Thursday, May 5, 2016


6 APRIL - 1 AUGUST 2016

The Centre Pompidou is proposing a journey through the work of a singular figure in modernity and one of the 20th century’s most iconic artists: Paul Klee. This is the first major in France since the 1969 exhibition at the Musée National d’Art Moderne.

Featuring two hundred and thirty works loaned by the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern
and various major international and private collections, this retrospective casts a fresh look
on Klee’s work. It sheds light on the way he used irony through an approach originating in the early German Romanticism, consisting in a constant shift between a satire and the affirmation of an absolute, finite and infinite, real and ideal. In this respect, Klee’s use of irony is inspired by the philosopher Friedrich Schlegel: «Everything in it must be a joke, and everything must be serious: everything must be offered up with an open heart, and profoundly concealed.»
This new approach also explores Klee’s relationship with his peers and the artistic movements of his time.

The exhibition is divided into seven thematic sections highlighting each stage in Klee’s artistic development:

I. Satirical beginnings

After his studies in Munich, Klee spent the winter of 1901-1902 in Italy. Faced with the grandeur
of Antiquity and its Renaissance, the young artist became aware of his own place in history: that
of an imitator obliged to continue a now outmoded classical idealism. His solution was satire: a modern mode of expression that could assert both high ideals and a critical view of the state of the world.
« I serve beauty by depicting its enemies (caricature and satire) », he wrote in his diary.
Based on this dialectical inversion central to Romantic irony, Klee began producing essentially graphic works, in which he expressed his often scathing thoughts on relations between the sexes, his relationship to society and his position as an artist. It was also a time when he experimented with techniques, trying out reverse glass painting and exploring plastic forms. This period culminated in the illustrations 
for Candide ou l’Optimisme by Voltaire, a writer much venerated by Klee.

2. Klee and Cubism

Klee discovered Cubism in Munich in late 1911, and a year later during his stay in Paris. From then on, the formal inventions of Cubism nourished his pictorial explorations, often in a dialectical way. Whilst using a prismatic vocabulary, Klee’s childlike drawings are nevertheless an ironic representation of the Cubist decomposed figures that he found deprived of all vitality. In the series of watercolours painted during his formative stay in Tunis in 1914, he introduced effects of distance – for example by leaving
the vertical bands of white paper that corresponded to the marks left by the elastic bands he used when painting outdoors. This distancing technique was also evident in his highly singular approach, where

he cut up finished compositions into two or more parts, turning them into independent works
or combining them differently on new supports. Here Klee asserted a creative impulse whose roots lay paradoxically in the act of destruction.

3. Mechanical theatre

At the end of the First Wold War, Klee’s work began to feature the imagery of mechanised figures. Inspired by his experience in aviation maintenance, Klee transformed birds into planes, often in attack formation. He started using oil transfers: an indirect technique that depersonalised the lines of the drawing. The aesthetics of the machine were then much in vogue in Dadaist circles, from Francis Picabia to Raoul Hausmann. Klee’s contact with the Zurich Dadaists revived his interest in the representation
of machines and equipment, and the effects produced by their mechanisms. As a teacher at the Bauhaus, he began to create hybrid beings, half-human, half-object. Through mechanical simplification, he used the motifs of automatons and puppets to condemn the loss of vitality and the narrowing of inner life brought about by industrial rationalisation, asking ironically « When will machines start bearing children? »

4. Klee and Constructivisms

The new watchword proclaimed in 1923 by Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus («Art and technology: a new unity») marked a turning point for the school. Klee was highly responsive to it.
He then embarked upon a tightrope act, seeking a balance between his intuitive approach and the new contemporary dogmas. He took up certain aspects of modernist expression such as the grid, while sidestepping its rigidity. His paintings, structured by squares, in turn evoked musical rhythms, stained glass painting, tapestries, multi-coloured flowerbeds and aerial views of fields. The Bauhaus’s move
to the modern city of Dessau in 1925 further induced the school’s movement towards the use
of photographic techniques, ardently supported by its new teacher, László Moholy-Nagy. Klee reacted in his own way: rational aesthetics acted as a foil, enabling him to assert his antagonistic position more firmly. In his view, «laws should only provide a basis for self-fulfilment.»

5. Backward glances

In his last years at the Bauhaus, Klee began to multiply references to different epochs of the past. Inspired by his travels and the many books and articles he read on the subject, he introduced pictorial elements reminiscent of ancient mosaics, Egyptian civilisation and figures and signs carved on the walls of Palaeolithic caves. The prehistoric dimension in itself was a recurrent component in his imagination: fossils, caves, mountains in the process of forming, primitive plants and animals, sacred stones, undecipherable inscriptions on rocks and such like all allude to the past in varying degrees. Klee used imitation as a method of appropriation. The reproduction of the effects of time on both the object (wear and tear, mould, erosion) and its content imbued his works with a sense of parody. While Klee drew
on the repertory of signs produced by «primitive» or non-Western cultures, he was only imitating
the principles of their original structure.

