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SELECTED WORKS 18 81 – 19 6 4


Edgar DEGAS

(1834-1917)

Étude pour Les Cueilleurs de pommes (study for The Apple Pickers)

1881 Pastel and pencil on paper Stamp of the signature lower left Degas

Cambridge, MA, Fogg Art Museum, January-February 1962, Paintings and Drawings from the Hanley Collection, p. 9, no. 51

58.4 x 39.4 cm (23 x 15.5 in)

New York, Gallery of Modern Art, 3 January-12 March 1967, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 6 April-28 Mai 1967, Selections from the Collection of Dr. and Mrs. T. Edward Hanley, Bradford, Pennsylvania, p. 28, repr. p. 62

ProvEnancE

Atelier Edgar Degas, Paris Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, Atelier Edgar Degas, 2e vente, 11-13 December 1918, lot 279 [Otto Wertheimer, Paris, 1951] M. Knoedler & Co., New York, 1951 Dr. and Mrs. T. Edward Hanley, Bradford, PA, c.1952 until at least 1967 [E.V. Thaw & Co., New York] M. and Mrs. Lester F. Avnet, c.1970 Lester F. Avnet Estate, 1972 Alice M. Kaplan Private collection, by descent Private collection, NY

ExhiBitions

Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, AlbrightKnox Art Gallery, Buffalo, Two Collections from Western New York, 12 January-10 February, 1952, no. 26 (as T. Edward Hanley collection)

New York, New York Cultural Center, A Selection of Drawings, Pastels, and Watercolors from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Lester Francis Avnet, 9 December-25 January 1970), pl. 26 et n.p.

l i t E r at u r E

Atelier Edgar Degas, vente II: Catalogue des Tableaux, Pastels et Dessins par Edgar Degas, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 11-13 December 1918, p. 162, no. 279, repr. Theodore Reff, Degas: The Artist’s Mind, New York, 1976, p. 252, fig. 167, p. 253 Linda Bantel, The Alice M. Kaplan Collection, New York, 1981, pp. 124125, no. 55, repr

New York, Wildenstein and Co., 22 November-30 December 1961,

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Continued on page 39


aristidE MAILLOL

(1861-1944)

Grande baigneuse debout (Large Standing Bather)

Model conceived circa 1900 Bronze with nuanced brown patina This cast made circa 1940-1942 Monogrammed on the base M Foundry mark Alexis.Rudier Fondeur Paris on the back of the base H 76 cm (29.9 in) The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by Olivier Lorquin, expert on Aristide Maillol.

ProvEnancE

Private collection, France, acquired from Eugène Rudier in September, 1945 Private collection, Paris, by descent from the above

l i t E r at u r E

Waldemar George, Aristide Maillol et l’âme de la sculpture, éditions Ides et Calendes, Neuchâtel, 1965, p. 129 (another cast)

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Continued on page 40


arshilE GORKY

(1904-1948)

Composition

Circa 1936 Pencil on paper Signed lower right Gorky 42.9 x 55.9 cm (16.9 x 22 in)

ProvEnancE

Artist’s Estate Manny Silverman Gallery, Los Angeles John Van Doren, New York ACA Galleries, New York Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, New York Private collection, Belgium

ExhiBitions

Santa Fe, Dallas, New York, Gerald Peters Galleries, Arshile Gorky: Three Decades of Drawings, 22 September-21 November 1990, pl. 20. Youngstown, Ohio, Butler Institute of Art, Arshile Gorky: Three Decades of Drawings, 7 April-5 May 1991

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Continued on page 41


hans BELLMER

(1902-1975)

Les MariĂŠs (Bride and Groom)

1941 Gouache on paper Signed lower right Bellmer 32.5 x 24.9 cm (12.8 x 9.8 in) Mrs Rodica Aldoux has kindly confirmed the authenticity of this work.

ProvEnancE

JoĂŤ Bousquet, Carcassonne Dr Azibert, Carcassonne Private collection, by descent Private collection, Geneva

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Continued on page 42


JEan DUBUFFET

(1901-1985)

Dhôtel aux trois mèches (Dhôtel with Three Locks of Hair)

November 1946 Pencil on paper Signed and dated lower right J. Dubuffet/47

Paris, Galeries Nationales du GrandPalais, Jean Paulhan à travers ses peintres, 1 February -15 April 1974, no. 530

38 x 31 cm (15 x 12.2 in)

ProvEnancE

Paris, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris-Paris: créations en France 1937-1957, 28 May-2 November 1981, no. 196

Jean Paulhan collection, Paris

l i t E r at u r E

Marie-Louise Jeanneret collection, Geneva Sotheby’s, New York, 6 November 1981 Private collection, Italy

