Christie's France announces highlights included in the Post-War & Contemporary Art sale

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Christie's France announces highlights included in the Post-War & Contemporary Art sale
Pierre Soulages, Peinture 117 x 130 cm, 21 mars 2007. Estimate: €700,000 - 1,000,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2020.

PARIS.- On December 5, Christie's France's Contemporary Art department will offer a selection of 139 works, with an overall estimate of around €9 million. The sale aims to attract a broad spectrum of collectors, with the works on offer covering different periods and including a section dedicated to American art - with works by Roy Lichtenstein, Sam Francis, Andy Warhol, Wesselmann and Robert Rauschenberg, a post-war section - including artists such as Nicolas de Staël, Serge Poliakoff, Jean Paul Riopelle and Maria Helena Vieira da Silva - and finally a more contemporary section presenting works by Imi Knoebel, William Kentridge, Louise Bourgeois and Tracey Emin.

This sale will open with a tribute to a Parisian collecting couple with an extremely assertive taste: Pierrette and Pierre Souleil. Eternally curious and insatiable discoverers, the Souleils have throughout their lives lived for art, beginning their collection with major artists of modern art and post-war painting, among whom are included in the very fine selection of 27 works we will be presenting major works by Dubuffet and Fautrier, in particular a rare sculpture by the latter, Femme Debout (estimate €100. 000-150,000), another version of which featured prominently in the artist's last retrospective at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Far from being classic, their collection has very quickly taken a contemporary turn, including international artists such as Kiefer, Baselitz and Penck, as well as Wesselmann, Rauschenberg, Fontana and Roy Lichtenstein with Brush Stroke Still Life with Lamp (estimate: €120,000-180,000), which will be presented for the first time at auction in France.

The highlight of the sale is a painting by Pierre Soulages, Peinture 117 x 130 cm, March 21, 2007, estimated at €700,000-1,000,000 belonging to his famous outrenoir period. Deep traces run obliquely through the painting, forming two separations at the third of the painting which give rhythm to the canvas. The canvas is then articulated in reliefs of shadow and brightness, step of a luminous dance that finds its partner in the viewer.

The sale will also feature a selection of works from the iconic collection of Mireille and James Lévy, part of which will be offered in the New York sale on December 3 and then in the Paris sale on December 5. The proceeds from this sale will go to support their Foundation, which has been working for decades on various philanthropic missions. The sale will feature a number of key artists who are considered pioneers in their field by this passionate couple, notably through Jime Dine's The Greys of Spring, painted in 1981 (estimate: €80,000-120,000) and Dream House XIV, a monumental sculpture by Louise Nevelson (estimate: €100,000-150,000). The auction will also reflect the taste of collectors who were able to create original dialogues between artists, such as Bernar Venet and Max Bill.

Coming from an important German private collection, Christie's is honored to offer for the first time for sale an exceptional set of three works fundamental to the work of the Catalan artist, Antoni Tàpies. They reflect the intimate passion that has animated their owner for more than half a century. A passionate yet committed collector, he will be one of the main architects of the introduction of Tàpies' work in Germany and a staunch defender of his work. These three works were loaned to the Landesmuseum in Mainz and then to the Neues Museum in Nüremberg from 1998 to the present day so that they could be made accessible to the public. Among these three works is Forma de crucificat, painted in 1959 (estimate: €300,000-600,000), which holds a very important place in his work. The cross appears as a field of investigation for the artist. The bust, through its treatment, coats the material of the walls that he explores in his painting. This treatment of the body also places it in the lineage of Dubuffet's Corps de dame or Fautrier's Otages. Both, like Tàpies, by pushing back the limits of pictorial matter, sought to retranscribe a certain idea of the human condition. Forma de Crucificat invites the viewer to question their own perception of the subject.

The Spanish art scene will also be excellently represented with a major work by Manolo Millares, Animal de Fondo (1) from 1965 (estimate: €400,000-600,000), which is a perfect example of the artist's exploration of the limits of the canvas, distorting and mishandling it in order to propose an attempt at renewing painting in the immediate post-war period.

In the same vein of questioning the canvas as a support for the work, the Contemporary Art Department will present two very beautiful works by Simon Hantai, echoing two different and complementary periods in the artist's life. On the one hand, with Untitled (Coat of the Virgin) (estimate: €300.000-500.000) which immediately follows on from the iconic series of the Marianas considered one of the most important for his work where the painter introduced the very concept of folding while continuing to experiment with the juxtaposition of colors as here with intense ultramarine blues. On the other hand, with Etude de 1969 (estimate: €400,000-600,000), an immense composition in which a bright green is intermingled with the immaculate white areas left in reserve from the folding process, which demonstrates all the maturity and mastery that the artist achieved in his renunciation of the traditional gesture of the painter.

Finally, the Ecole de Paris will be, as always, particularly well represented thanks to a beautiful selection of the most emblematic artists of the French post-war period, starting with Maria Helena Vieira da Silva with a beautiful 1970 canvas, Jardin Illogique (estimate: €250,000-350,000) with a subtle palette of blues and greys which creates a visual labyrinth where one enjoys getting lost. Among the lots in the spotlight, let us also mention an intense canvas with a juxtaposition of colored touches and impasto, entitled La Crau of 1956, by Jean Paul Riopelle (estimate: €200.000-300.000) or a particularly intense and balanced composition of reds and blues by Serge Poliakoff painted in 1959 (estimate: €200.000-300.000). Bram van Velde, Hans Hartung but also a very important painting by Pierre Alechinsky, Dr Livingstone, I Presume? from 1960 from the former personal collection of Romain Gary. The sale will also stick to current events by presenting an impressive composition by Martin Barré, 90-91-126 x 126-B (1990-91) (estimate: €80,000- 120,000), which echoes the very beautiful retrospective dedicated to the artist at the Centre Pompidou and which was also present in the first part of the retrospective put on at the beginning of the year by MAMCO Geneva.

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