6. Klee and Picasso

Picasso represented a particular challenge for Klee. His work dialogued with the Spanish artist’s with particular intensity at two periods in his life: at the beginning of his career in around 1912, and above all during the 1930s, after he saw the 1932 retrospective at the Kunsthaus in Zurich. Here Klee discovered Picasso’s « Surrealism », particularly his large paintings of female figures and his biomorphic metamorphoses: two new directions that powerfully influenced Klee after the Bauhaus period, and stimulated the work of his final years.
This confrontation was nourished by the publication of numerous articles on Picasso in reviews such as Les Cahiers d’Art, to which Klee subscribed. After his first visit to Picasso’s Paris studio in 1933,
the two artists met up at Klee’s house in Bern in 1937. That virtually silent moment revealed the tensions between these two giants of modernity. Their dialogue was imaginary, made up of appropriation
and opposition, of secret admiration and critical irony.

7. The crisis years

Hitler’s coming to power in 1933 marked the end of Klee’s career in Germany and forced him into exile in Bern. He responded with a series of drawings that transposed the country’s predominant angst into violent cross-hatching. Von der Liste gestrichen [Struck from the list], a self-portrait in the form
of a pseudo-Cubist African mask, treats Nazis politics with irony by parodying their own criteria

for exclusion. Klee liked to counter terror through a childlike, playful iconography, where signs are transformed into stickmen dancing not in joy but in fear. These figures may well allude to the general physical training encouraged by the Nazis. Their dislocated appearance reflected another source
of anxiety for the artist: the serious illness that was beginning to stiffen his bodily movements. In 1935, Klee developed scleroderma, a wasting disease that gradually mineralised his body. As a result,

he simplified his graphic language, which now expressed contemporary suffering – both humanity’s and his own – with elementary force.

Exhibition catalogue

by Angela Lampe
A publication with 312 pages and 300 illustrations, featuring new articles by internationally recognised Paul Klee specialists. Format: 23.5 x 30 cm. Hardback. Price: €44.90.

From his satirical beginnings to his reinterpretation of Cubism, productive exchanges with Dada
and inversion of the Bauhaus dogmas to his final years of crisis, throughout his career Paul Klee endeavoured to assert total freedom with regard to the modernisms of his time, readily taking casting an ironic eye on their principles and disrupting their systems. The retrospective staged by the Centre Pompidou Paul Klee takes a completely new look at his entire output through the prism of Romantic irony. This richly-illustrated catalogue contains contributions from leading specialists on Klee and sheds light on the subversive character of his work.

PAUL KLEE Paul Klee, Ohne Titel (Zwei Fische, zwei Angelhaken, zwei Würmer  Pen and watercolour on card
16,2 x 23,2 cm

PAUL KLEE Verkommenes Paar
Couple mauvais genre, 1905 Reverse glass painting
18 x 13 cm
 Zentrum Paul Klee, Berne 
 © Adagp, Paris 2016

PAUL KLEE Candide, chapitre 16:
Tandis que deux singes les suivaient en leur mordant les fesses, 1911 Pen on paper on card
12,7 x 23,6 cm
Zentrum Paul Klee, Berne
 © Adagp, Paris 2016

PAUL KLEE (Lustig?) [Lachende Gothik] [(Drôle?) [Gothique joyeux]], 1915
 Watercolour and pastel on paper, metallic paper borders on card
 © Adagp, Paris 2016
28,9 x 16,5 cm 
The Museum of Modern Art, New York © 2016. Digital Image, The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Scala, Florence
 © Adagp, Paris 2016

PAUL KLEE Vorführung des Wunders
 Présentation du miracle,1916 
Gouache, pen and ink on prepared fabric, mounted on card
29,2 × 23,6 cm
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
© 2016. Digital Image, The Museum
of Modern Art, New York/Scala, Florence
 © Adagp, Paris 2016

 Angelus novus, 1920 
Oil and watercolour on paper on card 31,8 x 24,2 cm
 The Israel Museum, Jérusalem 
 © Adagp, Paris 2016

PAUL KLEE Landschaft bei E. (in Bayern) Paysage près de E. (en Bavière), 1921 Oil and pen on paper on card
 49,8 x 35,2 cm
 © Adagp, Paris 2016