ExhiBitions

Paris, Galerie René Drouin, Portraits à ressemblance extraite, à ressemblance cuite et confite dans la mémoire, à ressemblance éclatée dans la mémoire de M. Jean Dubuffet, peintre, 7-31 October 1947, no. 60 Paris, Galerie Berggruen, Rétrospective des dessins de Jean Dubuffet, 21 October -12 November 1960

Daniel Cordier, Les dessins de Jean Dubuffet, Paris, 1960, no. 7, n.p., repr. Daniel Cordier, The Drawings of Jean Dubuffet, New York, 1960, no. 7, n.p., repr. Cahiers du collège de pataphysique, dossiers 10 & 11, Paris, 1960, p. 77, n.p., repr. Andreas Franzke, Dubuffet Zeichnungen, Munich, 1980, p. 57, repr. Max Loreau, Catalogue des travaux de Jean Dubuffet, fascicule III: Plus beaux qu’ils croient (portraits), Paris, 2003, no. 79, p. 59, repr.

Paris, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Jean Dubuffet 1942-1960, 16 December 1960 -25 February 1961, no. 243 Genève, Galerie Krugier, Jean Paulhan et ses environs, May 1967, no. 65, repr.

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Continued on page 44


JEan ARP

(1886-1966)

Pflanzengriffel (Pistil)

Conceived in 1950 Bronze with gold patina Monogrammed HA and numbered II/III on the inside Cast by Rudier on 30 April 1959 88 x 40 x 36 cm (34.6 x 15.7 x 14.1 in)

ProvEnancE

Bâle, Galerie d’Art Moderne Paris, Galerie Albert Loeb Boris Leavitt collection, acquired in 1961 Christie’s New York, 14 November 1996, lot 220, Property from the Collection of Boris Leavitt William Rubin collection, New York Private collection, Monaco

l i t E r at u r E

Arie Hartog, Kai Fischer, Hans Arp, Sculptures, a Critical Survey, Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2012, no. 108, p. 108, p. 283, illustrated (wrong dimensions)

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Continued on page 45


alExandEr CALDER

(1898-1976)

Number 1 to 5

1954 Hanging mobile with painted sheet metal and wire Numbered on the top of the largest elements 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 56.9 x 190.5 cm (22.4 x 75 in)

This work is registered in the Archives of the Calder Foundation, New York under application number AO1773

ProvEnancE

Lewis Kaplan collection, London Acquavella Galleries, New York and B.C. Holland Gallery, Chicago Private collection, USA (acquired in 1975) Christie’s New York, Post-War and Contemprary Art (Evening Sale), 10 November 2004, lot 20 Galerie Hopkins Custot, Paris Private collection, Monaco

ExhiBition

Bloomington, University of Indiana Museum, Hope Collection, Twentieth Century Selection, 10 October23 December 1982

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Continued on page 46


Franz KLINE

(1910-1962)

Untitled

Circa 1954 Oil on paper Signed, dedicated and inscribed lower right 4th of July/to James Franz 60.3 x 46.4 cm (23.7 x 18.2 in)

ProvEnancE

Gift of the artist to his best friend, the sculptor James Rosati Estate of Mrs. Carmela Rosati Mc Kee Gallery, New York Private collection, Belgium

ExhiBitions

Washington D.C., The Phillips Collection, Franz Kline: The Color Abstractions, 17 February-8 April 1979, no. 51, repr. p. 76 (travelling exhibition: Houston, The Institute for the Arts, Rice University, May-July 1979; Los Angeles, County Museum of Art, July-September 1979; Seattle, Art Museum 1979) New York, Van Doren Waxter Gallery, Color(less), 28 October-23 December 2015

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Continued on page 47


augustE HERBIN

(1882-1960)

Chant (Song)

1958 Oil on canvas Signed, dated and titled lower left Herbin 58 ”chant” 130.3 x 97 cm (51.3 x 38.2 in)

ProvEnancE

Private collection, Belgium Galerie de France, Paris Private collection, USA Christie’s New York, 13 November 2015, lot. 1356 Private collection, Paris

ExhiBitions

Paris, Galerie Henri Bénézit, Herbin, June 1958, no. 3. Kunstverein Freiburg im Breisgau, Auguste Herbin, Retrospektive, 19061958, November-December 1958. Liège, Musée d’Art Wallon, Hommage à Herbin, Art construit, April 1960, no. 97

l i t E r at u r E

G. Claisse, Herbin, Catalogue raisonné de l’œuvre peint, Paris, 1993, p. 461, no. 1020 (illustrated).

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Continued on page 50


manolo MILLARES

(1926-1972)

Cuadro 121

1960

ExhiBitions

Mixed media on burlap Signed lower right Millares and signed, dated and titled on the stretcher Millares – Cuadro 121 (1960) 130 x 162.3 cm (51.2 x 63.9 in)

Paris, Galerie Daniel Cordier, Millares, 16 February-16 March 1961 Paris, Musée d’Art moderne de la ville de Paris, IV Salon : Grands et jeunes d’aujourd’hui, Peinture-Sculpture, 1962, no. 84, repr.

