Friday, October 17, 2014

Christie’s Impressionist & Modern Art November 5: Manet. Leger, Magritte, Monet, Renoir, Picasso, Braque, Pissarro, Miro, Schiele

Christie’s upcoming Evening Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art at Rockefeller Center on November 5 will be led by two pivotal works of the Impressionist and Modern movements –  Edouard Manet’s Le Printemps (estimate: $25-35 million) and Fernand Léger’s Les constructeurs avec arbre ($16-22 million). 

Fernand Léger’s Les constructeurs avec arbre, (estimate: $16-22 million), is an important example from the artist’s rarely offered and highly coveted Constructors series. Known as the “painter of the machine age”, Léger was captivated by themes of construction and engineering, using them in his work as a symbol of man’s creative power in an industrialized modern world. In the years 1949-1950, he painted Les constructeurs avec arbre, using it as the model for the what would become the final acclaimed painting in this series, Les constructeurs à l’aloès.
  • The Constructor series is Léger's homage to the salt-of-the-earth working man, both as a class within French society and in the industrialized world generally, and as a more universal symbol of homo faber — man the maker and builder.
  • The emphasis that Léger devoted to the configuration of the four workmen in this study resulted in this picture becoming the most strongly characterized of the large compositions in this series.
  • At the upper left, one of the four construction workers perched on the girders of this building-in-progress is applying his muscular physique to the job. Two other men exchange greetings, and the fourth, perhaps a member of the architectural team that designed this structure, gazes dreamily away from the scene. This figure is thought to be Léger’s portrayal of himself as a young man.

Currently on an international tour to Asia and Europe, the top lot of the Evening Sale is Edouard Manet’s masterpiece portrait, Le Printemps (estimate: $25-35 million). Encapsulating all the major themes of the early modern period, from nature and femininity to society and fashion, Springtime is one of Manet’s best known and most widely reproduced works, and perfectly exemplifies the revolutionary style that Manet embraced.
  • The portrait depicts the actress Jeanne Demarsy, cast as an allegory of spring. She also appears in the background of Manet’s iconic scene Un bar aux Folies-Bergere. Both paintings were exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1882, and together they sealed Manet’s fame as a titan of modern-era painting.
  • This masterwork comes completely fresh to the market, having remained in the same collection for over a century and been on loan for the last two decades at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.    Of the 30 paintings that Manet exhibited at the Salon over the course of his lifetime, this is the last remaining in private hands.
  • Proceeds from its sale will benefit a private American foundation supporting environmental, public health and other charitable causes.s. 
  • Click here to view the complete press release.

In keeping with growing demand for Surrealist works, particularly by René Magritte, Christie’s is pleased to present three important works by the Belgian master, each representing a distinct period and theme in the artist’s career.

  • Mesdemoiselles de l’Isle Adam belonged to Gustave Nellens, owner of the seaside Casino Communal at Knokke-Le-Zoute in Belgium, who commissioned Magritte in 1953 to design the  panoramic mural Le domaine enchanté.
  • Monumental in size, Mesdemoiselles de l’Isle Adam, encompasses two of the artist’s signature elements, the nude female, and a blue sky, which Magritte fashions as both the background and the foreground with his dexterous use of cut-outs.

  • Magritte painted L’ombre céleste in 1927, in the first of three years that he spent in Paris. Magritte’s time in Paris has been described as the most creative period in his career.
  • This work was included in MoMA’s controversial and groundbreaking exhibition, Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealismfrom December 1936-January 1937.
  • L’ombre celeste was acquired by Beth Straus in the early 1960’s from the New Art Center in New York, with whom it remained until 1976, when the present owner received it by descent.

  • The artist explained the title, La vie privée, saying “Every person has a private life which, on further acquaintance, can be perceived as through a window”.