PAUL KLEE Bild aus dem Boudoir
 Image tirée du boudoir, 1922 Copy in oil and watercolour on paper on card
 33,2 x 49 cm
 Zentrum Paul Klee, Berne © Adagp, Paris 2016

PAUL KLEE (Jugendlicher) Schauspieler=Maske [Masque de (jeune)=comédien], 1924 Oil on canvas on card nailed to wood 36,7 x 33,8 cm © Adagp, Paris 2016

PAUL KLEE von der Liste gestrichen Rayé de la liste, 1933 Oil on paper on card 31.5 x 24 cm
Zentrum Paul Klee, Berne Donation Livia Klee  © Adagp, Paris 2016

PAUL KLEE Der Schöpfer
 Le Créateur, 1934 
Oil on canvas
42 x 53.5 cm
 Zentrum Paul Klee, Berne © Adagp, Paris 2016

PAUL KLEE Dame Daemon 
Dame Démon, 1935
 Oil and watercolour on prepared hessian canvas on card
150 x 100 cm
Zentrum Paul Klee, Berne © Adagp, Paris 2016

PAUL KLEE Tänze vor Angst
 Danses sous l’empire de la peur, 1938 Watercolour on paper on card 
48 x 31 cm
 Zentrum Paul Klee, Berne © Adagp, Paris 2016

 Insula dulcamara, 1938
 Oil and colour glue paint on paper on hessian canvas
 88 x 176 cm
 Zentrum Paul Klee, Berne© Adagp, Paris 2016

PAUL KLEE Liebeslied bei Neumond 
Chant d’amour à la nouvelle lune,1939 Watercolour on hessian canvas
100 x 70 cm
Zentrum Paul Klee, Berne © Adagp, Paris 2016

  La Belle jardinière, 1939
 Oil and tempera on hessian canvas 95 x 71 cm
Zentrum Paul Klee, Berne © Adagp, Paris 2016

 Exubérance, 1939
 Oil and colour glue paint on paper on hessian canvas
101 x 130 cm 
Zentrum Paul Klee, Berne  © Adagp, Paris 2016

PAUL KLEE Angstausbruch III
 Explosion de peur III, 1939
 Watercolour on prepared paper on card 63.5 x 48.1 cm Zentrum Paul Klee, Berne  © Adagp, Paris 2016

Defining British Art (Christie's 30 June): Lucian Freud; Frederic, Lord Leighton; & Sir Joshua Reynolds

An intimate family portrait by Lucian Freud painted in 1992; a pivotal example from 1864 of British Aestheticism at auction for the first time in 100 years by Frederic, Lord Leighton; and from 1778, an exquisite portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds on the market for the first time, are among the great works of British art to be offered in a sale alongside an exhibition which will launch Christie's 250th anniversary in London this June.

Building on the success of Christie's pioneering series of curated Evening Sales to date, including Looking Forward to the Past and The Artist's Muse in 2015, Christie's will celebrate the artistic legacy of four centuries of British artists, with Defining British Art: Evening Sale (30 June) and Defining British Art: Loan Exhibition (17 June to 15 July). 
Ever since James Christie first opened his doors for business in 1766, in St James’s London, where the headquarters remain today, Christie’s has championed British art and artists, with both Reynolds and Gainsborough among the regular visitors to Christie’s salerooms. The greatest masterpieces are those that define the artist; paintings and sculpture that reflect the quintessential nature of that artist’s lasting legacy. Christie’s Loan Exhibition and Evening Sale will present works which exemplify this.

Lucian Freud Ib and Her Husband, 1992, is a scene of family affection: (Estimate on Request: in the region of £18 million). The tender brushstrokes that describe the entwined figures of Freud’s daughter Ib (Isobel Boyt) embraced by her partner Pat Costelloe, give a glimpse into the world of the artist’s family at a moment of extreme intimacy: Ib’s pregnancy. Freud’s paintings of his daughters trace an ever-growing tenderness between father and child that was only forged later in life, since Freud had been absent for much of Ib’s childhood. This painting has been exhibited in Freud’s major retrospective, ‘Lucian Freud: Recent Work’ (1993-4) which took place in London, The Whitechapel Art Gallery; New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art and Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.

At auction for the first time in 100 years, Golden Hours, 1864, by Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830–1896) is a celebration of youth, beauty, and love, three universal elements which transcend time and geographies (estimate: £3-5 million). Transporting the viewer to 16th century Venice and the world of Giorgione, this work is recognised as a pivotal masterpiece of British Aestheticism, allowing the viewer to revel in the seductive atmosphere, and to dream. With most major works by Leighton in museum collections, this is one of the last remaining examples in private hands. Last seen in public 20 years ago, it was exhibited in the Leighton retrospective at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1996.