ProvEnancE l i t E r at u r E Galerie Daniel Cordier, Paris Galleria Odyssia, Roma Betty Estevez collection, Paris Private collection, Basel Sotheby’s London, 5 April 1990, lot 629 Champin-Lombrail-Gautier, Enghienles-Bains, 19 June 1991, lot 29 Private collection, Germany

José-Augusto França, Millares, Editiones Poligrafa, Barcelona, 1977, p. 249, no. 119, repr. p. 70 Alfonso de la Torre, Juan Manuel Bonet, Miriam Fernandez, Manolo Millares : Pinturas, Catalogo Razonado, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, 2004, no.205, repr. p. 237

Christie’s London, 6 February 2002, lot 24 Private collection, London

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Continued on page 51


Bram VAN VELDE

(1895-1981)

Untitled (Paris, rue des Grands-Augustins)

1961 Oil on canvas 130 x 162 cm (51.2 x 63.8 in)

To be included in the forthcoming Bram Van Velde catalogue raisonné currently being prepared by Rainer Michael Mason. ProvEnancE

Jacques Putman collection, Paris

Cologne, Wallraff-Richartz Museum, Bram van Velde, March-April 1966, no. 29 Turin, Galleria Civica d’Arte Moderna, Bram van Velde, November-December 1966, no. 62 New York, Knoedler Gallery, Bram van Velde: Paintings 1957-1967, April 1968, no. 5, p. 14 (illustrated). This exhibition later travelled to Buffalo, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, May-June 1968

Stéphane Janssen, La Hulpe, Belgium, acquired from the above by in 1967

Paris, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Bram van Velde, December 1970-January 1971, no. 66, p. 51 (illustrated)

Christie’s London, 30 April 1999, lot 20

Basel, Kunsthalle, Bram van Velde, April-May 1971, no. 62 (illustrated)

Private collection, Europe

New York, Lefèbre Gallery, Bram van Velde 1895-1981, February-March 1982

M. Knoedler & Co., New York

Christie’s London, 8 February 2001 lot 15 Private collection, Paris

Geneva, Musée d’art et d’histoire, October 2006-January 2007

ExhiBitions

l i t E r at u r E

New York, Knoedler Gallery, Bram van Velde, October-November 1964, no. 17 (illustrated). This exhibition later travelled to Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, December 1964-January 1965; San Francisco Museum of Art, February-March 1965 and Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, April-May 1965

J. Putman & C. Juliet, Bram van Velde, Paris 1975, no. 48, p. 197 (illustrated p. 85)

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To be included in the forthcoming Bram van Velde, catalogue raisonné currently being prepared by Rainer Michael Mason.

Continued on page 52


WiFrEdo LAM

(1902-1982)

Le Sabot dans le nez

1964 Oil on canvas Signed and dated lower right WiLam/1964 115 x 90 cm (45.3 x 35.4 in)

ProvEnancE

Galerie Jan Krugier, Geneva Vittorio Levi collection, Paris Private collection, Paris, by descent from the above

ExhiBitions

Geneva, Galerie Jan Krugier, 1965

l i t E r at u r E

M. Leiris, Lam, Milan, Fratelli Fabbri, 1970, no. 135, repr. M. P. Fouchet, Wifredo Lam, Barcelone-Paris, Poligrafa-Cercle d’Art, 1976, p. 123, no. 145, repr. S. Gasch, Wifredo Lam a Paris, Barcelone, Poligrafa-Galeria Joan Prats, 1976, p. 120, no. 36, repr. M. P. Fouchet, Wifredo Lam, Barcelone-Paris, Poligrafa-Cercle d’Art, 1989, p. 128, no. 145, repr. Lou Laurin-Lam and Eskil Lam, Wifredo Lam, Catalogue raisonné of the Painted Work, vol. II, 1961-1982, Lausanne, Acatos, 2002, no. 6409, p. 277

Hanovre, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Stockholm, Moderna Museet, Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Wifredo Lam, 1966-1967 Paris, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Totems et Tabous, Lam, Matta, Penalba, 1968

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commEnts


EDGAR DEGAS Étude pour Les Cueilleurs de pommes (Study for The Apple Pickers) 1881

T

his drawing, unusual for Degas, is a study for a terracotta bas-relief, now lost, though the Metropolitan Museum in New York fortunately has a posthumous casting in bronze. Its history is known and, furthermore, through comments left by Renoir and the sculptor Bartholomé and above all through Degas’s correspondence, it can be conclusively dated to the summer of 1881, when Degas was on vacation with his family. The bas-relief shows four apple pickers, including his cousin Lucie, aged 14, and his niece, the daughter of his sister Marguerite. The connection between the bas-relief in the Metropolitan Museum and our drawing is striking. Several studies, some of which are in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, address the same subject, though they are more cursory and less polished. Our pastel, in addition to its relatively large size, is impressive because of the emphatic graphic quality of the charcoal, but also – and perhaps even above all – because of the pastel highlights that play a major role in its aesthetic balance. The pastel surrounds the young girl, sitting with her legs lightly hanging, and fills spaces that could have been left empty. Degas made a good choice here, as the large format creates the need to fill these spaces, and it indicates that Degas had, from the beginning, conceived of this work as a considered composition.