Egon Schiele’s Stadt am blauen Fluss (Krumau)was executed in the summer of 1910, at a critical turning point in the artist’s career (estimate: $800,000-1,200,000)  Schiele traded the claustrophobic confines of Vienna for the summer in favor of the Bohemian landscape, seeking to pare down his style of landscape painting to its most essential elements, just as he had with figure painting previously.  The metamorphosis can be seen in 10 landscape paintings from that summer though the present landscape is one of only three outdoor subjects executed that year in non-opaque watercolor.
  • Schiele visualized the scene from a bluff overlooking the Moldau River, gazing toward a bend in the river on the eastern outskirts of the medieval Bohemian town of Krumau.
  • In contrast to the technique of post-Impressionist brushwork, Schiele allowed his fluid colors loose rein, contained within a framework of quickly drawn lines; the composition of Stadt am blauen Fluss is a startling demonstration of distance and space, stacked vertically in the flat modernist manner.
  • This rare landscape represents one of the most stunning stylistic transformations to have been achieved in 20thcentury painting.   Stadt am blauen Fluss is being offered for sale pursuant to the successful resolution of a restitution settlement agreement between the consignor and the Grünbaum Heirs, which allows for clear title to the work.
Among the other works to be sold

Impressionist :




    Thursday, October 16, 2014

    Alice Neel My Animals and Other Family

    14 October – 19 December 2014
    Victoria Miro Mayfair, 14 St George Street, London W1S 1FE

    One of the foremost and most engaging twentieth century American portraitists, Neel produced a body of work that is intimate, casual, personal and direct.

    Neel was a keen observer of life, and in addition to her penetrating studies of people, she focused her attention on her surroundings, be it in the form of still life, landscape or impromptu vignette. Within the domestic habitat of her family, animals—especially cats and dogs—were a part of her daily life. As a result, over the course of her career from the 1930s until her death in 1984, we find fascinating examples of works that include or focus on particular animals. This exhibition features a group of paintings and drawings in which Neel captures the character and spirit of people and of animals.

    In her animal portrayals as in her other work, Neel responded directly to what was in front of her. With all her subjects, human and animal, Neel had a talent for identifying particular gestures and mannerisms that reveal the singular and unique identities of her sitters.

    Neel’s portrayal of animals in her work was varied. In some paintings they were presented in conjunction with a person in a portrait, other times as a vignette of daily life, sometimes they were rendered from memory and occasionally they were presented as an actual, very individual portrait.

    In many of these works a human figure is seen with a dog or cat in double portraits that convey a sense of the bond between human and animal. 

    Eddie Zuckermandel and the Cat shows the titular subject seated behind a table, a small Siamese cat in his lap. The two characters are lit from above, casting their faces in a similar deep triangular shadow.

     In Carol and the Dog, the blonde hair, fair skin and pale green dress of the woman contrast with the black fur and deep red eyes of the poodle by her side. In her painting of Lushka, 1974, the dog is clearly the subject of what we would actually call a portrait. Like her paintings of people, Neel presents the dog in a frontal position, looking straight at the artist and the viewer.

    In contrast with these studies from life, Nadya and the Wolf 

    and Lushka, 1970

    have a more enigmatic quality, in which the sitters appear to be taking part in an ambiguous mythological or metaphorical scenario.

    Neel’s animals can be seen as human companions, but equally they are characters in their own right, as colourful and specific as the people portrayed by the artist. This exhibition represents a cross-section of this fascinating and diverse body of work.

    Recent posthumous solo exhibitions have included Alice Neel: Intimate Relations at Nordiska Akvarellmuseet, Skarhamn (2013); Alice Neel: Painted Truths, a retrospective that toured to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (2010), the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (2010) and the Moderna Museet, Malmö (2010-11); Collector of Souls at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2008) and Alice Neel, organised by the Philadelphia Museum of Art that travelled to the Whitney Museum of American Art (2000). Her work is in the collections of major museums including the the Art Institute of Chicago; the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; the Denver Art Museum; the Milwaukee Art Museum; the Moderna Museet, Stockholm; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; Tate, London and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. 

    Outstanding article, lots more images

    Spectacular Rubens: The Triumph of the Eucharist

    In the early 1620s Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 15771640) designed a series of 20 tapestries celebrating the glory of the Roman Catholic Church for the Spanish governor-general of the Netherlands, the Infanta Isabel Clara Eugenia (15661633). Spectacular Rubens: The Triumph of the Eucharist reunites Rubens’s exuberant oil sketches painted for this commission with the monumental original tapestries, the largest number of works for the Eucharist series assembled in over half a century. The exhibition presents an unrivaled opportunity to experience the Baroque master’s extraordinary impact on both an intimate and a monumental scale.

    On view at the Getty Museum October 14, 2014 through January 11, 2015, Spectacular Rubens features six spirited painted modelli from the collection of the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid; four of the original tapestries, among the most celebrated treasures of the nearby Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales (Convent of the Barefoot Royals), in a rare loan from the Patrimonio Nacional; and several other paintings related to the Eucharist series by Rubens from local and national collections. 

