Archive for the ‘sculpture’ Category

Design | Italy in Paris

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Osvaldo Borsani
Model at16 coatstand
in leather, brass and walnut
Produced by Tecno, 1961
Est €6,000 > 8,000



Italian Design
PIASA Rive Gauche
Paris | France
Exhibition: 10th April > 14th April 2014
Sale: 15th April 2014

In the 1980s London fell in love with design. It was cool to kit out your home with slick and beautifully made contemporary Italian furniture and lighting from Zeev Aram and newly-established shops, such as Atrium, and The London Lighting Company. From its launch in 1983, the names of architects and designers Vico Magistretti, Achille Castiglioni, as well as that of Ettore Sotsass, figured regularly and prominently in the British magazine Blueprint. At about the same time, and although I and other like-minded Londoners spoke no Italian, we began subscribing to, and each month poring over, great-looking Italian architecture and design magazines. Domus was one, Abitare another – the latter art directed and edited by the legendary Italo Lupi (former art director of Domus) in which the work of the designers mentioned above would also feature, alongside that of Carlo Mollino, Gio Ponti (Domus’s founder) and Piero Fornasetti – each still relevant but more representative of an earlier era. However the list of lots in PIASA Rive Gauche’s forthcoming auction, reveals other important Italian figures, who are perhaps less familiar, or were lost in translation, and also includes anonymous pieces.

After training as an architect and designer, Osvaldo Borsani (1911 >1985), see image top, joined the family furniture-making business Atelier Varedo (later Arredamento Borsani). Very prolific as a designer of storage furniture and seating, in 1953 with his brother Fulgencio, Osvaldo founded the technology based company, Tecno, which still exists and is a well-known producer of innovative furniture for offices and public buildings.

Unknown designer
Sofa in wool and brass, c 1950
Est €18,000 > 25,000

Ico Parisi
Suite of six chairs
in painted wood
and leatherette
c 1955
Est €6,000 > 9,000

Ico Parisi’s (1916 > 1996) style epitomised the modern Italian look of the 1950s. Trained as architect, he spent time in the 1930s as a film-maker and went on to design everything from interiors to jewellery, sometimes working with his wife, Luisa, a former student of Gio Ponti.

Pucci de Rossi
Rocking chair
in steel, prototype, 2001
Est €10,000 > 15,000

Born in Verona, Italy, artist, sculptor and designer, de Rossi (1947 > 2013) lived and worked in Paris from 1979. Post-modern by nature, rather than producing useful functional objects and furniture, he sought to imbue his creations with imagination, humour and irony.

BBPR
Trolley in metal and wood
One-off piece, designed for a
Milanese apartment, 1959
Est €4,000 > 6,000

Set up in Milan in 1932, BBPR was a studio of modern movement architects, planners and designers, composed of Gian Luigi Banfi, Ludovico Barbiato di Belgiojoso, Enrico Peressutti and Ernesto Nathan Rogers, who were responsible for the post World War II reconstruction of the city. They produced chair designs for Arflex – now back in production – and BBPR’s Olivetti showroom on Fifth Avenue, New York City (1954), is regarded as among the most innovative small-scale projects of the period.

Pierre Cardin
Table lamp in metal and glass
Produced by Venini c1970
Est €3,000 > 4,000

Significantly, because the Italian approach to production of furniture and lighting has always been crafts-based – which attracted designers from around the world to produce work for or with Italian companies – the PIASA Rive Gauche Italian Design sale features pieces by non-Italians, including, appropriately – it taking place in Paris – Frenchman Pierre Cardin (1922 >), who happens to have been born in Italy.


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Auction | Late Century Modern

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Cubo Di Teo
light sculpture by
James Riviere, 1960s
Auction estimate
£800 > £1,200 /
$1,330 > $1,996


Les Trois Garçons
Christie’s
South Kensington | London | UK
Exhibition 1st > 4th March 2014
Sale 5th March 2014

They have no rules. They just go for what they like, no matter the price: ‘It’s more about the aesthetic rather than the value.’ Their businesses are an extension of their lifestyle, say Michel Lasserre, Hassan Abdullah, and Stefan Karlsson – owners of East London’s Les Trois Garçons restaurant, neighbouring cocktail bar Loungelover, café-shop Maison Trois Garçons, and the Château de la Goujonnerie, France. The three boys also run an interior design practice, L3GC Design, that recently launched its own Charlotte Perriand-influenced furniture collection in collaboration with Portuguese furniture manufacturer De Pau.