Never previously offered for sale, Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A. Portrait of Lucy Long, Mrs George Hardinge - a society beauty - is one of the finest works by the artist to come to the market in a generation (estimate: £2-3 million). Preserved in remarkable condition, this is a prime example of the work of the first President of the Royal Academy, who was a close friend and advisor to James Christie. Offered from the collections at Harewood House, Yorkshire, it was originally painted for Georgina, Lady Peachey in 1778. A prime date for the artist, it has passed by direct descent through the Marquess’ of Clanricarde to the present day. Last included in a public exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1934, this painting has not been seen outside of Harewood for over 80 years.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Christie’s New York Evening Sale of Post-War & Contemporary Ar On May 10: Clyfford Still

On May 10, Christie’s will feature

Clyfford Still’s PH-234, 1948 (estimate: $25-35m)

among the top lots of its New York Evening Sale of Post-War & Contemporary Art.

The majority of Still’s work resides in the collections of museums and institutions, including the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver, making the appearance of PH-234 a rare opportunity to acquire an extraordinary and iconic example of Still's work at the heights of his artistic power. In its’ nearly 60 years PH-234 has only had two previous owners and was included in an major Still retrospective curated by James Demetrion at The Hirshhorn Museum in 2001, Clyfford Still: Paintings, 1944-1960.

 Laura Paulson, Chairman, Post-War and Contemporary Art, America’s, remarked: Clyfford Still’s paintings are among the most powerful and important produced in latter part of the twentieth century, and we are honored to present PH-234 in one of the rare instances that an example of this magnitude comes onto the market from the artist. PH-234 is a consummate masterpiece by Still, which conveys the essence of his awe-inspiring oeuvre. Demonstrating Still’s distinctive style and technique, PH-234 quickly reveals the rich and almost limitless possibilities of color, surface and space. Originally acquired in 1957 by visionary English collector, Ted Power, who was one of the first English collectors to acquire major examples of the New York School and Pop Art, PH-234 is a commanding representation of the visceral potency of Abstract Expressionism at its zenith.”

Still’s reputation as one of the giants of Abstract Expressionism is built upon this mastery of the painterly process. Unique among his contemporaries, Still built up his richly textured surface by painting layer upon layer of richly pigmented oil paint carefully sculpting and applying each brush stroke. Still would often scrape away the surface only to rebuild it again, resulting in a surface both densely layered with color or often transcendent, conveying deep, mystical space. The spatial relationships created from this process and Still's vision, especially as seen in PH-234, result in a composition that is dynamic, almost topographical, and what ultimately defined Still's mastery of the canvas and set him apart from his colleagues such as Pollock, Newman and Rothko.

This painting was produced during the period immediately after Still's first great solo exhibition at Peggy Guggenheim's Art of this Century Gallery in February 1946. In the introduction to the exhibition Still's then friend, Mark Rothko, related Still's new art to the epic and transcendent dimension of "Myth" and explained how Still, "working out West, and alone," had, with "unprecedented forms and completely personal methods," arrived at a completely new way of painting.  The simple, seemingly organic forms of Still's painting and its bold expansive fields of space and color made, "the rest of us look academic" Jackson Pollock observed at the time.
PH-234 was shown in Still’s first solo exhibition at the Betty Parsons Gallery in 1951, and acquired in 1957 by E.J. "Ted" Power, one of the great collectors of international postwar art. Beginning in the mid-1950s, Power sought out the newest and most radical art he could find. He taught himself to discern what moved him and refined his eye to search for quality works by artists such as Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and Barnett Newman. He acquired PH-234 in January 1957 after becoming enthralled with the work of the Abstract Expressionists at the important exhibition of new American art organized by the Tate Gallery in London.

Still’s work, and examples such as PH-234, in particular represent the pinnacle of Abstract Expressionism—a pure form of painting that relies solely on its creator to express the power and intense visceral nature of its form. His best works have an inherent power that is perhaps best summed up by Still himself, who in a rare moment of retrospection characterized the fundamental raison d’etre of his work when he concluded, "You can turn the lights out. The paintings will carry their own fire" (C. Still, quoted in M. Auping, Clyfford Still, exh. cat. Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 2002, p. 303). This painting carries this fire to its very core.  

