Over 150 items from the collection of Artcurial
s Honorary Chairman Hervé Poulain and his wife will come under the hammer on 17 May. Entitled The Native Americans as seen by Europeans 1800-1960, the selection of work includes sculptures, paintings, photographs, comic strips and folk art.
Among items dating from the end of the 18th century, the 19th and early 20th centuries, are pieces that pay tribute to the creativity of Native Americans, notably the Navajo rugs so admired by Andy Warhol.
Originally started by the couple with the simple objective of decorating their house in Sologne, as time went by the collection of furnishings took a particular and original direction, focusing on how European artists have represented the Native Americans.
Notable highlights of this diverse selection of works includes a gouache by Guy Arnoux entitled Le général Lafayette et les chefs regroupés dans la Confédération des Six Tribus estimated at 50 000 - 60 000 . The oil on canvas by Edmont Tapissier Les Indiens d Amérique, exhibited in Seattle in 1902 has an estimate of 30 000 - 40 000 . The multicoloured wooden sculpture, 1.94m in height, Couple d Amérindiens is another key lot in the sale, offered with an estimate of 40 000 - 60 000 .
Coming from the imagination of painters and sculptors who had not been to America, or had travelled there very little, using diverse and often unreliable sources to illustrate their works, these Petits-Maîtres gave free rein to fantastic and stereotypical creations, far removed from the ethnographic, historical and political concerns of their colleagues in the New World.
Removed from the propagandist influences of the painters of the Frontier assigned to promote the Legend of the West, these artists, following writers such as Baudelaire, Georges Sand and Chateaubriand, expressed a sincere empathy, tinged with a certain fantasy, for these hardy and brave souls of ancient times, distanced from the onslaught of civilisation, as imagined by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, before experiencing, very late, the ethnocide and ravages of the conquest of the West.
In this context, it was the Plains Indians, with their feathered headdresses, their spotted horses and buffalos, as well as the indigenous people of British Columbia who fired their imagination and lent themselves to allegory.
Hervé Poulain, lhomme accéléré
Hervé Poulain is an emblematic figure in the art world who has orchestrated sales in all specialities with aplomb since 1969.
In the specialist field of collectors cars, he has played a major role in raising this to the level of the Fine Arts. Wanting to combine his passions of Contemporary Art and Speed, Poulain invented the concept of the Art Car.
Taking part eleven times in the Le Mans 24 Hour Race, he commissioned renowned artists such as Calder, Lichtenstein, Stella, Arman, Warhol César and Wolinski, to paint the cars he raced.
He established auctions of collectors cars and automobilia in 1974.
In 2010, keen to sustain this speciality within the auction house Artcurial, he convinced Matthieu Lamoure and Pierre Novikoff to take over the department, to his great satisfaction and honour. More than a trio, they formed a triumvirate! The three accomplices bring a unique ambiance to their sales, thanks to their knowledge, authority and enthusiasm.
Hervé Poulain is the author of six art books: LArt et lAutomobile (1973), Un Siècle de peinture française (1976), Une Collection dAvance (1986), LArt, la Femme et lAutomobile (1989), Mes Pop Cars (2006), Le marteau et son maître (2010).
Hervé Poulain is the founding president of SYMEV (Syndicat National des Maisons de Ventes aux Enchères) and the founding president of CNMA (Conseil National du Marché de lArt). He is also the Honorary Chairman of Artcurial.