The list of lots for the forthcoming Les Trois Garçons sale at Christie’s South Kensington bears witness to the trio’s utterly eclectic tastes; every item, within its particular genre, is of the best quality and workmanship. For those for whom a Claude Lalanne chandelier with monkeys or a toilet in the shape of a fly might not be their idea of the holy grail, but also for those who may crave a diversion from the mid-century-modern pieces, so in vogue at the moment, we’ve sifted through and picked out a selection of interesting and surprising, relatively simple, late 20th century furniture and accessories.

James Riviere (aka Vincenzo Teora Rivière) is a prominent Italian jewellery designer and sculptor, who also produced exceptional lighting and glassware from the 1960s to the 1990s. It’s worth noting that a similar piece to his 1960s ‘Cubo Di Teo’ light sculpture, above, sold for $10,000 / £6,000 at Phillips in New York in 2007. A pair of these in green comprise another single lot in Christie’s sale, which, at an estimated price of only £2,000 >£3,000 / $3,326 > $4,989, must be a bargain.

Hemispherical
lounge chair by
Christian Daninos, 1968

Auction estimate
£5,000 > £8,000 /
$8,315 > $13,304


The cushions in the picture above are not included with the lot and indeed are incorrect for this elegant Christian Daninos piece, designed to come with a large leather, cotton, or canvas geometrically-shaped pad in pink, white, or black.



Molecular table
lamp, left, by
Robert Haussmann,
20th century (2nd half).
Gaetano Sciolari
table lamp

Auction estimate
for combined lot
£600 > £900 /
$998 > $1,497


Hexagonal revolving
dentist’s cabinet,
1970s > 80s

Auction estimate
£800 > £1,200 /
$1,330 > $1,996
Pair of Fase
table lamps, 1960s
Auction estimate
£700 > £1,000 /
$1,164 > $1,663


Fase lamps – as seen on desks in Mad Men, in Indiana Jones, and especially in the movies of Spanish film director Pedro Almodovar – were produced by one of Spain and Europe’s eponymously-named leading lighting manufactures from the 1950s to the 1970s.


Corner cabinet
Eugene C, 1980s

Auction estimate
£1,500 > £2,500 /
$2,495 > $4,158

Geometric chandelier,
attributed to
Gaetano Sciolari,
20th century (2nd half )

Auction estimate
£700 > 1,000 /
$1,167 > $1,667

Photos © Christie’s Images Limited, 2014


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The publishers of The Blog insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier


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Art | Prune Nourry’s Terra Cotta Daughters

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Terracotta Daughter #1, 2013
Terracotta Daughter #2, 2013
Terracotta Daughter #3, 2013
Terracotta Daughter #4, 2013
Terracotta Daughter #5, 2013
Terracotta Daughter #6, 2013
Terracotta Daughter #7, 2013
Terracotta Daughter #8, 2013


Terracotta Daughter #1–#8, Prune Nourry, 2013
Lithographs, 50 x 70 cm
Edition of 80 + 12 AP
€400.00 each + packing + shipping
More information: info@prunenourry.com

Making its debut last week on a 6.4m / 21ft screen at Art Basel – Miami Beach, Terracotta Daughters, which traces the course of multi-disciplinary French artist Prune Nourry’s latest project, is a full-length feature documentary. The large-scale finished work itself, the Terracotta Daughter Army, presented for the first time at Magda Danysz Gallery in Shanghai in September, 2013, comprises 108 unique, life-size sculptures, produced in collaboration with local Chinese craftsmen, and is the artist’s reflection, through the appropriation of the unearthed Xi’an two-thousand-two-hundred-year-old Terracotta Warrior army, upon the issue of gender imbalance in China. It has been extended into the edition of eight prints shown above.