    The Madrid modelli have recently been conserved at the Prado with the support of a grant from the Getty Foundation through its Panel Paintings Initiative. The exhibition was organized by the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Museo Nacional del Prado in association with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and in collaboration with the Patrimonio Nacional.

    The Victory of the Eucharist over Idolatry, about 1622-25. Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577 - 1640). Oil on panel. 25 9/16 x 35 13/16 in. Image courtesy of the Photographic Archive, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid.

    The Triumph of the Eucharist tapestries were commissioned by the Infanta Isabel Clara Eugenia as a gift to the Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales (Convent of the Barefoot Royals) in Madrid and have been in regular use there for almost 400 years. They decorated the convent church on two important events marked by elaborate ceremonyGood Friday and the Octave of Corpus Christiand were sometimes displayed for other special circumstances. On select occasions they may even have been hung on the outside of the building.

    Designing the Triumph of the Eucharist Tapestries

    “Rubens’s creative exhilaration radiates from the energetic brushwork of the preparatory oil sketches and within each of the huge tapestries,” says Anne Woollett, curator of paintings at the Getty Museum and curator of the exhibition. “The Eucharist series reveal the enormous powers of invention of one of the most learned painters of the period. Rubens drew on a wide range of classical and Christian iconography and traditional allegories of Good versus Evil to express the spiritual victory of the Catholic Church over its foes.”

    The 20 tapestries Rubens designed together formed a complex illusionistic decoration for the interior of the convent church in Madrid. Remarkably, he devised the series in his Antwerp studio based on second-hand descriptions of the church. The tapestries portray a splendid architectural setting in which small angels hang fictional tapestries depicting dramatic Eucharist subjects. The exact arrangement of the tapestries in the church is unknown. However, two different viewpoints within the compositions and a sketch by Rubens for the choir wall suggest the large hangings were intended to be installed in two levels, one atop the other.

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    The Triumph of the Church, about 1622 - 1625. Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577 - 1640). Oil on panel. 32 3/8 x 49 x 1 15/16 in. Image courtesy of the Photographic Archive, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid.

    Powerful figures in motion, rich color, as well as the narrative of angels unfurling fictive “tapestries” connect individual compositions. Playful illusions and spatial ambiguities appear in many scenes, as Rubens created different levels of reality in the main scenes of the Eucharistic subjects themselves, as well as the illusionistic architecture, stone framework, garlands and angels.

    The 20 pieces that constituted the Infanta Isabel Clara Eugenia’s gift to the convent may have been woven over a span of several years, from about 1625 to 1633. The tapestries were woven in Brussels by two of the most prominent tapestry workshops, headed by Jan Raes I and Jacob Geubels II, with the assistance of two other weavers.

    Rubens was a leading tapestry designer, and the Eucharist series was the third and largest series of his career. Making no concessions to the weavers, Rubens designed complex scenes with illusionistic effects in the manner of large-scale paintings. Large expanses of bare flesh, often in dynamic, foreshortened poses, challenged weavers to create volume with gradations of delicate hues for modeling. His demanding compositions advanced tapestry production toward a more pictorial effect.

    The Patron

    The Infanta Isabel Clara Eugenia was the eldest and favored child of Philip II (15271598) and Isabel of Valois (15451568). Raised at the Spanish court, she had a profound sense of religious obligation and familial duty from an early age. She was also exposed to the extraordinary art collection of Philip II, who favored Titian and Flemish painting.

    She and her husband Cardinal-Archduke Albert of Austria (15591621) ruled the Southern Netherlands (a region corresponding roughly to the country of Belgium today) as co-sovereigns, establishing a solid Catholic state after decades of conflict and suffering. Following Archduke Albert’s death in 1621, Isabel Clara Eugenia exchanged her court dress for the habit of a pious nun (in the manner of “Poor Clare”) and stayed in Brussels as Governor-General. For the remaining twelve years of her life, she assiduously waged military and diplomatic campaigns to secure peace in the Thirty Years’ War and success for the Spanish crown. Tremendously popular, she was mourned at her death in 1633 as a model of virtue.