Les Cueilleurs de pommes, 1881, bronze, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

This is reinforced by another detail – there are two bands of paper on top and on the bottom of the drawing, and the figure’s head overlaps into the upper band, suggesting that Degas intentionally chose the dimensions of the paper and composed the work as such. And finally, Degas’ choice of the color of the pastel is significant because in his work, the complementarity of colors is always important. Here, he adds elegance and finesse as well. –– Michel Schulman, Writer of degas-catalogue.com

Factsheet on page 6

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M

ARISTIDE MAILLOL Grande baigneuse debout (Large Standing Bather) Circa 1900

aillol created Grande baigneuse debout in 1900 in boxwood. It was shown in 1902 by Ambroise Vollard, and the art dealer bought it from the artist. It is mentioned in a contract made between Vollard and Maillol on 10 September 1902: “a large statue in boxwood – a woman standing with her arm behind her head – a unique work – original.” The history of this boxwood original is wellknown; in 1905, it belonged to Gustave Fayet; it then went to Vollard’s gallery and then to Druet’s. By 1908, it belonged to Count Harry Kessler, and in 1933, it joined the collection of Oskar Reinhart, and today it belongs in the Sammlung Oskar Reinhart am Römerholz in Winterthur. Maillol made a plaster mold of the wooden statue for an edition in terra-cotta and one in bronze cast by Claude Valsuani. In 1913, the Kunsthalle in Mannheim acquired from Vollard a bronze of the Standing Bather. The bronze sculpture of the bather bought by the Mannheim museum in 1913 is another version, and was sand cast by Bingen and Costenoble (height 75 cm – 29.5 in). Maillol made several versions of Grande baigneuse debout in plaster, with and without drapery, and altering both the face and the base. Our example of Grande baigneuse debout was acquired in September 1945 by a well-known connoisseur directly from Eugène Rudier, Aristide Maillol’s founder and dealer. Rudier developed regular commercial relationship with the buyer, who also bought at the same time another Maillol bronze, a cast of L’Île de France (no. 2/6). Eugène was the son of Alexis Rudier, who started the foundry in Paris in 1874, first in the rue Charlot and then in the rue de Saintonge. When he died in 1897, his wife and his son Eugène took over the business, but kept the “Alexis Rudier” signature. From 1902 on, Eugène worked for Rodin, and when Rodin died in 1917, he became the Rodin Museum’s exclusive founder. From 1905 on, Eugène also began doing castings for Maillol. In 1934, Eugène Rudier moved the foundry to new studios at Malakoff. His position as the exclusive founder for the Rodin Museum and the numerous commissions he received from the state for the 1937 International Exposition put the foundry in a prominent position in the field and allowed him to employ some forty people. At this time, Eugène Rudier also became Maillol’s exclusive dealer. Our bronze has been kept in the same family since it was acquired from Rudier in 1945, one year after the artit’s death, and this is the first time that it is offered on the market. This cast was made between 1940 and 1942, this has been confirmed by Olivier Lorquin, expert on and beneficiary of the artist. ––

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Factsheet on page 8


ARSHILE GORKY Composition Circa 1936

O

f Armenian origin, Gorky escaped the 1915 genocide and, in 1920, immigrated to the United States, where his work began to be known in the 1930s. His meeting with André Breton, himself in exile in New York, in December of 1944 had a great impact on the recognition of his talent. A considerable part of his work was lost in a studio fire in 1947. His style marks the transition between surrealism and abstract expressionism. “Dreams form the hairs of the artist’s brush. While the eyes serve as the brain’s sentinel, I communicate through my most intimate perceptions, through art; such is my vision of the world.” he affirmed. Gorky was one of the first members of the Federal Art Project; he was soon joined by Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Lee Krasner, and others. He is considered one of the masters that led to abstract expressionism, and his friend De Kooning recognized Gorky’s particular importance at the heart of this group: “I’ve met many artists, but Gorky had an extraordinary gift for striking your spirit – remarkable!” The emblematic drawing that we present here was done around the time that he began the series The Garden in Sochi, which marks a dramatic turn in the development of his work and shows the influence of Miró. ––

Factsheet on page 12

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HANS BELLMER Les Mariés (Bride and Groom) 1941

T

his 1941 gouache was used as the basis for a colored engraving (30.5 x 23.5 cm) that was printed in an edition of 200 copies, 10 of them on Japan Pearl, 1968, Galerie A.F. Petit. It was reproduced on page 90 of Hans Bellmer, Engraved Works, Paris, Denoël, 1969, with a preface by André-Pierre Mandiargues. Along with eight other gouaches – including L’Enfer, Les deux amies, Entre deux eaux, and Trois filles et la mort – Les Mariés was used in 1948 to illustrate an edition of Charles Baudelaire’s Les Paradis artificiels.