Prune Nourry, born in 1985, New York-based, where she is currently resident artist at the Invisible Dog Center, Brooklyn, presented her project Genesis – a demure pole dance, in which a model in skin-coloured leotard performs to a slow classical piece by Vivaldi – for the first time at the historic Casino Venier in conjunction with the 2013 Venice Biennale.

In 2010, as part of a 3-year project based around gender imbalance in India, drawing parallels between the cow – sacred animal and symbol of fertility – and her observance of the undervalued condition of India’s women, Nourry created life-like figurative sculptures, the Holy Daughters, that were part sacred cow, part girl, in resin, placing them in the streets of New Delhi before stepping back to film the reactions of local men. Bronze sculptures of the same design were included in exhibitions in 2011, in Berlin and Paris. She has taken part in many international group shows since 2004, as a performance artist as well as contributing installations, and had her first solo show in 2011.

After Shanghai, the Terracotta Daughter Army goes on a world tour, stopping first in Paris at the Centquatre Art Centre and Magda Danysz Gallery, and visiting Switzerland and the USA, before returning to China in 2015, where it is to be buried – the event no doubt, documented on film – until 2030.

Photos Anne-Gloria Lefevre
Courtesy Prune Nourry


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Photography | Steichen & Chevallier

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Marlene Dietrich, Edward Steichen, 1931
Courtesy of The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander in memory of Ellyn Hollander 2012.234
Steichen/Vanity Fair ©Condé Nast

Marlène Dietrich
, Anthony Armstrong Jones, London, c 1955
Signed with the dedication ‘J’ai toujours su que tu es le plus grand mais
depuis que j’ai envahi ton métier je suis à genoux, Marlènou’
Auction estimate €200-300




Collection Maurice Chevalier
Hôtel Drouot Richelieu – Salle 5
Paris, France
Exhibition: 7th & 8th December, 2013
Sale: 9th December, 2013

Edward Steichen in the 1920s and 1930s:
A Recent Acquisition

Witney Museum of American Art
New York City, USA
Exhibition: 6th December, 2013
– 23rd February, 2014

Two very different portraits (above) of the same woman, Marlène Dietrich – the first taken in 1931 by pioneering American photographer Edward Steichen (1879-1973) – the second about twenty-four years later, c 1955, by Anthony Armstrong Jones (later, Lord Snowdon) – feature in two very different events, the first starting at the end of this week, the other taking place at the beginning of next.


Paul Robeson as the Emperor Jones, Edward Steichen, 1933
Courtesy of Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander in memory of Ellyn Hollander 2012.234
Steichen/Vanity Fair ©Condé Nast


Steichen shot the beguiling and beautiful, young German-born actress/singer Dietrich, ten years into her career, exclusively for Vanity Fair magazine. It is one of approximately forty-five works, including celebrity portraits, of among others, Winston Churchill, Paul Robeson, Eugene O’Neill, and fashion photographs he created during his 1923 to 1937 stint as chief photographer for Condé Nast Publications Vanity Fair and Vogue. Together with photographs he shot for advertising campaigns, and a selection of images that illustrate Steichen’s obsession with flowers, they comprise The Witney’s exhibition Edward Steichen in the 1920s and 1930s: A Recent Acquisition.


Photographs above from top
Portrait of Maurice Chevalier, New York, Irving Penn, 1948
Auction estimate €3,000-5,000

Audrey Hepburn in religious costume
Dedicated ‘To Maurice and ‘Papa’ with love and great admiration, Audrey’
Auction estimate €150-200

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, 1946, Dorothy Welding
Signed ‘Wallis Windsor et Edward Duke of Windsor’
Auction estimate €100-150



The Snowdon picture is one of eight portraits of Dietrich, each signed with a variety of sometimes cryptic dedications, for example: ‘Pour Maurice, de sa viel(le) ami(e) Marlène’ – scrawled over a picture of her in rather masculine attire – that over the course of both their careers, she presented to French entertainer Maurice Chevalier (1888-1972). And these are just a small sample of the 547 items, including many more signed and dedicated celebrity photographs – from the likes of Charlie Chaplin, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, to Brigitte Bardot, and Elvis Presley – as well as signed and collectible books, keepsakes, his signature hats and canes, furniture, wines, rugs, pianos, and even Chevalier’s 1967 Mercedes Benz 250 S, that will go under the hammer at one of Paris’s premier auction houses, in the Collection Maurice Chevalier sale at Hôtel Drouot, on Monday.


