The Art of the Surreal Evening Sale will take place on 23 March 2021, a key auction within Christies
series of livestream sales that will see collectors convene in London via our livestreamed salerooms in Hong Kong and New York. The 20th edition of this annual sale dedicated to Surrealism and Dada will be led by three works by Max Ernst, René Magritte and Joan Miró from the Collection of Claude Hersaint, who was one of the most important collectors of Surrealist art. Paintings by Miró and Ernst are offered from a second major collection, 20th Century Modern Masters from a Private French Collection. A presentation of six paintings by René Magritte is highlighted by Le monde poétique (1947, estimate: £3,000,000-5,000,000), La découverte du feu (1936, estimate: £2,000,000-3,000,000) and Les jeunes amours (1963, estimate: £2,000,000-3,000,000). Further highlights include Goutte deau sur la neige rose (1968, estimate: £3,000,000-5,000,000) by Joan Miró and Francis Picabias Baigneuse (circa 1925-26, estimate: £600,000-900,000) as well as Danseuse étoile sur un transatlantique (1913, estimate: £550,000-850,000). The Art of the Surreal Evening Sale brings together the artists that defined one of the most iconic movements of the 20th century, celebrating the diversity and evolution of artists that pioneered new techniques and mediums which had a far reaching influence on the artists working today.
Olivier Camu, Deputy Chairman, Impressionist and Modern Art: We are thrilled to present this extraordinary 20th edition of The Art of the Surreal Evening Sale. It is truly an honour to be able to represent, for the first time, the Hersaint family with three museum quality works; the Magritte, the Miró and the Ernst, which are not only fresh to the market, but are important works for each artist, the likes of which have not been seen at auction yet. These, together with works from an important private French collection, not least Miros 1924 Le piège, formerly in André Bretons collection, form the museum quality core of this sale. Further rare masterpieces such as Magrittes powerful and hyper-realistic 1936 tuba on fire, La découverte du feu, Mirós post-war giant Goutte deau sur la neige rose from 1968, and two rare works by Picabia - his 1913 watercolour Danseuse étoile sur un transatlantique, and Baigneuse, circa 1925-26, from his celebrated Monstre series, complete the strongest sale we have seen in the 20 years since we launched The Art of the Surreal.
The Claude Hersaint Collection
Painted in 1959, Le mois des vendanges (estimate: £10,000,000-15,000,000) is one of the largest and most important works in Magrittes oeuvre. Featuring the iconic, enigmatic figure of the bowler hatted man, it is a pivotal painting which focuses on the view through an open window, where an infinite number of these figures stand, looking back at us, the viewer. As his letters attest, Magritte held the painting in high esteem, writing: at the moment [Le mois des vendanges] is the one which best reminds us how strange reality can be, if one has a sense of reality. Painted on a monumental scale, Joan Mirós Peinture, of 1925 (estimate: £9,000,000-14,000,000) is among the finest of the artists radical and much celebrated dream or oneiric paintings, the series which saw him break through the boundaries of pictorial convention to reach a new form of poetic and abstract art. Painted in 1927, Max Ernsts Cage, forêt, et soleil noir (estimate: £2,000,000-3,000,000) was executed at the height of his involvement with the Surrealist movement and is one of just five paintings of this subject created in 1927 on such a large and impressive scale, of which only two remain in private hands.
20th Century Modern Masters from a Private French Collection
Joan Mirós 1924 composition Le piège (estimate: £3,000,000-5,000,000) showcases the artists earliest forays into a new poetic realm of pictorial expression, inspired by his exposure to Surrealist poetry and writing. Formerly in the collection of André Breton it was painted at the artists farmland of Mont-roig, and features a humorous play of hybrid characters in a magical, enigmatic tableau. Max Ernsts Aux 100,000 colombes (1925, estimate: £1,200,000-1,800,000) emerged during an important time of transition for Ernst when, under the influence of the Surrealist group, he began to explore semi-automatic techniques of art making. It is among the artists first experiments in grattage. Painted in 1927, Mirós Peinture (estimate: £1,400,000-1,800,000) belongs to the artists radical and much celebrated series of oneiric or dream paintings, which he had begun in 1925 while living in Paris.
At first glance, the poetic world that René Magritte has created in Le monde poétique (1947, estimate: £3,000,000-5,000,000) appears untroubling. As with the greatest of Magrittes paintings, what appears to be a simple assortment of objects in a still-life tableau is in fact a beguiling, strange, and enigmatic composition that revels in the boundaries between banality and mystery, the knowable and unknowable, reality and artifice. A spectacularly dramatic vision of a tuba engulfed in flames, La découverte du feu of 1936 (estimate: £2,000,000-3,000,000) is the most fully realised and hyper-realistically painted iteration of René Magrittes celebrated series of works depicting burning objects. As with the bowler hatted man, the motif of the apple has become synonymous with René Magritte and his art. In Les jeunes amours (1963, estimate: £2,000,000-3,000,000), Magritte has not only enlarged the volumetric form of the apples and turned them into an impossible palette of yellow, red, and blue, but has presented these pieces of fruit floating amidst an expansive beach scene. The painting is presented from a British Collection together with works by Óscar Domínguez and Yves Tanguy.
Óscar Domínguez and Yves Tanguy and Joan Miró
Zones dinstabilité (estimate: £900,000-1,200,000) captures the inherent poetry of Yves Tanguys unique pictorial language. Created in 1943, while the artist was living in America, the painting features a collection of bizarre and partially abstract forms, huddled together in the foreground of a mysterious otherworldly landscape. In Óscar Domínguezs Madamme (1937, estimate: £700,000-1,000,000), two amorphous female characters intertwine in a mysterious dance, their elegant, statuesque bodies appearing at once solid and liquid, stationary and flowing, blending into one another as they embrace. Goutte deau sur la neige rose (1968, estimate: £3,000,000-5,000,000) is painted on an enormous scale and illustrates the important influence of Japanese art and poetry on Mirós works throughout the 1960s.
In Baigneuse (circa 1925-26, estimate: £600,000-900,000), a bather is seen emerging from the bright blue water, her towering form portrayed in brilliant, clashing colours using oil and Ripolin paint. From Picabias famous Monstre series, Baigneuse reflects the artists ongoing interest in popular imagery and the heady life of parties and recreation he was enjoying on the French riviera. Danseuse étoile sur un transatlantique (1913, estimate: $550,000-850,000) is one of Picabias rarely seen cubistic period compositions which was exhibited in Stieglitzs 291 Gallery in Picabias first mythical show in New York in 1913. The majority of the Picabia works exhibited there are now housed in museums.