The German-born Surrealist Hans Bellmer (1902-1975), well known for his life-size pubescent dolls, devoted his artistic career to creating sexualized images of the female body, often distorted, dismembered, or fragmented. He also created a vast number of drawings in which he explored the fetishized female form. His works were heavily influenced by psychoanalytic theories popular at the time, such as Freud’s. “The precise sobriety that informs Bellmer’s drawings suggests a cool and controlled obsession (…) He was a precise, orderly man whose temperament (and talent) led him to constructivism. The dolls reveal his gift for constructive design – he reshaped the design of the human body – and many of his drawings constitute the discrete basis of an undefined sexual event, as if sexuality could be captured on a drawing board.” (M. Semff and A. Spira, Hans Bellmer, Munich, 2006, p.24).

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Factsheet on page 14


HANS BELLMER Les Mariés This gouache, titled Les Mariés, is a beautiful example of Bellmer’s experiments from the early 1940s. In November 1941, he joined the Surrealists Breton, Brauner, Lam, Ernst, Dominguez, and Masson, among others, in Marseille. After this brief encounter with them, he returned to Camille Canonge in Castres, where he continued to work on his drawings and decalcomania (decal transfer), a technique he had learned from Dominguez and Max Ernst. This gouache employs a method in which the medium (ink, watercolor, or paint) is applied to a sheet of paper, then covered with another sheet of paper so that the two can be pressed and rubbed together, creating a spontaneous, textured surface. The result is full of chance effects in which the artist can find chance images and develop them. In this case, two profiles appear, facing each other, and a seated doll-like figure wearing a short dress, striped hose, and boots can be seen inside the face on the bottom right. The technique creates a scene that seems fragmented by surreal vapors that rise and then evaporate before the viewer. Characteristic of Bellmer’s work, ambivalent and ambiguous shapes challenge reality as objects dematerialize on the paper. However, the shapes do not disappear entirely, so there remains a degree of representational content.

“Bellmer clearly took a real and sensual pleasure in drawing. His works combine erotic violence with a perverse refinement – an ornamental preciousness and excessive miniaturism.” (M. Semff and A. Spira, Hans Bellmer, Munich, 2006, p.41). Though this composition is clearly largely spontaneous, the meticulous finish testifies to his artistic control and eloquence. Bellmer imbues his works with an almost obsessive amount of detail. He achieves an overall decorative effect through the thin, sinuous lines that define the seated girl’s outline and make her dress seem to be blooming like a flower into the rest of the scene. Bellmer’s highly individual style and thematic interests are wonderfully embodied in this gouache, which also illustrates the role he played in spreading Surrealist iconography and techniques. ––

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JEAN DUBUFFET Dhôtel aux trois mèches (Dhôtel with Three Locks of Hair) 1946

T

his drawing is part of the series of portraits of writers More beautiful than they think made between August 1946 and August 1947, in oil, acrylic, pencil, and ink. Dubuffet found his victims at the Thursday lunches for artists and writers hosted every week by Florence Gould. It was even said at the time that Madame Gould’s choice of guests was made with the ulterior motive of offering their face up to the artist’s pencil. It was at these events that André Dhôtel had the opportunity to meet not only his great friend Jean Paulhan, but also Paul Léautaud, Antonin Artaud, Marcel Jouhandeau, René Bertelé and many others. The portrait of André Dhôtel is at the same time tender and incisive, expressive without being demonstrative. In the catalogue of the famous exhibition Portraits at the René Drouin Gallery in October 1947, Dubuffet expounded his development of the conception of the portrait: “For a portrait to work really well, I need it to be only just a portrait. At the limit of being no longer a portrait. It is then that it takes its function in all its strength. I like things taken to their most extreme possible limit.” The graffiti-like pencil lines reveal the contours of the head, the glasses, the three clumps of hair and the silhouette evoked by his clothes and his hands. We find ourselves right at the heart of the artist’s idea of portraiture, in the very essence of the spirit of effigy. ––

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Factsheet on page 16


J

JEAN ARP Pflanzengriffel (Pistil) 1950

ean Arp, a sculptor, painter, and poet, is incontestably one of the pillars of Modernism. He co-founded the Dada movement in Zurich in 1916 and later became associated with Surrealism. He was a strong influence on other artists from the 1930s on, including Kandinsky, Mondrian, Picasso, Duchamp, Klee, Schwitters, Janco, Breton, and Tristan Tzara, with whom he remained closely associated. Arp’s international career took off in 1950; his first solo exhibition had been held the preceding year, organized by Curt Valentin at the Buchholz Gallery in New York. It was a period of effervescent creativity for Arp as a sculptor, and it led to his world-wide success. A few years later, in 1954, he was awarded the Grand Prize for sculpture at the Venice Biennale, and in the ensuing years, he was commissioned for many projects and was the subject of international exhibitions, perhaps most notably, a major retrospective at MoMA in 1958.

