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Twentieth Century Art

Christie's

10 AM, November 10, 1999

"Usine" by Frantisek Kupka

Lot 629,"Usine," by Frantisek Kupka, 1929-30

By Carter B. Horsley

Of the five auctions this fall at Christie's of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Art and Twentieth Century Art, this has the most interesting and some of the rarest, albeit not the most expensive, works.

One of the artist's whose works seldom appear at auction is Frantisek Kupka (1871-1957) and Lot 629, "Usine," show above is a fine example. The 23 1/4-by-28 1/8-inch oil on canvas was painted circa 1929-30 and is a great Precisionist work that is conservatively estimated at $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $134,500.

"Relief: Rhythms" by Robert Delaunay

Lot 630, "Relief; Rhythms," by Robert Delaunay, 1932

Similarly, Lot 630, "Relief: Rhythms," a 39 1/2-by-32 1/4-inch oil and plaster relief on canvas laid down on masonite, shown above, is a fine example of the work of Robert Delaunay (1885-1941)(see The City Review article on the artist). It has a high estimate of $350,000. It sold for only $244,500 just short of its low estimate. The catalogue notes that Delaunay was a major proponent along with Kupka and Francis Picabia of Orphism, which was "championed by poet and art critic Guillaume Apollinaire, who extolled the movement for taking Cubism in a more lyrical, pure direction."

"Torso in Space" by Alexander Archipenko

Lot 715, "Torso in Space," by Alexander Archipenko, 1936

Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964) is one of the great sculptors of the 20th Century and his works rarely appear at auction. Lot 715, "Torso in Space," a 22 3/8-inch-long, polished terracotta conceived in 1936 is not as angular as most of his works but is an exquisite form of great beauty. It is estimated at $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $101,500.

Another nice Archipenko is Lot 633, "Still Life with Book and Base on Table," a 18 1/4-inch-tall polychromed bronze that was conceived in 1918 and executed at a later date. Its high estimate is $50,000. It sold for $36,800, a bit short of its low estimate.

A very impressive, 84 1/2-inch-tall sculpture by Ossip Zadkine (1890-1967), Lot 634, is estimated at $120,000 to $160,000 and is numbered one of six. It sold for $156,500.

One of the nicest works by Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) to appear in recent years is a painted plaster model, Lot 639, for a unrealized monument to a Gabriel Peri, a French journalist killed as a hostage by the Germans in 1941 and commissioned by Paul Nelson, an American architect. The 18 1/4 inch high work is estimated at $250,000 to $350,000. It sold for $288,500.

Lot 657 is a delightful, 30-inch high painted bronze mobile by Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) whose strong colors and simple patterns indicate that he might have been a better sculptor than painter. It has a high estimate of $160,000. It did not sell.

Henry Moore is represented with several pieces, the nicest of which is Lot 670, a 17 1/4-inch-long polished bronze with gold patina that has a high estimate of $300,000 and sold for $200,500 at its low estimate, the same as Lot 671, a 9 1/4-inch-tall bronze of "Mother and Child Against Open Wall," a work first executed in plaster in 1956 as a study for a monumental sculpture he created for UNESCO, and sold for $277,500 within its estimates.

Lot 739, "Emma Dance," is an intriguing, open sculpture of painted and welded steel by Anthony Caro (b. 1924) that is 95 1/2 inches high and was executed in 1977-8. It has a high estimate of $80,000 and failed to sell.

"Dawn's Landscape VI" by Louise Nevelson

Lot 738, "Dawn's Landscape VI" by Louise Nevelson, 1975

The Phoenix Art Museum has consigned a 40 1/4-inch-high wall relief in wood painted white by Louise Nevelson (1899-1983) to benefit its acquisitions fund. The 1975 work, shown above, is a good example of her work and is conservatively estimated at $18,000 to $25,000 and sold for $26,450.

One of the better paintings in the auction is Lot 631, "1956, January (Zennor Head)," a 20 5/8-by-44 7/8-inch oil and pencil on board by Ben Nicholson (1903-1975). It is estimated at $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $222,500.

"1956, January (Zennor Head) by Ben Nicholson

Lot 631, "1956, January (Zennor Head)" by Ben Nicholson

Other highlights include Lot 641, a small oil and pencil on board by Joan Miró (1893-1983) that is very whimsical and failed to sell with a low estimate of $150,000; Lot 658, a large very dynamic oil by James Rosenquist (b. 1933) that has a high estimate of $180,000 and sold for $112,500, a bit below its low estimate; Lot 708, a large ink and water-based paint on paper by Victor Brauner (1903-1966) that is very attractive and has a high estimate of $80,000 and failed to sell; Lot 719, a large and impressive oil by Adolph Gottlieb (1903-1974) that is a bit startling for it has its sunburst and calligraphic element against a bright green rather than white background and is conservatively estimated at $120,000 to $160,000 and sold for $107,000; Lot 731, a large and dense. but strong, Hans Hofmann (1880-1966) that has a high estimate of only $250,000 and sold for $189,500; and Lot 723, a good large oil by Lee Krassner (1911-1984) that has a high estimate of only $150,000 and sold for $96,000.

More than three-quarters of the lots offered sold.

See The City Review article on the Nov. 9 evening sale of Twentieth Century Art at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Nov. 8, 1999 Impressionist and Post-Impressionist auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the afternoon auction Nov. 9, 1999 of Impressionist and Twentieth Century Works on Paper at Christie's

See The City Review analysis of Part 1 of the Sotheby's auction May 11, 1999 of Impressionist and Modern Art

See The City Review analysis of Part 2 of the Sotheby's May 12, 1999 auction of Impressionist and Modern Art

See The City Review article on the Christie's May 12, 1999 auction of Impressionist Art and 19th Century Art

See The City Review of the Christie's May 13, 1999 auction of 20th Century and Modern Art

Recap of the Spring 1998 Impressionist and Modern Auctions

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