Top three lots for Clyfford Still at auction

1. 1949-A-No. 1, oil on canvas, 1949 | Sale of Sotheby's New York: Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Estimate: $25,000,000 - 35,000,000 | Price Realized: $61,682,500

2. 1947-Y-No. 2, oil on canvas, 1947 | Sale of Sotheby's New York: Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Estimate: 15,000,000 - 20,000,000 | Price Realized: $31,442,500

3. 1947-R-no. 1, oil on canvas, 1947 | Sale of Christie's New York: Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Estimate: $5,000,000 - 7,000,000 | Price Realized $21,296,000


The Baltimore Museum of Art: October 23, 2016-January 29, 2017

 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: March 11-May 29, 2017

Featuring two of the Bay Area’s artistic heroes, Matisse/Diebenkorn will be the first major exhibition to explore the profound inspiration Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993) discovered in the work of French modernist Henri Matisse (1869-1954). On view at SFMOMA from March 11 through May 29, 2017 after its initial presentation at the Baltimore Museum of Art, the expanded San Francisco exhibition will feature approximately 100 objects—40 paintings and drawings by Matisse and 60 paintings and drawings by Diebenkorn—from museums and private collections throughout the U.S. and Europe.

Following the trajectory of Diebenkorn’s career, the exhibition will illuminate how this influence evolved over time through different pairings and groupings of both artists’ work. As a Stanford University art student in 1943, Diebenkorn first saw the work of Matisse at the Palo Alto home of Sarah Stein, one of the French painter’s earliest champions. 

While stationed at Quantico, Virginia, during World War II, Diebenkorn pursued a serious study of Matisse’s paintings in East Coast museums. These experiences introduced subjects, compositional strategies, a palette, and techniques that would later tremendously impact Diebenkorn’s work. Outstanding selections from his Urbana and Berkeley periods (1953-55), representational period (1955-67) and Ocean Park period (1968-80) will be shown side by side with seminal works by Matisse. 

The exhibition will reveal the lasting power of Diebenkorn’s firsthand experiences of the French artist’s work, from the Matisse retrospectives he saw in Los Angeles in 1952 and 1966 to his visits to see the great Matisse collections at the State Hermitage Museum and the Pushkin Museum in the Soviet Union in 1964.

With a longstanding history in the Bay Area, Matisse’s expressive paintings were first introduced to San Francisco shortly after the 1906 earthquake, shocking the arts community with their startling colors and brushwork. The artist’s very first west coast survey was held at SFMOMA in 1936, a year after the museum was founded. 

His work—specifically  

Femme au chapeau (Woman with a Hat), 1905

—has become a historical anchor to SFMOMA’s painting and sculpture department. 

Diebenkorn had deep personal and professional connections with the area, growing up in San Francisco’s Ingleside Terraces neighborhood; attending Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley; and excelling as a student and instructor at the San Francisco Art Institute (then the California School of Fine Arts), and as an instructor at the California College of the Arts. Though they never met, Matisse and Diebenkorn will be connected through this stunning exhibition as never before, allowing visitors to discover new views of the artists long-beloved in the Bay Area.

Matisse’s influence on Diebenkorn is most visible in the younger artist’s figurative works from the 1950s and 1960s, but also evident in the structure, composition,and light of his earlier andlater abstractions. 

The exhibition is organized chronologically through Diebenkorn’s career beginning with some of the first Matisse works that Diebenkorn viewed in the Palo Alto home of Sarah Stein, one of Matisse’s first patrons, and at the BMA, The Phillips Collection in Washington D.C.and The Museum of Modern Art in New Yorkin the 1940s. These works introduced the motifs, palette and techniquesthat later influenced the American painter. 

A rich selection of exceptional paintings and drawings from Diebenkorn’s representational period (1955-1967) illustrate the artist’s shift from abstraction towards identifiable subject matter and will be paired with some of the French master’s own compositions that were of particular relevance. Diebenkorn continued to seek out Matisse’s example, most notably during a trip to the Soviet Union in 1964, where he saw the extensive collections of works by Matisse in the StateHermitage Museum and the Pushkin Museum. 

This was followed by a visit two years later to a large Matisse retrospective in Los Angeles, where he saw over 300 works by the French master. Two highly significant abstract Matisse paintings that Diebenkorn saw in the 1966 retrospective will be featured in the exhibition. 

Diebenkorn returned to abstraction soon after moving to Ocean Park in Santa Monica, California in 1967. He is best known for his color and light-filled abstract compositions produced there. The exhibition will conclude with a selection of his Ocean Parkpaintings(1968-1980) juxtaposed with a selection of Matisse’s most influential works.


A fully illustrated catalogue will be produced with essays by Matisse/Diebenkorn co-curators Katy Rothkopf, BMA Senior Curator of European Painting & Sculpture,and Janet Bishop, SFMOMA Weisel Family Curator of Painting and Sculpture. Both examine Diebenkorn’s interactions with Matisse’swork throughout his long career. It will also include an introduction by John Elderfield, Allen R. Adler Distinguished Curator and Lecturer at the Princeton University Art Museum and Chief Curator Emeritus of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, who has curated groundbreaking exhibitions on both artists. Jodi Roberts, Associate Curator of Special Projects at the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University will contribute an essay regarding the relationship between Matisse’s drawings and Diebenkorn’s own graphic work.The exhibition catalogue will be co-published with DelMonico Books/Prestel.

