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Impressionist & Modern Art
Christie's New York

7 PM, May 15, 2018

Sale 15971

Malevich 12

Lot 12, "Suprematist Composition," by Kazimir Malevich,  oil on canvas, 34 7/8 by 28 inches, 1918

By Carter B. Horsley

The evening auction of Impressionist & Modern Art May 15, 2018 at Christie's New York is highlighted by a very good abstraction by Kazimir Malevich, a great landscape by Vincent Van Gogh, an important sculpture by Constantin Brancusi, an excellent painting by Gustave Caillebotte, nice works by Matisse and Leger and an impressive group of pictures from the collection of Joan and Preston Robert Tisch.

Lot 12, "Suprematist Composition," is a 1918 oil on canvas by Kazimir Malevich (1879-1935) that measures 34 3/8 by 28 inches. 
An oil on canvas, it measures 34 by 28 inches and was painted in 1916. It carries the auction's highest pre-sale high estimate of $60 million when it was offered at Sotheby's New York November 3, 2008 and sold for $60,002,400 including the buyer's premium. The previous auction record for the artist then was $17 million obtained at the May 11, 2000 auction at Phillips, a very impressive price for such a severly intellectual, sophisticated pure abstraction by an artist whose name is not bandied about in most households.

This painting was executed the same year as the artist's published his "Suprematist Manifesto" and for the past 50 years had been exhibited in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam until it and four other works by Malevich were restituted to the artist's family.

In the lead article in the Arts & Leisure section November 2, 2008 of The New York Times, Carol Vogel wrote that "Last spring, descendants of Malevich gained titled to the painting and four others from the collection in an accord with the Stedeijk after a court battle in the United States. Now, after the heirs tried to sell the five paintings privately for around $300 million but failed, they are trying to sell one of them at auction. Often pubic relations are a last resort as well as a way to reach an international pool of possible buyers....Determined to offset some of the risk, Sotheby's has lined up what it calls an irrevocable bid on the painting. That means the auction house has a buyer who has contractually agreed to purchase the painting for an undisclosed sum. If someone elese is willing to pay more, the original bidder will get a share of what is called the upside: the difference between what he was willing to pay and the higher price." The Stedelijk Museum at one point had about 15 Malevich paintings.

At this auction, the painting, whose composition is complex and busy, carried an estimate on request and bidding started at $60 million.  It sold for $85,812,500 including the buyer's premium as so all results mentioned in this article.

The total for the auction was $416,040,020.

Van Gogh 24

Lot 24, "Vue  de l'asile et de la Chapelle Saint-Paul de Mausole (Saint-Remy)," by Vincent van Gogh, oil on canvas, 17 3/4 by 23 3/4 inches, 1889

Lot 24, "Vue  de l'asile et de la Chapelle Saint-Paul de Mausole (Saint-Remy)," is a beautiful landscape oil on canvas by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890).  It measures 17 3/4 by 23 3/4 inches and was painted in 1889It was once owned by Elizabeth Taylor. It has been widely published and exhibited. 

Detail oif Lot 24

Detail of Lot 24

It has an estimate of $35,000,000 to $55,000,000.  It sold for $39,687,500.



Brancusi n 19

Lot 19, "La jeune fille sophistiquée (Portrait of Nancy Cunard)," by Constantin Brancusi, bronze with an artist's carved marble base, 31 1/2 inches high overall, conceived 1928 and unique cast 1932

Lot 19, "La jeune fille sophistiquée (Portrait of Nancy Cunard)," by Constantin Brancusi, is a bronze with an artist's carved marble base, 31 1/2 inches high overall, conceived 1928 and unique cast 1932.  It is from the collection of Elizabeth Stafford and was acquired by her family from the artist in 1955.

It was exhibited at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1956 and was on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art frm 1978 to March, 2018. It has been very widely published. 