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The publishers of The Blog insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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Auction | Palm Beach Modern

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Paul McCobb wood and metal
shelving unit/table, made at Wichendon, USA

Estimate $1,000-2,000




Fine Art, Decorative Arts, & Modern Design
Palm Beach Modern Auctions
West Palm Beach, Florida, USA
30th November, 2013

Lenny Kravitz is on it. David Lynch is included. But Frank Ghery and Donald Judd don’t make it and very surprisingly, neither does Harry Bertoia. Of the remaining seventy-five American furniture designers listed on Wikipedia, work by only a handful: Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, Eero Saarinen, Isamu Noguchi, Frank Loyd Wright, Florence Knoll, and Marcel Breur – although we still think of him as Hungarian, or even German – regularly  come up in UK auctions. The same is probably true for the rest of Europe, which is as well served with British-designed modern and mid-century modern furniture, as we are with Dutch, French, Italian and German designers, plus, of course the work of the many and revered Scandinavians.

In the big New York sales at Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and at Rago in New Jersey, furniture from American designers like Wendel Castell and George Nakashima, regularly appear, but there are those that, even when their names do come up don’t ring more than vague bells with many of the UK’s modern furniture enthusiasts. Tomorrow’s Palm Beach Modern Auctions’ Fine Art, Decorative Arts, & Modern Design sale of 320 lots, includes items by many of those mentioned above, alongside a whole host of other talented American designers with perhaps less international reputations.


Pair of Gary Gutterman perspex stools on
wheels, manufactured by Gary Gutterman, USA

Estimate $500-750

Cabinet/dresser, attributed to Karl Springer, made
in the USA by Karl Springer Ltd, in wood and mirrored metal

Estimate $3,000-4,000

Milo Baughham wood and metal end
table, manufactured by the designer in the USA

Estimate $400-600

Pair of Ward Bennet ‘Sled’ stainless steel and
leather lounge chairs, made in the USA by Brickel Associates

Estimate $3,000-4,000

Travertine, wood and glass cabinet and wall-mounted cabinet
designed by Vladimir Kagan. Made in the USA by Kagan-Dreyfuss Inc

Estimate $3,500-5,000


The New York Times is quoted as having said that Vladimir Kagan is one of the most important furniture designers of the 20th century and that furniture designed by him in the 40s, 50s and 60s have become icons of modernity. Published in 2004, The Complete Kagan: Vladimir Kagan, A Lifetime of Avant-Garde Design, has a preface by Tom Ford, who is a fan. Originally German, born in 1927, Kagan emigrated to the United States in 1938, studying architecture in New York, before opening his first shop there in 1949. His early work included furniture for the Delegate’s Cocktail Lounge at the United Nations and furniture for the ‘Monsanto House of the Future’ displayed at Disneyland from 1957 to 1967. London’s V&A, the Vitra Design Museum and Die Neue Sammlung in Germany all have items of his work in their permanent collections.

Another German émigré Karl Springer, born 1931, who moved to New York in 1957, began his career as a bookbinder, establishing a furniture workshop in Manhattan in the early 60s. By the 1980s there were Karl Springer Showrooms in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Munich and Tokyo. For his bold statement, luxury pieces based on Art Deco, Chinese and Bauhaus styles, made in wood, perspex or plexiglas (called lucite in the US), and mirrored metals, Springer demanded the highest level of materials and delivered high quality craftsmanship.

Gary Gutterman, who formed Axius Designs Inc in 1971, in New York, with Leigh Hammond, made futuristic pieces in stainless steel, glass and perspex.

The much-copied Planner Group furniture by Paul McCobb (1917-1969) was in continuous production at Winchendon, Massachusetts from 1949-1964 and is regarded as one of the best selling collections of the 1950s. From 1950 to 1955, the designer won five Musem of Modern Art Good Design Awards. As well as designing furniture, McCobb produced a wide range of items including textiles, wallpaper, lighting, dinnerware and radios.


