By Carter B. Horsley
of 72 late 19th and early 20th Century paintings and sculptures
from the collection of Nathan and Marion Smooke, shown above in
a catalogue photograph, will be the most closely watched auction
of the 2001 fall season, and not just because it happens to be
the first major night sale of the fall auction season.
of artworks is extraordinarily high in quality and is one of the
finest "single-owner" auctions in decades. The collection
was also sought by Sotheby's and Christie's, but Phillips de Pury
& Luxembourg won the rights to auction it and according to
a November 1, 2001 article in The New York Times by Carol
Vogel "people close to the negotiations said the auction
house had given the Smooke heirs a $185 million guarantee, far
more than the $80 million to $100 million estimate experts at
Phillips have now put on the collection.
realized a total of $86,193,700 including buyers' premiums and
had a low pre-sale estimate of $80,278,000 and a high estimate
of $115,340,000. At a news conference after the sale, Mr. de Pury
described published reports of the amount of the guarantee as
inaccurate and said that the auction has "absolutely thrilled"
with the "fantastic" results. He declined to comment
on whether the auction house had made a "profit" on
the sale but noted that the sale had tripled the results of last
season that had tripled the results of the prior season and he
maintained that the auction house was "lean" and noted
that only 6 of 45 lots in the forthcoming contemporary art auction
had "financial" arrangements.
than 93 percent of the 72 offered lots in this auction sold, thirty
above their high estimates, an extremely good result. "Clearly,
we were concerned....there was a question mark for all of us how
the market would react," Mr. de Pury remarked, adding that
the auction set five world auction records for artists and that
the Hoener Collection auction held earlier in the day at Phillips
had set seven artists' records.
does Phillips, which has been extremely aggressive recently in
the auction business, have a lot at stake, but the art market
in general for the nation's economy had been deteriorating prior
to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade
Center and the Pentagon that have further exacerbated the economy
and created tremendous uncertainty in many markets.
it does not have many "knock-outs" for ambitious collectors
seeking popular, crowd-pleasing names regardless of the quality,
this collection is mostly "world-class museum" stuff,
which is quite remarkable given the fact that it was collected
in a relatively short period and not too long ago.
Of the 72
works being offered, more than 25 are exquisite and the envy of
most sophisticated connoisseurs, and many of the others are quite
excellent. Given the high quality and rarity of many of the works
offered, the auction is likely to fare better than those that
follow and should be quite successful despite the uncertainties
of the market, which may well seriously impact other sales, especially
as "single-collector" auctions have generally fared
better than general auctions in recent years.
systematic nor programmatic in character," observed Charles
Millard, the retired director of the Ackland Art Museum at the
University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and former chief curator
of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.,
in his introductory catalogue essay on the collection, "the
Smooke Collection abounds in challenging and interesting works
that only someone with a feeling for intriguing individual objects,
as opposed to movements or representative ranges of historical
material, could have put together. Not least surprising is that
the great majority of the works in it were assembled in roughly
a decade, between the mid-1970's and the mid-1980s."
One of the
collection's most vibrant works is Lot 5, "Portrait de Femme,
Dans Le Rat Mort," by Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958). This
24 1/2-by17 7/8-inch oil on board was painted circa 1905-6 and
is sensational. Vlaminck tended to create works predominated by
one bold color, usually green, but occasionally, as here, bright
red. This portrait of a lovely woman with a red coat, white scarf
and blue hat is very close to the best work of Vincent Van Gogh.
Vlaminck's early work was very good and he was important Fauvist
before he fell into a rut of dark green landscapes of little distinction.
This painting has a slightly ambitious estimate of $2,000,000
to $3,000,000 given the artist's level of fame, but it is a great
picture. It sold for $3,412,500 including the buyer's premium
as do all results mentioned in this article.
the finest work is Lot 26, "Das Rathaus von Swinemünde,"
a 28 3/4-by-23 1/4-inch oil on canvas by Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956).