The catalogue entry provides the following commentary:

"Brancusi's inspiration for this equisitely refined, unconventional portrait, La jeune fille sophistiquée, was Nancy Cunard, a legendary personality of the Parisian années folles.  British-born and heir to the Cunard shipping fortune, she settled in France in 1920, eschewing the aristocracy for the avant-garde; she soon became muse and lover to some of the era's most brilliant writers, including Louis Aragon and Ezra Pound.  An archetypal beauty of the Jazz Age mold, Cunard was tall and pencil-thin, with wavy, chestnut hair worn modishly short and a proclivity for outré, trend-setting fashions....Brancusi rendered Nancy Cunard as a study in contrasts - in straight and curving, smooth and twisted forms - with a distilled, featureless bulb of a head supported on a sliver of a neck and surmounted by a cruller-shaped chignon of hair.  In profile, the head displays Cunard's prominent forehead and small, receding chin, while the corkscrew topknot can be read as a transposition into three dimensiuons of the stylish spit-curls that the sitter wore on either side of her face."

A wood version of the sculpture is at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City and there is a "working" model in plaster at Musée National d'Art Moderne.

The lot has an estimate of request.  It sold for $71,000,000.


Caillebotte  23

Lot 23, "Le Pont de l'Europe, esquisse," by Gustave Caillebotte, oil on canvas, 25 1/2 by 32 inches, 1876

Lot 23, "Le Pont de l'Europe, esquisse,"is a striking, almost monochromatic oil on canvas by Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894).  It measures 25 1/2 by 32 inches and was painted in 1876.

It is a highly finished study for his most famous work that the artist executed in two different versions, one of which is in the collection of the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth and the other in the Petit Palais in Geneva. The catalogue [for its inclusion in the November 2, 2002 auction at Christie's New York] notes that there are at least five other oil sketches for the composition but the present picture is the only known study for the painting in the Kimbell. The Kimbell version is tightly cropped and has a predominantly blue and gray palette while the Geneva painting has a different perspective and golden palette. An oil on canvas, this lot measures 25 1/2 by 31 7/8 inches and was executed in 1876. It has an estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000. It sold for $4,409,500. "What the two paintings share," the catalogue noted, "is an unabashed focus on the Pont de l'Europe's modernity. Wheras Manet and Monet had chosen to temper the industrial severity of the bridge's iron trellises by cloaking them in vapor, Caillebotte instead depicts the structure in sharp focus, exploiting its ruthless geometry to organize his composition.The top-hatted figure at the center of the Pont de l'Europe is traditionally said to represent Caillebotte himself, and his placement alongside a member of the working class may be intended to evoke the artist's own dual social identification."


At this auction, it has an estimate of $6,000,000 to $9,000,000.  It sold for $8,187,500.



Matisse 9

Lot 9, "Odalisque, mains dans le dos," by Henri Matisse, oil on canvas, 26 1/8 by 19 3/4 inches, 1923

Lot 9 is a nice odalisque with her hands behind her back by Henri Matisse (1869-1954).  An oil on canvas, it measures 26 1/8 by 19 3/4 inches and was painted in 1923.  It is from the collection of Dr. and Mrs. Jerome S. Coles.  It has an estimate of $15,000,000 to $20,000,000.  It sold for $14,375,000.

Picasso 1

Lot 1, "Deux Nus," by Pablo Picasso, colored wax crayons and black conté crayon over pencil on paper, 9 1/2 by 11 5/8 inches, 1962

Lot 1 is a lovely crayon and pencil on paper by Pablo Picasso entitled "Deux nus."  It measures 9 1/2 by 11 5/8 inches and was drawn in 1962.  It is from the collection of Preston Robert Tisch and his wife Joan.  It has a very modest estimate of $700,000 to $1,000,000.  It sold for $3,372,500.

Leger 18

Lot 18, "Les trois femmes au bouquet," by Fernand Léger, oil on canvas, 25 7/8 by 36 3/8 inches, 1922

Another Tisch oil on canvas is Lot 18, "Les trois femmes au bouquet," a very nice work by Fernand Léger (1881-1955).  It measures 25 7/8 by 36 3/8 inches and was painted in 1922.  It is one of three versions and the last.  It has an estimate of $12,000,000 to $18,000,000.  It sold for $12,968,750.