‘Writing chair’ in wood and and cane, designed
and manufactured by Pierre Jeanneret in France and India

Estimate $2,000-2,500

Cabinet (in the manner of) Raymond Loewy,
made in Canada by Treco, in plastic, rosewood and metal

Estimate $800-1,200

Mahogany Frank Lloyd Wright-designed
cabinet, made in the USA by Heritage Henredon

Estimate $3,000-4,000


Milo Baughman defined modern design as ‘elegant yet accessible’. Influenced by the engineering and functional ideas developed at the Bauhaus, he fused them with midcentury-modern explorations of materials, earning himself many major manufacturing contracts. Baughman’s wood-panelled Tuxedo Sofa was the inspiration for one gracing Don Draper’s office in the TV drama Mad Men.

Ward Bennett (1917-2003) designed more than 150 chairs, many of which have become classics and can found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Quitting school at thirteen to work in New York’s garment district, at fifteen he designed his first fashion collection. The following year he set off for Europe, where he studied at art schools in Paris and Florence. Mostly self-taught, his skills ranged from illustration, sculpture, and jewellery-making to furniture, and interiors. Returning to New York and quickly developing a reputation for his high-end furniture designs after, his client list included: David Rockefeller, the Chase Manhattan Bank, Tiffany & Co, Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner, and would also work for Italian industrialist Gianni Agnelli. Bennett is considered to be the first American furniture designer to use industrial materials, in his designs for furniture – well in advance of the 1970s fad for hi-tech products.

Furniture by globally-famous, American design heroes, Frank Loyd Wright and Raymond Loewy, are rare sights in Europe. Both are represented in the Palm Beach Modern sale, along with, among others, the great Italian, Gio Ponti, and important French designers, Boris Tabakoff, Piere Paulin and Jean Royere, as well as Swiss maker Pierre Jeanneret (cousin of the more famous Le Corbusier).


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The publishers of The Blog insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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Cars | Art-of-the-States

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Sotheby’s
Art of the Automobile
Sotheby’s Manhattan Galleries
New York, USA
Exhibition: 18th – 21st November, 2013
Sale: 21st November

Pistonhead: Artists Engage the Automobile
1111 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, Florida, USA
3rd – 8th December, 2013

A couple of years ago, during one of her TV talk shows, American media proprietor, actress, producer, and philanthropist, Oprah Winfrey handed out little sealed boxes to each of her 275 member audience. Deafening shrieks, screams and laughter filled the air when, invited by her to open them, each box contained the keys to a brand new German VW Beetle, which Oprah had given to everyone as a present.

It’s no surprise that, despite these turbulent economic times, in the country which boasts 16 lane highways, where the car is adored and deified, some of the most phenomenal, car-related events in the world take place there.

Another of these is due to happen next week, when the sky-high 10th floor galleries of Sotheby’s Manhattan headquarters building at 1334 York Avenue provides the extraordinary setting for an extraordinary exhibition of over 25 rare and historic cars from all the great makers around the world. All will go under the hammer in RM Auctions and Sotheby’s Art of the Automobile sale. The star attraction, one of the most coveted and collectible cars of all time, the 1964 Ferrari 250 LM, with coachwork by Carrozzeria Scaglietti, which finished eighth overall and first in class at the 1968 24 Hours of Daytona, with the sale’s highest estimated price tag of $12m-15m, is ironically, again, not an American car. Alongside it, however, beautiful, legendary and rare US Lincoln, Chevrolet and Plymouth designs, as well as cars from many international celebrated producers – Aston Martin, Talbot-Lago, Mercedes Benz, Maserati – the list is endless – each with legitimate provenance and from every era of motoring history are well-represented.