One of his early masterpieces, it is notable for its interesting
distortions and bold palette. Feininger's work has long been overlooked
and in this work he demonstrates the same dreamlike quality of
Marc Chagall, both of whom predate the wild imaginations of the
Surrealists. Feininger is best known for his delicate abstractions
of marine scenes and urban landscapes, but his early works are
extremely vibrant with wonderful exaggerations.
notes that the Feininger painting, shown above, which was executed
in 1912, is "an astringent, unexpected and entirely impressive
work from relatively early in the artist's career, rather than
the more superficially attractive, somewhat etiolated later painting
or watercolor many would have chosen."
an estimate of $1,800,000 to $2,500,000 and sold for $3,302,500.
and another held earlier the same day at Phillips abound in excellent
examples of German Expressionist art. The earlier auction (see
City Review article) is also a "single-owner" sale
and has 49 works from the collection of Diethelm Hoerner, a German
investment banker who died this year. Mr. Smooke was the president
of Wellman Properties, an industrial real estate company, and
a founding board member of the Los Angeles County Museum, which
showed his collection in 1987. Mr. Smooke died in 1991.
Smooke and Hoerner collections are likely to provide rich fodder
for the Neue Gallerie of German Expressionist Art, the new museum
founded by Serge Sabarsky and Ronald Lauder that will open later
this month at 1048 Fifth Avenue on the southeast corner at 86th
Street. Indeed, that museum bought Max Beckmann's "Self Portrait
with Horn" last May 19 for $22,555,750, a world record price
for the artist and for German Expressionist art.
to Mr. de Pury, the Neue Gallerie acquired two works from the
Hoener sale and Daniella Luxembourg of Phillips said that it bought
one lot at the Smooke auction, Lot 38, an exquisite gold-plated
silver sculpture by Oskar Schlemmer (1888-1943), that had an estimateof
$50,000 to $70,000 and sold for $96,000. The lot, entitled "Groteske,"
is an exquisite, 21 ¼-inch high sculpture that was executed
in wood in 1923 and then cast in bronze in 1964. It was was formerly
in the collections of Serge Sabarsky Gallery and Saul P. Steinberg.
Collection has many fine German Expressionist works and a superb
Beckman, shown below.
one could argue that Lot 27, "Austernesserinnen," a
37 1/2-by-21 7/8-inch oil on canvas, painted in 1943 is a more
enjoyable Beckmann than the one sold last spring at Sotheby's
City Review article), and it has a quite modest estimate of $2,500,000
to $3,500,000. It sold for $3,522,500.
provides the following commentary on this lot:
presents an ambiguous scene of bourgeois leisure that was typical
of Beckmann's work during World War II.Ostensibly an image of
pleasure, this potentially buoyant subject is undermined by the
shadowy profile that lurks in the rear doorway. As a possible
self-portrait, this marginalized figure may present Beckmann's
war-time exile from a life of leisure. Regardless of the figure's
precise identity, this dark presence also lends an air of menace
to the entire painting, and insinuates the persistent threat of
violence under which Beckmann was currently living.The present
work is also distinguished by a palpable sexual tension. The artist
has painted a prominent still-life of oyster and a bottle of cognac
into the immediate foreground. The erotic import of this symbol
is only heightened by the gesture of the woman on the right. She
raises an oyster to her open, painted lips while gazing at the
viewer from beneath a gauzy veil. Exuding the mysterious sensuality
of a femme fatale, the is contrasted against the female
figures in the background, who appear alternately resistant and
responsive to her charms."
