French collection in Christie’s Modern Masters sale

Christie’s will present 20th Century Modern Masters from a Private French Collection in the 20th Century Art Evening Sale and The Art of the Surreal Evening Sale, to be held on March 23.

The collection is comprised of eight works by Alexander Calder, Jean Dubuffet, Max Ernst, Jean Fautrier, Fernand Léger and Joan Miró.

Left: Alexander Calder, Submarine Christmas Tree (1947, estimate: £4,000,000-6,000,000). Right: Joan Miró, Le piège (1924, estimate: £3,000,000-5,000,000)
Left: Alexander Calder, Submarine Christmas Tree (1947, estimate: £4,000,000-6,000,000). Right: Joan Miró, Le piège (1924, estimate: £3,000,000-5,000,000)

The exceptional group offers an insightful view into the crucial dialogues that connected avant-garde artists working in Europe and America throughout the 20th Century, highlighting the friendships, artistic innovations and the exchange of ideas that shaped the century, both before and after the Second World War.

Dating from 1913, Léger’s Deux femmes couchées illustrates his bold, graphic style of cubism, estimated at £1,200,000-1,800,000, which resonates with the formal structures of Dubuffet’s post-war Paris ‘Circus’ and ‘Hourloupe’ styles, both hybridised in Paysage du Pas-de-Calais III (1963), estimated at £2,500,000-3,500,000.

Radical mixed-media impasto is employed to very different ends in Dubuffet’s Le Vase de Barbe (1959), estimated at £2,000,000-3,000,000; Max Ernst’s Aux 100,000 colombes (1925), estimated at £1,200,000-1,800,000; and Fautrier’s Pièges (1946) estimated at £1,000,000-1,500,000.

Finally, close links can be seen between Calder’s Submarine Christmas Tree (1947) estimated at £4,000,000-6,000,000 and the intuitive, whimsical visual language of surrealists such as Miró.

Anika Guntrum, International Director, 20th – 21st-Century, Christie’s, said: “20th Century Modern Masters from a Private French Collection reflects the pioneering spirit of the collection with works that, seen together, create a carefully constructed dialogue between movements, artists and continents. This spirit is echoed in the eight paintings presented as a major highlight of Christie’s 20th-century season in London. The scope of the collection provides insight into those artists – Calder, Dubuffet, Ernst, Fautrier, Léger and Miró – whose vision and innovation defined the 20th century and whose legacy and influence is seen in the artists practising today. We are thrilled to offer these works in the Spring season of 20th-century art.”

Keith Gill and Tessa Lord, Co-Heads of Sale, 20th Century Art Evening Sale, Christie’s, said: “Together with three major works from an important Swiss Surrealist collection, we are thrilled to present another exquisite collection, from France on this occasion, to the London market in 2021. We are confident that this opening season will see international collectors centre around this significant moment in the art world calendar. We look forward to engaging established and new audiences alike in our livestreamed auctions and events, providing opportunities to explore artworks that defined the trajectory of artistic practise throughout the 20th century.”

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