    Isabel Clara Eugenia with Magdalena Ruiz, 1585 1588. Alonso Sánchez Coello (Portugese, active in Spain, 1531 - 1588). Oil on canvas. 92 x 61 13/16 x 3 3/8 in. Image courtesy of the Photographic Archive, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid.

    At the time of the commission for the Eucharist tapestries, Rubens was at the height of an illustrious career. After early training in Antwerp and eight years in Italy and Spain, he accepted the generous terms of Archduke Albert and Infanta Isabel Clara Eugenia to become their court painter in 1609. Painting intense devotional works as well as captivating mythologies, among many other subjects, Rubens gave form to the values of the cultured Brussels court. After Albert’s death in 1621, he also served the Infanta in a diplomatic capacity and was rewarded for his success with a knighthood by Philip IV. Patron and painter shared a deep spiritual conviction that infuses the Eucharist series.

    The Triumph of the Church, 1626 1633. Woven in Brussels by Jan Raes I (Flemish, 1574 - 1651) after designs by Peter Paul Rubens
    (Flemish, 1577 - 1640). Image courtesy of the PATRIMONIO NACIONAL, Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales, Madrid. Photograph
    by Bruce White. 

    The Victory of the Eucharist over Idolatry," by Peter Paul Rubens. Tapestry.

    Panel Paintings Conservation

    The oak panels of the six modelli for the Eucharist series in the collection of the Museo Nacional del Prado were painstakingly conserved between 2011 and 2013 to address the cracks and distortions caused by centuries-old alterations. With a grant from the Getty Foundation through the Panel Paintings Initiative, expert panel conservators completed structural treatment of the paintings as part of a program for panel specialists. Once the stabilization was complete, the pictorial surfaces were treated. This project is the second partnership with the Museo del Prado, and the only Panel Painting Initiative project to be featured at the Getty Museum.

    Prior to the Getty’s presentation, the exhibition was on view at the Prado Museum in Madrid from March 25, 2014 through June 29, 2014. After the Getty, the exhibition will travel to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston from February 15, 2015 through May 10, 2015.

    Also on view

    Concurrent to Spectacular Rubens, the Getty Museum will present Drawing in the Age of Rubens on view October 14, 2014 through January 11, 2015. Featuring Flemish drawings from the Museum’s collection, the exhibition bears witness to the flourishing of artistic culture in the southern Netherlands from the 16th to 17th centuries, and will include drawings by Rubens and his pupils, predecessors and contemporaries. The survey includes landscapes, figural studies and religious subjects.

    Related Publication

    In relation to the exhibition, a lushly illustrated volume of the same title, co-produced by Getty Publications and the Museo Nacional del Prado, provides new insight and information about the series. The book presents stunning photography of the paintings and tapestries, which are testaments to the brilliance of this master artist of the Baroque period.

    Wednesday, October 15, 2014

    Louvre Abu Dhabi Opens with Spectacular Loans

    Louvre Abu Dhabi aspires to be a universal museum that highlights interconnections, exchanges and conversations between civilizations and the similarities and differences between their artistic traditions. When the museum opens, approximately half of the art works displayed will be from its own collection and half will be loans from leading French museums. Both acquisitions and loaned works have been chosen and assembled with two criteria in mind: their intrinsic merits and their relevance to the narrative thread of the exhibition itinerary.

    Some of the most remarkable items loaned by French museums are presented below.

    Woman Portrait, also called La Belle Ferronnière
    Leonardo da Vinci
    Milan, Italy, 1495-1499
    Wood (noyer)
    Musée du Louvre, Paintings Departement
    © Musée du Louvre, dist. RMN / Angèle Dequier

    Leonardo da Vinci is probably one of the most famous and popular artists in the history of art. Louvre Abu Dhabi will have the opportunity to display one of his most attractive works - a portrait of an elegantly dressed young woman painted when the artist was based in Milan. Thematically, this picture will illustrate Renaissance artists' quest for naturalism with the aid of the new technique of oil painting. It will echo Louvre Abu Dhabi's own Bellini’s Madonna and Child, also painted in oil on wood, another head-and-shoulders portrait in which the figure is depicted behind a parapet and against a dark background.

    Woman with a Mirror
    Tiziano Vecellio, known as Titian
    Venice, Italy, c. 1515
    99.0 x 76.0 cm
    oil on canvas
    Musée du Louvre, Paintings Department
    © Musée du Louvre, dist. RMN / Martine Beck-Coppola

    The softness and new sensuality with which Titian depicted his human subjects represent a crucial turning-point in the history of European art. Like the Da Vinci portrait, this painting, loaned by Musée du Louvre, will be located in a section focusing on the new naturalism in Renaissance painting.