Kirchner (1880-1938) is represented by two splendid paintings,
Lots 31 and 33, "Fehmarntee" and "Negertanzerin",
shown above, is a 47 1/4-by-35 1/2-inch oil on canvas, that was
painted between 1914 and 1920. It has a modest estimate of $2,000,000
to $3,000,000. It sold for $2,532,500.
entry for this lot notes that it shows the artist to the right
side of the composition "along with his common-law wife Erna
Schilling." It also observes that it has virtually no parallel
or vertical lines and quotes Donald Gordon that in this and another
Kirchner painting of the same period "shapes, colors and
space are handled with extremes of distortion never previously
encountered in this combination in Western painting," adding
that "Simultaneously, the happy balance between angular diagonal
and rhythmically curvilinear arcs creates a charged equilibrium,
of admittedly great centrifugal energy, but of harmonious stasis
is a wonderful composition that was formerly in the collections
of Larry Aldrich and Henry Ford II. It is an oil on canvas, 67
by 37 inches, which was painted circa 1909-1911 and completed
by 1920. It has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,500,000. It
failed to sell, perhaps because it was a fairly dark picture with
quite a rough surface. It shows an "exotic dancer"
and is painted in a fresco-like style.
provides the following commentary:
his diary Kirchner records that his interest in the art of the
Palau Islands and the Oceanic art he studied in the Dresden Ethnographic
Museum were important to him, but were not entirely satisfactory.
His discovery of Indian fresco art from the Ajanta region marked
his moment of epiphany."
their often somber palettes and tortured poses, Kirchner's works
have wonderful, frenetic dynamics and frenzied compositions. They
appear rarely on the market.
(1867-1956) is perhaps the most famous German Expressionist artist
and Lots 32 and 34 are fabulous examples of his very bold work.
The former, shown above, "Masken II," is a 29-by-35-inch
oil on canvas executed in 1920. It has a very conservative estimate
of $600,000 to $800,000. It sold for $530,500.
addition to generating lively formal rhythms, Nolde composed his
mask paintings with their narrative potential in mind. Perhaps
taking a cue from [James] Ensor's canvases, Nolde exploited the
inherent theatricality of the mask motif to endow these still-lifes
with the same expressive drama he had formerly achieved in his
figure paintings. Thus, in the present work, one notices how the
frontally exposed masks slightly obscure two masks hung in profile.
The wide eyes and toothy grins of the prominent pair are contrasted
against the more sinister facial expressions in the rear, and
contrive an open-ended narrative concerning trust and deceit,"
the catalogue's entry stated.
lot, shown above, "Frauenprofil," is a 29-by-22 1/4-inch
oil on canvas that was executed in 1913 and has a modest estimate
of $300,000 to $500,000. It sold for $222,500. This very
strong and startling picture would probably have made Clyfford
Still sit up and take notice at the quite abstract background
at the left and perhaps to have also appreciate the catalogue's
noting that Nolde's "fiery pigments lend a palpable spiritual
zeal to this canvasEspecially when contrasted to the surrounding
shades of black and cobalt blue, the woman's neck and face seem
aflame with internally generated passions."
Nolde, as with Feininger, Nate and Marion chose 'difficult' works.
Rather than a typical flower subject, the two nobles are craggy
to the point of aggressiveness, adding considerable grit and substance
to the collection," Mr. Millard wrote in his catalogue essay.
(1890-1918), on the other hand, is best known for his highly expressionist
and agonized figure studies, but he also did so very interesting
cityscapes and Lot 28, "Haus Mit Trocknender Wäsche,"
a 43 1/4-by-55 1/4-inch oil on canvas, 1917, shown above, is a
depicts a scene in the village of Krumau in Bohemia. The catalogue
provides the following 1960 commentary about this work by Peter
a time when the mainstream of painting turned toward the abstract,
Schiele continued to be absorbed in his surroundings. Theories
of abstract painting held no meaning for him; instead he developed
his own linear rhythms. Observing an old house with laundry hanging
out to dry, he outlined the bright colored shirts and stockings,
napkins and trousers, with hard, angular, graphic contours, evocative
in their lively shapes of the human forms usually filling them.