In the sculpture Pflanzengriffel (Pistil), Arp has brought together the characteristic elements of his work. He modeled the work on an organic form, conforming to his interest in imbuing his sculptures with the metamorphoses of the natural world. The key theme of these metamorphoses, the cycle of life, is represented here by the pistil, the female reproductive organ of a flower, an originary vegetal form, a source of life. Arp’s association with the Dada movement and the Surrealists in the 1920s reinforced the artist’s abstract tendencies: “How difficult it is to make it understood that to love someone is not necessarily to sculpt their image, make their portrait as has been done for centuries, but to allow a man to realize his dream like a plant produces a flower.” (Jean Arp, Antoine Poncet, in Carreau, March, 1955, Lausanne). He used an oval in order to get closer to a universal creative form and lean toward a verticality that he described as aiming at infinity. “I model fruits that lie still, clouds that drift on and up, stars that grow ripe and drop, symbols of the eternal transformation into infinite space.” (Jean Arp, The Inner Language, in M. Jean, ed., Arp: Collected French Writings, 1974, London, p. 292). The organic voluptuousness of this sculpture, so full of life, so spontaneously expansive, suggesting a motion surprised by its intrinsic energy – these qualities are all emphasized by the high polish of the sculpture, reflecting its environment. For Arp, bronze was a material for perfection. It guaranteed the exact transcription of a plaster original into a durable form, allowing him to achieve works as “perfect” as he had conceived them. ––

Factsheet on page 18

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ALEXANDER CALDER Number 1 to 5 1954

N

umber 1 to 5 dates from 1954, a period in which Calder became internationally known and successful. Two years before, he had been awarded the Grand Prize for sculpture at the Venice Biennale, which was followed by a series of public commissions, including one in 1954 for the famous ceiling of the Universitad Central in Caracas (Carlos Raúl Villanueva, architect) and one in 1957 for the mobile in Idelwald Airport (now known as J.F. Kennedy Airport). Number 1 to 5 reflects the artist’s interest in mobiles with sweeping grace. And though his mobiles had always been asymmetrical, the suspended elements of this one appear more geometric. This balance is reinforced by his use of color as he conceptualized it in 1951: ”I have chiefly limited myself to the use of black and white as being the disparate colors. Red is the color most opposed to both of these – and then, finally, the other primaries. The secondary colors and intermediate shades serve only to confuse and muddle the distinctness and clarity.” (A. Calder, “What Abstract Art Means to Me”, Museum of Modern Art Bulletin, 18, no. 3, Spring 1951, pp. 8-9).

The poetic structure of Number 1 to 5, at once both exuberant and balanced, is based on the juxtaposition of the largest curved elements to the smallest triangles and trapezoids, which turn around several axes, as if the cosmos and its lightness had been miniaturized. ”Since the beginning of my work in abstract art, and even though it was not obvious at that time, I felt that there was no better model for me to work from than the Universe... Spheres of different sizes, densities, colors and volumes, floating in space, surrounded by vivid clouds and tides, currents of air, viscosities and fragrances – in their utmost variety and disparity.” (A. Calder quoted in Exposicion Calder, exhibition catalogue, Museo de Bellas Artes, Caracas, 1955). This is an emblematic work that perfectly demonstrates Calder’s desire to translate space into a symbol of energy and vital force. ––

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Factsheet on page 20


FRANZ KLINE Untitled Circa 1954

”W

ell, look, if I paint what ‘you’ know, then that will simply bore you. If I paint what ‘I’ know, it will be boring to myself. Therefore I paint what I don’t know.” Franz Kline

The pictorial style of the New York artist Franz Kline perfectly incarnates the immediacy that characterizes abstract expressionism. Though he began as a figurative painter, Kline developed his abstract style during the 1950s. First oriented toward black and white, he began introducing color into his palette from 1954-1955 on. Untitled, c. 1954, is a beautiful example of Kline’s experiments with color; patches of blue, red, and yellow overlap across a composition structured around a black form. The critic Robert Goldwater described the force of these compositions well: “Generated from within, by an immense internal unit, a swath or rectangle, a closed shape or a crossed one, that pushes and extends the perimeter until it has sufficient room to take its proper form.” (Robert Goldwater, in William S. Lieberman, An American Choice: The Muriel Kallis Collection, New York, 1981, p. 62). “Franz Kline’s Untitled (1954) exemplifies the Ab Ex artist’s spontaneity and singular voice in bold, primary-colored hues, punctuated by strategic brushwork in signature black paint. The linear quality and employment of negative and positive space that defined so many of his masterpieces, and set him apart from the all-over compositional structure of many of his peers, is entirely evident in this piece, which impacts visual space well beyond its 23 by 18-inch format.” (excerpt from the Van Doren Waxter Gallery website). ––