Richard Diebenkorn Untitled (Ocean Park), 1971 Charcoal on paper 26 1/4 x 18 5/8 inches Henri Matisse View of Notre Dame, 1914, Oil on Canvas 58 x 37 inches

Henri Matisse The Piano Lesson 1916. Oil on canvas, 8′ 1/2″ x 6′ 11 3/4″ & Richard Diebenkorn Ocean Park #16, 1968 Oil on canvas 92 1/2 x 76 in.

Full Images Credits:

Henri Matisse. View of Notre Dame. 1914. The Museum of Modern Art, New York: Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest, and the Henry Ittleson, A. Conger Goodyear, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Sinclair Funds, and the Anna Erickson Levene Bequest given in memory of her husband, Dr. Phoebus Aaron Theodor Levene, 116.1975.©2015 Succession H. Matisse, Paris/Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York

Richard Diebenkorn. Ocean Park #79.1975. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Purchased with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and with funds contributed by private donors, 1977, 1977-28-1. ©Richard Diebenkorn Foundation

Outstanding review

Sotheby’s American Art 18 May 2016: Sargent, Rockwell, O'Keeffe, Andrew Wyeth

From John Singer Sargent’s striking Poppies (estimate $4–6 million), to Norman Rockwell’s remarkable 1949 Post cover Road Block (estimate $4–6 million), this sale presents a range of styles and genres from the 19th and 20th centuries. 

Highlights from the sale will be on view at Sotheby’s New York beginning 29 April, alongside Impressionist & Modern and Contemporary Art, with the full sale on exhibition beginning 14 May.

John Singer Sargent painted Poppies in 1886,(estimate $4–6 million) while at work on  

Carnation Lily, Lily, Rose, 

one of his most important works now in the collection of the Tate Britain. In the wake of the scandal caused by his daring  

Portrait of Madame X, 

Sargent departed for England from Paris. He sustained a head injury while swimming on a boat trip along the Thames, and a friend brought him to Broadway, a nearby village in the English Cotswolds, to recuperate. He began working on Carnation Lily, Lily, Rose almost immediately, painting with a newfound freedom to portray anything that inspired him. The present work is likely the only surviving depiction of the splendid poppies he observed in a garden there, and was most recently included in the museum exhibition Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse, co-organized by the Royal Academy of Arts and the Cleveland Museum of Art.

The May auction also will offer Sargent’s Staircase in Capri ( estimate $1.8–2.5 million), inspired by the artist’s travels to the Mediterranean island in the summer of 1878. The painting was first owned by Auguste Hirsch, a French artist with whom Sargent shared a studio in Paris in the late 1870s. It was later acquired by Pamela Harriman, who served as the United States Ambassador to France in the mid-1990s. 

Among the most sophisticated and complex compositions Rockwell created for the cover of The Saturday Evening Post, Road Block (estimate $4–6 million) demonstrates the artist’s distinctive sense of humor and unparalleled gift for storytelling–two of the qualities that have incited comparisons between Rockwell’s work and filmmaking. Regarding his 1949 painting Road Block, NormanRockwell bemoaned: “Why, oh, why do I paint such involved and complicated pictures?” 

The May sale also will include Rockwell’s Hobo and Dog (estimate $1.5–2.5 million), sold by The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Appearing on the cover of The Post on October 18, 1924, it features one of Rockwell’s favorite models of the period: James K. Van Brunt.

Originally acquired directly from the artist by Philadelphia publisher Leonard E.B. Andrews in 1986, The Prussian © 2016 Andrew Wyeth / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York (estimate $2.5–3.5 million) is one of the best works in a series of images by Andrew Wyeth that depict the now famous Helga Testorf, a neighbor who became his primary muse for over 15 years. Wyeth executed this highly finished work in drybrush,a technique that allowed the artist to capture Helga’s physical likeness with a keen attention to detail, and to achieve a rich and sculptural surface. 

Embodying Thomas Wilmer Dewing’s inimitable and highly sophisticated aesthetic, The White Birch (estimate $2–3 million) is a sumptuous landscape that he painted while staying in the artists’ colony of Cornish, New Hampshire. The work displays the wide range of diverse aesthetic sources that Dewing drew from during this period, as well as his ability to synthesize them into an aesthetic all his own.This masterpiece, which comes to auction in an original frame designed by Stanford White, also boasts an impressive exhibition history, having been shown extensively across the United States, Russia and Japan. 