The geometric color-pattern is till reminiscent of Klimt, and
at first glance his cityscapes frequently look like illustrations
for fairy tales; indeed a fairy tale imagination is at work here.
The ramshackle windowpanes beneath the weathered roofs create
a charming variety of geometric shapes; underneath them the odd,
wooden panels oblong shapes of rich brown, pink and yellow made
the viewer aware of the visual beauty of an old wall decades before
the variegated wall-surface became a tiresome visual cliché.
The freshness of Schiele's approach has in it the true delight
of first discovery."
an estimate of $8,000,000 to $12,000,000 and sold for $9,902,500.
works by artists not often seen at auction include Lot 58, "Vertical
Construction No. 1" by Naum Gabo (1890-1977), Lot 56, "Surface
Developpable," by Antoine Pevsner (1886-1962), and Lots 37
and 38, "Begegnung im Raum" and "Groteske,"
respectively, by Oskar Schlemmer (1888-1943).
is a 38 ¾-inch high bronze sculpture with stainless steel
spring wire on a wood base with bronze plate and was executed
in 1964-5. "While many of his earlier sculptures," the
catalogue stated, "were constructed from simple, geometric
shapes, the intricate weave of the present work creates a series
of gentle folds and arabesques. As they scale the height of the
sculpture, these fluid contours generate a strong sense of vertical
movement. Yet this dynamism is contained, paradoxically, within
the highly controlled matrix of wires." It has an estimate
of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $233,500.
sculpture is quite similar aesthetically to the Gabo though only
26 ¼ inches high. The artists were brothers and when they
returned to their native Russia in 1917 they became members of
the Constructivist movement and three years later published their
Realistic Manifesto that outlined their desire to produce art
that express motion and time and dynamism of their times. At one
time in the Frederick and Marcia Weisman Family Collection, this
work was created in 1938, and has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000.
It sold for $266,500.
"Begegnung im Raum," shown above, is a 33 7/8-by-20
¼-inch watercolor and pencil on paper mounted on board
that was executed by Schlemmer in 1928. It sold for $464,500.
War I, Schlemmer decided to abandon the Cubist style and began
to create his own peculiar "anthropomorphic constructivism,"
to quote the catalogue's entry. In 1920, he became director of
the sculpture department at the Bauhaus in Weimar and when the
school relocated in 1925 to Dessau he gave up painting and focused
on the theater and produced the very famous "Triadic Ballet."
He resumed painting in 1928, the year this work was executed,
and his subsequent work reflected his enthusiasm for the theater.
the present work, for example," the catalogue states, "one
notices the deep spatial recession to a blank wall and a red door.
Utterly devoid of domestic furnishings, this titular `room' seems
more like a stage. Also notable are the carefully orchestrated
movemens of the figures. The three women lean forward at the same
angle, and carry their arms in the same precise gesture. As their
forms intersect along the painting's central vertical axis, they
appear caught in a highly choreographed moment. The theatrical
space and movement in Schlemmer's later paintings was of course
deliberate, and a means of relating the individual figure to a
larger environment and community."
It has an
estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. It sold for $464,500.
"Fruit Préadamite," is a very fine marble sculpture
by Jean (Hans) Arp (1877-1966) that is 23 inches high and was
executed in 1962. This beautiful, organic work has an estimate
of $300,000 to $400,000. It sold for $398,500. It was later
cast in a bronze edition of three. "Fruit Préadamite"
clearly makes reference to the biblical Garden of Eden, and implies
a time prior to even the presence of Adam and Eve. The sculpture
itself corroborates this title, as its vaguely vegetal form suggest
a seed emerging from its pod, and struggling to assume yet another
shape. Arp's ability to convey this sort of continual metamorphosis
reached a peak in his late work, when great financial success
allowed to artist to work with more precious materials,"
the catalogue noted.