Meanwhile, a little further south, but shortly after, Venus Over Manhattan, Powered by Ferrari, will exhibit 14 cars transformed into sculptures since 1970 by leading modern and contemporary artists in their exhibition Piston Head: Artists Engage the Automobile, at 1111 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, Florida, the dramatic open air parking structure designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron. Piston Head is being organised in conjunction with Art Basel Miami Beach – the annual art fair considered one of the biggest events on the world’s art calendar. Works by an international array of artists: Ron Arad, Bruce High Quality Foundation, César, Dan Colen and Nate Lowman, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Virginia Overton, Olivier Mosset / Jacob Kassay / Servane Mary, Richard Phillips, Richard Prince, Tom Sachs, Salvatore Scarpitta, Kenny Scharf, and Franz West, will be on show. Prices for individual pieces will not be announced in advance, but will range from $250,000-7m. And while here, another Ferrari, the LaFerrari state-of-the-art hybrid supercar, unveiled at the 2013 Geneva Auto Show, is likely to steal the show, one of the major highlights will be when Los Angeles-based artist Joshua Callaghan creates a new work in situ – a signature ‘rubbing’ of the car – as part of the exhibition.

Images from top
Ford Galaxie (Car), 2013, detail
Olivier Mosset, Jacob Kassay and Servane Mary
1964 Ford Galaxie

Ferrari 250 LM, 1964
Estimate $12,000,000-15,000,000

Plymouth Road Runner Superbird, 1970
Estimate $400,000-500,000

Talbot-Lago T150-C SS Teardrop Cabriolet, 1938
Estimate $8,000,000-10,000,000

Lincoln Indianaolis Exclusive Study, 1955
Estimate $2,000,000 -2,500,000

Aston Martin DB2/4 Mk II ‘Supersonic’, 1956
Estimate $1,800,000-2,400,000

Vanishing Point (The Artist Cut) (Car), 2012 – 13
Richard Prince

Untitled (Car), 1986, detail, Keith Haring
Enamel on 1963 Buick Special

Photos top, 7&8 Courtesy Venus Over Manhattan

Photos 2-6, Michael Furman ©2013
Courtesy RM Auctions and Sotheby’s New York


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The publishers of The Blog insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees which may, under any circumstances, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier

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Auction | Playing with the Female Form

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Modern & Contemporary Photographs
Hotel Drouot, Paris, France
Auction: 30th October, 2013
Private previews: by appointment until 25th October, 2013
Exhibition: Hotel Drouot
29th October & 30 October, 2013


Above, Purple Nude. Erwin Blumenfeld, New York, 1940
€1,500–2,000


Distorsion #159. Andre Kertesz, Paris, 1933
€8,000–10,000


The works about to go on show in Centre Pompidou’s Surrealism & the Object (30th October 2013 – 3rd March 2014) demonstrate that objects were the main preoccupation of the surrealist movement. The human body was another, but often, as in Man Ray’s photograph The coat-stand (1920) – one of the exhibits – the body, almost invariably female, was itself objectified.

Ray’s image of Jean Cocteau, showing the artist with his sculpture Débourre-pipes (1928, not shown), the floating, decapitated head of a woman sculpted in wire, is one of almost 300 lots in a varied sale of Modern & Contemporary Photographs at Hotel Drout in Paris, in which an array of early travel photography, modernist interiors, Parisian and American street life, glamour portraits, and portraits of a good number of other famous artists, will be auctioned.

A total of 44 photographs by André Kertesz, from a Swiss collection, exude a strong presence amongst the list of lots. In 1930, Carlo Rim, the editor of the magazine VU, asked Kertész to take his portrait. Kertész, who was already experimenting with distortion, persuaded Rim to do it at the hall of distorting mirrors at Luna Park fun fair in the Bois de Boulogne. Shortly after, a pair of portraits of Rim – one with an overly tapered body, the other making him appear dwarfed – appeared together in VU.

The idea of using distortion in art probably had its genesis in the African and Polynesian wood carvings that had begun to appear in Europe in the late 19th century, the influence of which was absorbed and first exploited by Picasso and later by, among others, Henry Moore, as well as the surrealist sculptor, Giacometti. For many artists, exploring distortion was also a way of dealing with the atrocious mutilations that were the legacy of the Great War.