Additional highlights are two paintings by the modern master Milton Avery being offered by the Art Institute of Chicago. 

Pink Cock (estimate $500,000–700,000), 2016 © Milton Avery / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York was completed in 1943, as the artist developed what is now considered his mature aesthetic. 

Lanky Nude, estimate $150,000–250,000), painted in 1950, represents Avery’s thoroughly modern interpretation of the traditional theme of the reclining nude. Both paintings showcase the unique manner in which Avery transforms a representational subject into an evocative, semi-abstracted arrangement of shape and color. 

Several additional modernist examples include Georgia O'Keeffe’s powerful 1955 painting, Black Patio Door–Small, the only work from this important series still in private hands(estimate $500,000–700,000).  © 2016 The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum / Artists Rights Society  

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


Christie’s announces the spring sale of American Art taking place on Thursday, May 19 in Rockefeller Plaza. This comprehensive auction features 98 lots with works ranging from major American modernists, Georgia O’Keeffe, Arthur Dove, and Max Weber, to 19th-century masters, Frederic Edwin Church, John Singer Sargent, and James McNeill Whistler. Several private collections highlight the auction including The Collection of Kippy Stroud, The Gail and John Liebes Collection, Property of H.F. ‘Gerry’ Lenfest, and The Collection of Lois and Harry Horvitz.

Leading the sale, is a large-scale painting  by Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986), Lake George Reflection, painted circa 1921-22, from the Collection of J.E. Safra (estimate: $8,000,000-12,000,000). Inspired by O’Keeffe’s frequent visits to the family home of Alfred Stieglitz, this work continues in the tradition of earlier Hudson River School painters inspired by the sublime topography of the region, but interpreted in O’Keeffe’s avant-garde style of abstraction. The painting can be viewed either vertically or horizontally and this ambiguity of orientation creates a work that is at once highly representational and wholly abstract. First exhibited in 1923 by the artist at the Anderson Galleries, the work was hung vertically, encouraging anthropomorphic comparisons most closely relating to her magnified flower imagery, which she was simultaneously exploring.

Four exceptional works by Georgia O’Keeffe highlight The Collection of Kippy Stroud, who was the founder of the Fabric Workshop Museum. Led by Red Hills with Pedernal, White Clouds, painted in 1936 (estimate: $3,000,000-5,000,000), this work embodies O’Keeffe’s lifelong fascination with shapes and colors found in nature as well as her close connection to the American Southwest.

Also included in the collection is an early abstract watercolor by O’Keeffe, Blue I, executed in 1916, (estimate: $2,500,000-3,500,000), which represents her investigation of pure abstraction and acts as one of the earliest and most original abstract images in the history of American art. Blue I is the current auction record for a watercolor by O’Keeffe, having previously sold for $3,008,000 at Christie’s New York.

From The Collection of H.F. ‘Gerry’ Lenfest is Max Weber’s (1881-1961), New York, painted in 1913 (estimate: $1,500,000-2,500,000), which is among the earliest works to depict America’s energized and technologically advanced era at the turn of the century. The large-scale oil on canvas was executed following the artist’s return to New York City after an extended stay in Paris. With a fusion of Cubist and Futurist elements, New York marks the moment of Weber’s breakthrough into his singular modernist style. This work debuted the same year it was painted, featuring prominently in Roger Fry’s first Grafton Group Exhibition in London, where Weber was the best represented artist in this significant international exhibition.

Highlighting the 19th-century works is an exceptional landscape by Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900), A New England Lake, (estimate: $3,500,000-5,500,000), painted in 1854. Executed during a momentous turning point in his career, this work represents the culmination of Church’s early years perfecting his notion of New England topography, but also a pivotal change in style integrating the more dramatic light and aura which would create his blockbuster works of the following years.

Other 19th-century highlights come from the Gail and John Liebes Collection, including a stunning portrait by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), François Flameng and Paul Helleu, painted circa 1880 (estimate: $1,200,000-1,800,000)

and a large-scale floral still-life by John La Farge (1835-1910), Hollyhocks, painted in 1863 (estimate: $600,000-800,000).

The Western selection is led by Alfred Jacob Miller’s (1810-1874), Pawnee Running a Buffalo, painted in 1854, (estimate: $1,000,000-1,500,000), commissioned for the same family whose collection it has remained in until now.

Other Western highlights come from the Collection of Lois and Harry Horvitz, including Frank Tenney Johnson’s (1874-1939), Through the Starlit Hours, painted in 1935 (estimate: $150,000-250,000).