Brancusi (1876-1957) and Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920) are other
important artists who are better known that those mentioned above,
but share kindred temperaments in their powerful focus on individuality
and their strong and consistent style.
most sublime work is Lot 16, "Prometheus," a 5-by-6-by-5-inch
gilded bronze that was cast by Brancusi in 1911 and was once in
the collection of Juliana Force. It has a quite conservative estimate
of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It sold for $1,762,000. The
catalogue notes that there are three other bronze casts of this
work that are located in the Musée National d'Arte Moderne
in paris, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington,
D.C., and a private collection, two in plaster located in the
Musée National d'Arte Moderne in Paris and Muzeul de Artà
al R.S.R. in Bucharest, and two in cement located at the Kettle's
Yard at the University of Cambridge in England and a private collection.
In addition, a marble version is in the collection of the Philadelphia
Museum of Art.
of a nose and mouth and very shallow indentations for the eyes
"barely interrupt the sculpture's [ovoid] surface,"
the catalogue noted, adding that the piece is unusual in its brief
but distinct treatment of a neck.
Collection boasts three Modiglianis: Lots 13, 14 and 46.
'Alamïsa," is a 36 5/8-by-21 1/8-inch oil on canvas
that was painted in 1916 and has a somewhat ambitious estimate
of $6,000,000 to $8,000,000 since there have been quite a few
other good works by the artist on the auction block in recent
years. It sold for $7,152,500. This is a very good, typical
work, but it is not as exciting as some of his nudes and other
character studies. The face is a bit too fleshy, the hands are
not well defined and intrigue is absent from the sitter's expression.
The sitter's name is drawn on the smoky mirror or window at the
by an unusually rich palette and the striking beauty of its female
subject, the present work may be counted among Amedeo Modigliani's
most provocative portraits. Indeed, the same sitter would later
pose nude for the artist, prompting the long series of reclining
nudes that occupied Modigliani throughout 1917. Here, however,
she sits in a pose derived from Modigliani's youthful study of
Italian Renaissance painting. While working within this tradition,
Modigliani used certain modernist pictorial devices to enhance
the sitter's exotic allure, and thus achieved an exquisite balance
of composure and seduction.. The background of the present work
maybe favorably compared to those found in Bronzino's portraiture.
Like his compatriot, Modigliani usually framed his sitters with
fragmentary glimpses of domestic architecture and furniture. In
Modigliani's hands however, this compositional device ultimately
announces the modernity of his portraits. As the present work
demonstrates, the artist frequently treated these background elements
in a Cubist fashion.. At the top of the painting a dark brown
panel and the corner of a mirror certainly establish a shallow
interior space. Yet their rigid geometries and planar treatment
the mirror shimmers without reflecting depth) impose a grid-like
structure on the entire painting and assert the essential flatness
of the picture plane."
"Tete de Femme (Au Chignon)," is a 22 1/2-inch-high
sandstone sculpture of a women's head that Modigliani carved in
1911-2. The catalogue entry notes that the artist considered sculpture
"his true calling" and that "his twenty-five extant
sculptures represent some of the purest statements of his aesthetic
intent, and number among the undisputed masterpieces of his career."
Modigliani devoted himself almost exclusively to sculpture between
1909 and 1914, the catalogue continued, adding that "while
poor health and financial difficulties forced the artist to abandon
stone-carving in the last five years of his life, the distinctive
character of his sculpted works - their elongated proportions,
architectonic elegance, and enigmatic aloofness - remained crucial
to the development of his later, trademark painting style."
the most highly finished of his known sculptures," the entry
continued, "the work possesses the paradoxical combination
of structural clarity and emotional inscrutability that is characteristic
of Modigliani's finest creations." The entry also provides
the following interesting commentary on Modigliani by Jacques
Lipchitz, who met Modigliani in 1912:
like some others at the time, was very taken with the notion that
sculpture was sick, that it had become very sick with Rodin and
his influence. There was too much modeling in clay, too much 'mud.'