Miro  5

Lot 5,  "Femme entendant de la musique," by Joan Miró, 51 by 63 5/8 inches, 1945

Lot 5, "Femme entendant de la musique" is a large oil on canvas by Joan Miró (1893-1983).  It measures 51 by 63 5/8 inches and was painted in 1945.  It is property of Preston Robert Tisch and Joan Tisch.  It once belonged to Evelyn Sharp of New York and has been widely published.  It has an estimate of $10,000,000 to $15,000,000.  It sold for $21,687,500.

Giacometti  17


Lot 17, "La Claririere," by Alberto Giacometti, bronze, numbered 5/6, 23 3/8 inches high, 1950-2

Lot 17 is another Tisch property that is entitled "La Clairiere."  It is a bronze, numbered 5/6, by Alberto Giacometti that is 23 3/8 inches high and was made 1950-2.  It has an estimate of $10,000,000 to $15,000,000.  It sold for $15,781,250.

Feininger 16

Lot 16, "Trompenblaser I," by Lyonel Feininger, oil on canvas, 37 1/8 by 31 1/2 inches, 1912

Lot 16 is a colorful but very busy oil on canvas by Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956) entitled "Trompenblaser I."  It measures 37 1/8 by 31 1/2 inches and was painted in 1912.  It was once owned by Mark Goodson and acquired by Preston Robert Tisch and Joan Tisch in 1995.  It was included in the 2011 Feininger exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art.  It has an estimate of $5,000,000 to $7,000,000.  It sold for $6,162,500.

Nolde 15

Lot 15, "Iris and Stiefmuitterchen," by Emil Nolde, oil on panel, 28 3/4 by 34 1/3 inches, 1929

:Lot 15 is a strong floral painting by Emil Nolde that is not a watercolor but an oil on panel.  It is entitled "Iris and Stiefmutterchen" and measures 28 3/4 hy 34 1/2 inches.  It was painted in 1929.  It is property of Preston Robert Tisch and Joan Tisch.  It has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,500,000.  It failed to sell and was passed at $950,000.

Picasso 25

Lot 25, "Fillette au pendentif," by Pablo Picasso, oil on canvas, 25 1/4 by 21 1/4 inches, 1901

Lot 25 is a nice oil on canvas by Picasso entitled "Fillette au pendentif."  It measures 25 1/4 by 21 1/4 inches and was painted in 1901.  It has an estimate of $8,000,000 to $12,000,000.  It sold for $8,750,000.


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See The City Review article on the Fall 2016 auction of Impressionist & Modern Art at Christie's New York
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See The City Review article on the Spring 2013 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Christie's New York
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See The City Review article on the Fall 2012 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Sotheby's New York
See The City Review article on the Fall 2012 Impressionist & Modern Art day auction at Sotheby's New York
See The City Review article on the Spring 2012 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Sotheby's
See The City Review article on the Spring 2012 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Christie's
See The City Review article on the Fall 2011 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Sotheby's
See The City Review article on the Fall 2011 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Christie's
See The City Review article on the Spring 2011 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Sotheby's
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See The City Review article on the Fall 2009 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's
See The City Review article on the Fall 2009 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2009 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's
See The City Review article on the Spring 2009 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's
See The City Review article on the Fall 2008 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's
See The City Review article on the Fall 2008 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2008 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's
See The City Review article on the Spring 2008 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's
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See The City Review article on the Spring 2007 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's
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See The City Review article on the Fall 2003 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's
See The City Review article on the Fall 2003 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's
See The City Review article on the Spring 2003 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's
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See The City Review article on the Fall 2002 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's
See The City Review article on the Fall 2002 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg
See The City Review article on the Spring 2002 Impressionist & Modern Art day auction at Christie's
See The City Review article on the Spring 2002 Impressionist Art evening auction at Sotheby's
See The City Review article on the Spring 2002 Impressionist Art Part Two day auction at Sotheby's
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