During the early years of the new century, women had begun to demand, and had won, greater freedom for themselves. Parisian women, during the 1920s, were the first to be released from the corset by Coco Chanel and, in the same decade two-piece bathing costumes, which were little more than a bra and skimpy shorts set, began to appear on the French Riviera. Nudes, as the subjects of ‘tasteful’, artistic photography were becoming less taboo, which led to magazine editors in France becoming more daring. And, impressed by the distorted portraits he saw in VU, the editor of the rather racy Le Sourire (Smile) magazine asked Kertész to make a series of distorted nude images of two female models. However, the editor didn’t – or was not allowed – to publish them, and it wasn’t until 1976, when they appeared in the book André Kertész Distortion (Editions du Chêne Paris), that they became one of the photographer’s most famous series. A number of images from this series, including the bizarre and disturbing Distortion #159, (above), and some of Kertész’s earlier, experimental prints are also included in the sale.


Les Jeux de la Poupée. Hans Bellmer, 1935
€1,000–1,500



Nu blanc. Jeanloup Sieff, Paris, 1967
€2,000–3,000


Gog et Magog. Pierre Molinier, c 1965
€2,500-3,000


As a child, in Germany, Hans Bellmer, (1902-1975) found refuge from an oppressive family atmosphere in a secret garden decorated with toys and visited by young girls, who joined in sexual games. In the 1920s he became involved with the Dada movement, and in 1933, built his life-sized Puppe (Doll) sculpture, a representation of his yearning to escape from the reality of Nazi Germany. In 1934, he published ten photographs of this work accompanied by a prose poem in which he demonstrated how the seemingly innocent pastimes of his childhood had developed into the sexual fantasies of an adult. Acclaimed and adopted by the Parisian surrealists in 1935, he published a French translation of Die Puppe – La Poupé. That summer he altered the sculpture giving it ball-joints to allow for increased mobility – the stomach became a large sphere around which two pelvises could be articulated, each with its own legs and feet – pushing it into the area of distortion. The auction includes a hand-tinted print, made in 1970, entitled Les Jeux de la Poupée (1935, above), and dedicated to Man Ray.

Meanwhile, in a theatrical form of distortion, former landscape painter, who quickly turned to fetishistic/erotic photography, Pierre Molinier’s (1900-1976) Gog et Magog photomontage (1965, above) typically, placing her in a sexy stage set, removes his model’s body, reducing her to a head at the crux of four stockinged legs, each terminating in patent and pointed stilletto-heeled shoes. With something akin to Molinier’s staging, for Jean Paul-Goude’s Grace Jones Revised and updated (1978, not shown, a print is included in this sale), each of the black singer’s limbs, as well as her neck, are slimmed down, stretched and given a highly-polished finish, so that she resembles a life-size, semi-naked, art-deco-inspired, carved mahogany figure.


Nude. Weegee (aka Arthur H Fellig) New York, c 1940
€1,200–1,500


One of the surprises in the Hotel Drout event is a sensitive nude study (above), shot in the studio around 1940, by Weegee (aka Arthur H Fellig) – better known for his stark black and white New York street scene photojournalism. In the 1950s Weegee experimented with distortion, producing nudes, including Nude (easel trick and plastic lens) c 1953-6, which appeared in the book Weegee’s Women, (Showplace, first published, July 1956), in which the model appears to have extremely long, giraffe-like legs, and Marilyn Monroe (plastic lens) c 1960, where a beautiful initial image of MM pursing her lips, eyes closed, as if waiting for the camera to kiss her, is altered in a succession of distortions, rendering her unrecognisable.

Rare examples of male distortion, two of Philippe Halsman’s (1906-1979) famous images of Salvador Dali (not shown), from the photographer and artist’s 1954 collaboration ‘Dali’s Mustache’, will also go under the hammer.

Lot #175, Jeanloup Sieff’s (1933-2000) thin, twisted and angular Nu blanc (1967, above) might be a template for the figure of the modern woman that has proliferated via women’s fashion magazines since the 60s, whereas Erwin Blumenfeld (1897-1969) who is represented in the sale by Purple Nude (1940, top) proves that the visual dismemberment of a female model need not invoke feelings of revulsion, but rather that by careful and sympathetic reconstruction, a sphisticated image of subtle and elegant female beauty can be created.