The only way to save sculpture was to begin carving again, directly
in stone. We had many very heated discussions about thisbut Modigliani
could not be budged; he held firmly to his deep conviction. He
had been seeing a good deal of Brancusi, who lived nearby, and
he had come under his influence. When we talked of different kinds
of stone - hard and soft - Modigliani said that the stone itself
made very little difference; the important thing was to give the
carved stone the feeling of hardness, and that came from within
the sculptor himself."
art influenced Modigliani and he reportedly would occasionally
light candles atop his stone heads and allegedly even embrace
them while under the influence of drugs, the catalogue also noted.
has an estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000. It sold for $3,852,500.
Lot 46 is
a Modigliani portrait of artist Chaim Soutine. Painted in 1917,
it is an oil on a 31-by-22 ¼-inch door panel. It has an
estimate of $600,000 to $800,000. It sold for $662,500.
was done on the door that separated the two artists' studios in
the apartment of their dealer, Léopold Zborowski and the
catalogue contains a photograph of the dealer seated in front
of the door. The photograph indicates that Modigliani's painting
went beyond the panel that is being auctioned.
Collection is not without 'big names" - it has works by Edgar
Degas (1834-1917), Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Georges Braque (1882-1963),
Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Fernand Léger (1881-1955), among
others, but they are generally fine examples rather than masterpieces
and the collection demonstrates that the obvious but often ignored
truth that often the best work of second-tier artists can surpass
the second-rate work of the "masters."
several very good sculptures by Degas including Lot 65, "Petite
Danseuse de Quatorze Ans." The original wax model for this
was executed circa 1879-1881 and this was cast in bronze in 1922.
The 38 ½-inch high sculpture has a muslin skirt, a satin
hair ribbon and a wooden base. It was once in the collection of
Walter P. Chrysler Jr., and has an estimate of $8,000,000 to $12,000,000.
It failed to sell and was passed at $6,000,000.
in the wake of Les Demoiselles d'Avignon., this powerful
gouache is among the most monumentally conceived and most strikingly
simplified images of the male head executed by the artist at this
crucial time in his development. This work combines the lessons
of Iberian and African statuary with the palette and brushwork
of Paul Cézanne to achieve a striking sense of monumentality,"
the catalogue noted. The work is related to "L'Offrande,"
one of the artist's masterpieces, which is in the Von der Heydt
Museum in Wuppertal.
represented with two wonderful works, Lots 6 and 52.
Lot 6, "Le
Port d'Anvers, Le Mât," is a stunning Fauve harbor
scene that was executed by Braque in 1906. An oil on canvas, it
measures 18 ¼ by 15 1/8 inches and has a modest estimate
of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It sold for $1,212,500. The
catalogue notes that Braque destroyed some of his early Fauve
paintings because he was not satisfied with them and that his
"deliberate" style tempered somewhat the wild Fauve
palette of some of his contemporaries but nonetheless "offered
its own opalescent lyricism."
"Verre et Compotier," is a 1931 still life by Braque
that is small but very elegant and fine. It is an oil on canvas
that measures 15 1/8 by 18 ¼ inches and has a very modest
estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. It sold for $332,500.
It once was in the collection of Sir Roland Penrose.
of most interest perhaps for many connoisseurs is Lot 9, "Etude
de Nu, Atelier Carriére (Portrait of Bevilaqua),"
a 20 3/4-by-22 3/4-inch oil on canvas executed in 1900 by Henry
Matisse (1869-1954). This work, which is shown above, is very
closely related to similar studies by Paul Cézanne. A naked
man stands with arms crossed looking to the side, proud, defiant,
forceful. Matisse's bravura brushwork here is superb and he has
framed the dark composition tightly with rectilinear forms contrasting
with the sinuous shape of the figure. This is not the typical
"flat" Matisse of simplified, bold color, but a very
painterly study of great quality.