Factsheet on page 26

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AUGUSTE HERBIN Chant (Song) 1958

A

lthough he was involved with Cubism as early as 1909 when he had a studio at the Bateau-Lavoir, Herbin would eventually proclaim the downfall of easel painting and the advent of a geometric and pure abstraction. His fascination with the esoteric work of Goethe and the alchemists and his interest in color theory inspired his publication of L’art non-figuratif non-objectif in 1949, in which he established a system of correspondences between colors, forms, notes of music and letters of the alphabet. The present bold chromatic painting Chant is laid out according to the principles of his Plastic Alphabet. Each letter of the title corresponds to a color and form or combination of forms. For example, “C” is related to dark red and spherical and quadrangular forms and ”H” is a yellow orange and spherical or triangular. Herbin’s late paintings are geometric statements that prefigure Op Art and reflect his experiments with Hard-edge painting. In his own words: “it is necessary to have a color conceived strictly on the surface, linked to a shape conceived in two dimensions with means and technique without any rapport with the idea object.” (quoted in Herbin, The Plastic Alphabet, exh. cat., Galerie Denise René, Paris, 1973, n.p.). ––

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Factsheet on page 30


R

MANOLO MILLARES Cuadro 121 1960

aised in the Canary Islands, Manolo Millares was fascinated by traces and ruins since his very first visits to the museum in Palma, Mallorca. There he discovered the mumified remains of the Guanches, the indigenous people who lived on the island and became the victims of colonial conquest. “I realized that what I was looking at were the signs of the extermination of a people. That was the starting point for my work on burlap.” (M. Millares, cited in J.-A., França, Millares, Barcelona, 1978). Humanity’s vulnerability would become the principal theme of Millares’ work. As his practice evolved, the abstract and violent textures of his canvases came to be haunted by ghostly traces of human presence hiding in the folds and shadows of his paintings. “The artist records things in their raw state... he watches over the despair of our time and stitches up the wounds.” (M. Millares, cited in J.-A., França, Millares, Barcelona, 1978). This notion is conveyed by a visceral expression of fragility, fear, and faith. Millares began making collages in 1954, mixing sacking, ceramic, wood, and sand. It was only after he moved to Madrid in 1955 that he became interested in the work of Alberto Burri, whose works on burlap had a strong effect on him. Often associated with the development of Arte Povera as well as with the Art Informel movement alongside Antoni Tàpies and Jean Fautrier, Millares evolved an aesthetic that is more anchored in the horrors of history – the Second World War, Hirsoshima, and, of course, the Spanish Civil War. Millares was a founding member, along with Antonio Saura, Pablo Serrano, and Manuel Rivera, of the group El Paso, and his work expresses the state of a humanity scarred by deep trauma. “To immediate reality I oppose my protest and my anxiety. It manifests in torn cloth, pierced and wounded surfaces, the noise of strained ropes, the stupid wrinkle of beauty...” (M. Millares, cited in Manolo Millares Recent Paintings, exhibition catalogue, Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, 1960). By the end of the 1950s, Millares was internationally acclaimed, and his works were shown at the Biennales in São Paulo and Venice. New York’s MoMA added his work to their collections in 1957, as did the Tate Gallery in London in 1962. In New York, he was represented by Pierre Matisse, and in Paris, by Daniel Cordier. He was given a retrospective at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1971. The work that we present here, Cuadro 121, dates from this prolific period. Like a wound wrapped in bandages, this work affirms the double vision of destruction and salvation. Suggesting a relic from an unknown civilization, transformed by the scars of time, the work hides figurative illusions in its voids – two eyes and a mouth, perhaps, or the frail contour of a star, a hope. ––

Factsheet on page 32

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BRAM VAN VELDE Untitled (Paris, rue des Grands-Augustins) 1961

B

ram van Velde’s work is distinguished by a profound sensitivity and a singular approach to abstraction. This Dutch painter, born at the very end of the 19th century into a family of modest means, suffered deeply after his father failed in business and abandoned his family. This difficult period permanently marked the inner man who, many years later, wrote to his friend Samuel Beckett (and he was the first to recognize his talent and defend his works): ”I was looking again at the green and red painting, and I ask you, where was this painting born – in that corner of misery in Montrouge or in just any corner of misery?” Encouraged by the Dutch collector and benefactor Eduard Karmers, the young Bram traveled and discovered Matisse and Picasso. After moving to Paris around 1923, he found his own artistic language, which he used more and more from 1939 on. His intense formal dynamics, unique in the art of the second half of the 20th century, reveal a despair that emanates like a secret admission; ”I’ve always been afraid of showing what I have inside...” he said in a documentary made by Jean-Michel Meurice in 1967. That admission says more about his philosophy than his biography, with its echo of existentialism and the absurd, which appeared in literature during the Second World War. Bram van Velde was, in fact, one of the rare artists who expressed this important philosophic moment in painting. ”I paint the impossibility of painting”, he claimed. But it took a very long time for the true value of his work to be recognized. He was 50 years old before he had his first solo show, held in Paris in 1946 at Marcel Michaud’s Mai gallery, with 25 paintings.

