georges Jeanclos, Antoniucci Volti’s Nu accroupi in bronze with a blue-green black patina and two pieces by Robert Moninot.

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