    Napoleon Crossing the Alps
    Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825)
    France, 1803
    Oil on canvas
    267.5 x 223 cm
    Musée national des châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon
    © RMN (Château de Versailles) F. Raux

    This portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte on horseback is an iconic image. This remarkable painting that illustrates the genius of the most important painter of the time captures also an important moment in history. Louvre Abu Dhabi's itinerary includes a section about the turning-point of the late 18th century when the American and French Revolutions and the rise of Napoleon sparked a feeling that individuals could change the course of history. Louvre Abu Dhabi has acquired a portrait of George Washington which fits also perfectly in this theme.

    The Fife player
    Edouard Manet (1832-1883)
    France, 1866
    161 x 97 cm
    Oil on canvas
    Musée d’Orsay
    © Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt

    Manet's work epitomizes the sensibility of modern artists in search of new sources of inspiration. Fascinated by Velasquez' Pablo de Valladolid, which he first saw in the Museo del Prado in 1865, Manet borrowed several features from it in The Fife-player, painted the following year - notably the disappearing background, which especially struck him, and which he compared to air surrounding the figure. Manet chose a subject from everyday life - an anonymous boy soldier whom he turned into a monumental figure like a Spanish grandee, set in an indeterminate space. He also used a simplified language, a limited palette, and colours applied in flat blocks. Alongside The Bohemian, with its quintessentially Spanish subject, The Fife-player illustrates in a different and complementary way the influence of paintings from the Spanish Golden Age on Manet's work.

    La gare Saint-Lazare
    Claude Monet (1840-1926)
    France, 1877
    75.5 x 104 cm
    Oil on canvas
    Musée d’Orsay
    © Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt

    With this totally new subject, utterly in tune with changes taking place in the society, Monet offers more evidence of the modern sensibility. The subject of the station - a place of constant movement, with trains arriving and departing, and a temple of technology, with its glass and steel architecture, is in itself a symbol of modernity and modern life. Monet depicts the steam from the trains and the passengers against the backdrop of Haussmann's Paris. In places, the subject is subsumed by colour, resulting in an almost abstract vision. The Saint-Lazare Station provides a superb foil to another scene from modern life, Gustave Caillebotte's The Game of Bezique, from Louvre Abu Dhabi's collection.

    Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)
    France, 1887
    Oil on canvas
    44 x 35.5 cm
    Musée d'Orsay
    © Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt

    This self-portrait was painted in autumn 1887, during Van Gogh's Paris period (February 1886 – February 1888). As this self-portrait shows very clearly, this period is very significant in the development of the artist's work since he discovered Impressionism at this time. His palette, which had previously been dominated by dark, blackish-brown ochre, became permanently lighter. In addition, the pure, expressive colour placed in separate, juxtaposed strokes expresses his fiery temperament. The fast painting method and spare use of materials makes this self-portrait exceptionally expressive.

    Les Deux péniches
    (Two barges)
    André Derain (1880, Chatou – 1954, Garches)
    Oil on canvas
    80 x 97,5 cm
    Bought in 1972
    Collection Centre Pompidou, Paris
    Musée national d’art moderne - Centre de création industrielle
    photography : (c) Philippe Migeat - Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI/Dist. RMN-GP
    © Adagp, Paris

    Les Deux péniches is an important painting of Derain, one of the Fauvism movement protagonists with Matisse. It is one of the masterpieces of the National museum of modern Art’s collection. It was part of the exhibition “Masterpieces” of the Centre Pompidou Metz. Painted in London, where Derain worked in the footsteps of Monet, the composition is audacious: seized from a plunging view, the motif is reduced to two barges, one of which is partially truncated by the edge of the canvas, and to the stretch of water on which they seem to be slipping. The "photographic" framing recalls the cropping of certain Japanese prints. Furthermore, the composition that suppresses the skyline increases the frontality of the painting. Regarding color, Derain’s Fauve repertoire is evident: the pure color, the high contrasts, the wide and animated strokes used for water. Although he turns later in time to sobriety and the measure, this painting definitely represents his "youthful turbulences", as mentioned by Apollinaire in 1916.