strikingly powerful composition, which bears the influences of
both Cézanne and Rodin, is one of Matisse's most resolved
pre-Fauve works and illustrates the artist's constant dialogue
between differing media. It is interesting to note that a cast
of the sculpture most closely related to the present work, Le
Serf, is also part of the Smooke Collection. Matisse painted other
important canvases depicting Bevilaqua at this time, perhsaps
the most famous being the celebrated picture in New York's Museum
of Modern Art, L'Homme Nu, 1900.The archives of Galerie
Bernheim-Jeune record another, more frontal view painted at the
same time. While the Smooke picture differs from The Museum of
Modern Art's in several ways, the two works share a similar feeling
of raw physical power. The color scheme of MoMA's picture is cooler,
whereas in the present work Matisse employed bright tones, for
example the mauves, oranges and pinks in the background. Furthermore,
the brushwork in the upper chest of the present work goes far
beyond description of form and anticipates Matisse's movement
It has a
very conservative estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It
sold for $662,500. It is interesting to note that the work
was once in the collection of Georges Roualt (1871-1958), an artist
whose palette and brushwork are very, very similar to this work.
represented in this collection by Lot 49, "Passion (Christ
et Docteur)," a 10 ¼-by-10 ½-inch oil on paper
mounted on panel that has a modest estimate of $60,000 to $80,000.
It sold for $57,000.
"Anémones Dans Un Vase," is a nice floral still
life painting by Matisse that was painted in 1917-8 and has an
estimate of $3,000,000 to $4,000,000. It failed to sell. An
oil on canvas, it measures 28 ¾ by 23 ¾ inches.
Lot 8, "Le
Serf," is a 36 3/8-inch high bronze sculpture that was conceived
by Matisse between 1900 and 1903 and cast circa 1912 and is one
of 10 numbered casts and has an estimate of $3,000,000 to $4,000,000.
It sold for $3,412,500.
"Madeleine II," is another fine Matisse bronze sculpture,
22 ¾ inches high, that was conceived in 1903 and cast in
1951 and has a modest estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It
sold for $1,047,500.
of the catalogue is Lot 20, "Variation de Formes," by
Fernand Léger (see The City Review article on this artist). This very fine
work is a 23 1/2 by-28 ¾-inch oil on canvas that was painted
in 1913 and has an estimate of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000. It
sold for $4,072,500.
entry notes that this work is one of less than a dozen of the
artist's works in his "Contrastes de Formes" series.
"Largely unprecedented in the annals of early modern art,
these canvases explored the realm of complete abstraction with
both daring and confidence. Reducing his formal vocabulary to
cubes, cones and cylinders, Léger placed these pictorial
building blocks in excitable contrast, and manged to express the
modern machine age in wholly non-objective terms," the catalogue
very good work by this artist is Lot 30, "Les Quatre Constructeurs
Sur Fond Jaune," a 1950 oil on canvas that measures 67 ½
by 75 ½ inches. Part of the artist's popular series of
construction workers, it has an estimate of $3,000,000 to $4,000,000.
It sold for $5,722,500.
"Homme Assis a La Clarinette I," is a very fine 31-inch
high limestone sculpture by Jacques Lipchitz (1891-1973). It was
carved in 1919 and has a modest estimate of $400,000 to $600,000.
It sold for $717,500.
A fine companion
for the Lipchitz is Lot 50, "La Femme a L'Eventail,"
a 33 ¼-inch high bronze sculpture by Ossip Zadkine (1890-1967).
This very excellent work was conceived in 1914 and cast in 1920.
It has a modest estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for
Collection also contains four wonderful and charming, small bronze
sculptures by Honoré Daumier (1808-1879) that were originally
executed in terracotta circa 1849-1852 and cast in bronze in the
20th century. The figures comprise Lot 59 and are about 7 ½
inches high and the group of four has an estimate of only $30,000
to $40,000. It sold for $77,300.