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Factsheet on page 34


BRAM VAN VELDE Untitled (Paris, rue des Grands-Augustins)

He and his brother Geer represented the two extremes of the École de Paris, with Geer’s rigorous classical formalism and Bram’s subjective, flamboyant expressionism. There were strong affinities between Bram and the New York Abstract Expressionists. In 1948 Bram showed work at Kootz Gallery in New York and was noticed by de Kooning, who showed the same year at Eagan. The work we’re presenting here dates from 1961, the heart of a period of renewal in art and literature. It was done in the rue des Grands-Augustins, where Bram had lived since the end of the 1950s, lodging with Andrée and Jacques Putman, who put him up for several years, after he left Adrian Maeght. It was a place where he met up regularly with Samuel Beckett, Niki de Saint Phalle, Pierre Alechinsky, and others. The canvas is painted in diluted oils, light but distinct. The composition, constructed largely of angles and circles, suggests a complex abstract landscape with a remorseful, transparent human figure; one might characterize it as anthropomorphic abstraction. The formal and chromatic subtlety reveals a gestural poetry, a freedom of expression that made this artist a major figure of our modernity. ––

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B

WIFREDO LAM Le Sabot dans le nez 1964

orn of a Chinese father and a Cuban mother, Wifredo Lam invented a hybrid style of painting that blended western modernism with Afro-Caribbean symbols. He was affiliated with various avant-garde movements, such as Cubism, Surrealism, and CoBrA, that emphasized freedom and encouraged the emergence of the unconscious through the practice of collective and automatic drawing. Picasso took an interest in the young artist in Paris in 1937. Lam was fleeing the war in Spain, and Picasso introduced him to André Breton, Max Ernst, Victor Brauner, Henri Matisse, and others. After the defeat of June 1940, Lam met up with André Breton in Marseille and, the following year, left with him for Martinique and then Cuba. Back again in the land of his birth, he discovered, with the eyes of an artist in love with liberty, the misery suffered by the black population at the hands of Batista. In protest against their condition and in solidarity with them, he plunged into the esoteric and mystical universe of Afro-Cuban traditions. Fusing Expressionism and Surrealism, he developed a powerful totemic style, one that still resonated with the influence of Picasso. Lam left Cuba in 1945 to set out on extensive travels, visiting Port-au-Prince, New York, Paris, Caracas, and Stockholm, among others. He continued to show his work and built up an international reputation. After the Cuban revolution, he was invited to return to the country in 1963 by Carlos Franqui, an ex-guerrilla and the new Minister of Culture, and was warmly welcomed. Beginning in 1964 – the year he painted Le Sabot dans le nez – Lam divided his time between Paris and Albissola Mare in Italy. These were fertile years for him, and his work was the subject of numerous international exhibitions. Le Sabot dans le nez is emblematic of this remarkable period in which Lam developed a more refined and concentrated treatment of characters. Floating in an indefinite space, the figures take on the mythical power of imaginary civilizations in which masks of humans or animals convey a primary formal force. Each element of the painting seems to dance. The emotional impact produced by this effect evokes voodoo rites and Santería ceremonies. Going beyond that shamanistic dimension, this is a work profoundly inscribed in modernity. The quasi-monochrome palette creates a complex play between line and color, emptiness and fullness, and surface and depth. The distilled forms appear angular, geometric, and linear, animated by a subtle use of color in a mysterious dialect that emanates the purest poetry. ––

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Factsheet on page 36


We wish to express our deep gratitude for their contribution to this exhibition: Maurice Aeschiman, photography, Geneva Josephine Balloul, text and coordination, Brussels Antoine Béchet, framing, Paris Laure Bertrand, graphic design, Brussels Dominique Choffel, texts and coordination, Paris Stephan Neess, framing, Brussels Thierry Olivier, photography, Paris Alberto Ricci, photography, Paris Michel Schulman, degas-catalogue.com, Paris Cole Swensen, translation, Paris

Printing by Paperland, Belgium © SABAM Belgium 2018 © Sam Francis Foundation, California / SABAM Belgium 2018


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David Lévy - TEFAF Maastricht 2018  

David Lévy - TEFAF Maastricht 2018