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All Categories | The Blog is on Holiday

Friday, September 6th, 2013

This Way, 2012, Pedro Silmon

Our Mapplethorpe Curated by Huppert blog post was published early this week

Watch out for our next post on, or around, September 27th

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Auction | 20th & 21st Century Design

Friday, June 7th, 2013

Design
Phillips
New York City, USA
Viewing: 5th–11th June, 2013
Sale: 11th June, 2013

On 25th April this year, auction house Phillips’ London Design Auction achieved the company’s highest ever result, totaling a humongous £6,109,375 / $9,286,250 / €7,147,969. Diego Giacometti’s (1902-1985) Torsade table and Marc Newson’s (b.1963) Orgone Stretch Lounge, each of which sold for£248,500 / $377,720 / €290,745, were the top two lots. Hoping to repeat that success in the forthcoming Design sale at their flagship galleries at 450 Park Avenue in New York, Phillips have gathered together some 115 interesting and diverse works by important, international 20th and 21st century designers.

While another of Newson’s Orgone series, produced around 1993 in aluminum and made by British coachbuilders specializing in the restoration of Aston Martin cars, is included, Ron Arad’s (b.1951) polished aluminium Important unique ‘Afterthought’ chair, 2007, (below) will also be sold.

Prominent amongst the Scandinavian items on sale is a large, double-spiral wall light – one of only 26 originals – from the Scala Cinema and Concert Hall, Århus Theater, circa 1955, by Danish architect, Poul Henningsen (1894-1967), or PH, as he is better known, who, synonymous with Danish lighting design, produced more than 100 lamps in his lifetime.

French designers will be strongly represented by, among many other items, a pair of doors designed by Jean Prouvé (1901-1984) for the Maisons Tropicales project, circa 1949. Prouvé’s studio produced Charlotte Perriand’s (1903-1999) architectonic Bibliotheque, circa 1954, that is also included in the sale and for which, incidentally, artist Sonia Delaunay chose the colours. French sculpture has a presence in the form of Alexander Noll’s (1890-1970) carved, abstract, elm wood piece, Untitled, circa 1970, and François-Xavier LaLanne’s (1927-2008) patinated bronze, Singe Avise (Grand), circa 2005, which, estimated at £613,560-920,160/$400,000-600,000/€523,480-785220, leads the auction.


Images from top
Poul Henningsen
Large double-spiral wall light, from the Scala Cinema and Concert Hall, Århus Theater, circa 1955
Estimate £230,014-383,325/$150,000-250,000/€114,630-327,150

Charlotte Perriand
Bibliothèque, circa 1954
Estimate £306,700-460,080/$200,000-300,000/€261,720-392,550

Alexandre Noll
Untitled, circa 1970
Estimate £184,030-276,085/$120,000-180,000/€157008-235,530

Ron Arad
Important unique ‘Afterthought’ chair, 2007
Estimate £306,700-460,080/$200,000-300,000/€261,720-392,550

Images courtesy of Phillips


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Art | Savador Dalí’s ‘FruitDalí’ Series

Friday, May 17th, 2013

Impressionist and Modern Art
Bonhams
London, UK
Sale: 18th June, 2013

Fourteen Salvador Dalí originals, exhibited just once since they were commissioned in 1969 by publisher Jean-Paul Schneider, are expected to fetch £40,000-70,000 each at Bonhams Impressionist and Modern Art sale in June.

At first glance, the paintings could be mistaken for conventional decorative prints, but for the ‘FruitDalí’ series, Dali appropriates traditional nineteenth century botanical lithographs, painting over them and adding characteristically fantastic embellishments.

Anyone who has ever drawn a pair of spectacles on a face in a newspaper or magazine photograph will recognise the spirit in which Dalí subverts the every day original subject matter, sometimes, as in Erotic grapefruit, imbuing it with an overtly sexual charge, while elsewhere he creates a metamorphorsis of vegetable and human that brings to mind Edward Lear’s (1812-29) more bizarre work, or those of Swiss children’s book illustrator, Ernst Kreidolf (1863-1956).

Salvador Dalí images from top
Prunier hâtif (Hasty Plum), 1969
Gouache over 19th century botanical lithographs

Fruits troués (Pierced Fruit), 1969
Gouache over 19th century botanical lithographs

Pamplemousse érotique (Erotic Grapefruit), 1969
Watercolour, gouache and 19th Century stipple engraving


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