Monday, May 2, 2016

Grandma Moses: American Modern

Shelburne Museum - Vermont June 18—October 30, 2016
Bennington Museum - Vermont July 1 through November 5, 2017.
Grandma Moses: American Modern takes a new look at this iconic artist through a modernist lens. Co-organized with Bennington Museum in Vermont, the exhibition showcases more than 60 paintings, works on paper, and related materials by Moses alongside work by other 19th- and 20th-century folk and modern artists. Grandma Moses: American Modern is on view at Shelburne Museum (Shelburne, Vermont) June 18 through October 20, 2016.
“Grandma Moses is best known for paintings of simple farm life and the rural countryside that established her reputation as a wildly popular latter-day folk artist,” said Shelburne Museum Director Thomas Denenberg. “This exhibition reexamines her work and explores the way she emerged onto the national stage both as a product of and foil to mid-century American modernism.”
Grandma Moses: American Modern explores the work of the beloved self-taught American artist Anna Mary Robertson “Grandma” Moses (1860-1961), whose nostalgic and romanticized paintings were ubiquitous in post-World War II America. Her work exemplifies an ideal of small-town America that took root in the popular imagination in the 1930s and became a national institution by the 1950s. Although Moses’s paintings seem like pure nostalgia, they are in fact visually sophisticated paintings that melded her memories of growing up in a preindustrial America with her more recent experiences in an increasingly modernized, homogenous nation. Grandma Moses: American Modern counters Moses’s marginalization as strictly a “folk” artist and a phenomenon within popular culture to contextualize her work within a larger narrative of 20th-century American art. Her paintings will be paired alongside fellow folk artists like Edward Hicks and Joseph Pickett as well as her modernist contemporaries, including Morris Hirshield and Helen Frankenthaler. The exhibition features paintings from the permanent collections of Shelburne and Bennington museums along with major loans from the Galerie St. Etienne in New York.
Shelburne and Bennington museums are uniquely appropriate institutions for organizing Grandma Moses: American Modern. Both institutions have had important relationships with Grandma Moses, both during her lifetime and as stewards of her legacy. Electra Haveremeyer Webb, the founder of Shelburne Museum, and Moses became fast friends toward the end of their lives. Moses frequently visited the museum and one of Mrs. Webb’s final pursuits was organizing an exhibition of Moses’s paintings in 1960. Bennington Museum’s close identification with Grandma Moses dates to 1963 when Otto Kallir and Galerie St. Etienne created the first of several temporary exhibitions at the museum. These led to the “Grandma Moses Gallery,” where at times up to 80 paintings were on loan all through the 1970s. The museum’s long-standing interest in Moses has led to gifts and purchases. Today the museum holds the largest public collection of her work: more than 40 paintings, needleworks, the 18th-century tilt-top table she decorated with landscapes and then used as a painting table, her iconic apron, photographs, documents, and even the schoolhouse she studied in as a little girl.
Grandma Moses began painting in earnest at the age of 78, a phenomenal example of an individual successfully beginning a career in the arts late in life. A down-to-earth farm wife from rural upstate New York, Moses was understood in her lifetime as a memory painter, an artist from an earlier era and a simpler time who provided an ideology of hearth and home for the new patterns of life in suburban America. Images of her paintings have appeared on greeting cards, housewares, magazine advertisements, television, and in the movies. She won numerous awards in her lifetime and was awarded two honorary doctoral degrees; her paintings are included in museum collections around the country.

Grandma Moses: American Modern will be accompanied by a beautifully illustrated catalogue published by Skira Rizzoli Publishing and with essays by Thomas Denenberg, Director of Shelburne Museum; Jamie Franklin, Curator of Collections at Bennington Museum; Diana Korzenik, professor emerita at the Massachusetts College of Art; and Alexander Nemerov, professor of art history at Stanford University.

Anna Mary Robertson (“Grandma”) Moses (1860- 1961), Bennington, 1945. Oil on pressed wood, 17 3/4 x 26 in. Copyright © 2016 Grandma Moses Properties Co, New York. Bennington Museum. 1986.310.

Anna Mary Robertson (“Grandma”) Moses (1860-1961), The Old Checkered House, 1853, 1944. Oil on pressed wood, 20 3/4 x 28 in. Copyright © 2016 Grandma Moses Properties Co, New York. Bennington Museum, Museum Purchase. 2000.2.

Anna Mary Robertson (“Grandma”) Moses (1860-1961), A Tramp on Christmas Day, 1946. Oil on academy board, 15 3/8 x 19 3/8 in. Copyright ©2016 Grandma Moses Properties Co, New York. Collection of Shelburne Museum, Museum purchase. 1961-210.2. Photography by Andy Duback.

Grandma Moses at Auction