This podcast is a partnership with Sean Kelly Gallery to promote their Collect Wisely program which is a series of podcasts in which Sean Kelly interviews prominent international collectors on the nature of collecting and connoisseurship in the 21st century. These conversations aim to inspire a new generation of individuals committed to making a vital and meaningful investment in our common cultural future.
Fewer than two weeks ago, a new record price of $25m was set for Sanyu’s work in Hong Kong. Today, Christie’s announces that the previous record setting painting, Five Nudes, will go back on the auction block in late November looking to double its previous sale in 2011. Then famed Taiwanese collector Pierre Chen was the seller and the work made $16m at Ravenel. Now it is back on the block with a whisper number of HK250m ($33m).
Joining the strong line-up of masterpieces this season by Zao Wou-Ki, Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita and Kim Whanki, Christie’s will present for auction one of the most important works of 20th century art by Chinese-French artist Sanyu. The offering of this groundbreaking masterwork, Five Nudes, will mark a defining moment for the auction market, and will be presented as the leading highlight of the 20th Century and Contemporary Art Evening Sale.
Five Nudes is the largest painting featuring female nudes that Sanyu ever created, and features the greatest number of figures within a single composition; no other piece by Sanyu depicts as many human subjects.
The depiction of standing figures within Sanyu’s oeuvre is also exceedingly rare. According to the artist’s catalogue raisonné, there are 56 known oil paintings by Sanyu that feature the female nude, and of these, only seven depict standing figures; aside from Five Nudes, all of the other six compositions depict either a pair or single figures.
As described by art historian Chen Yanfeng in his book San Yu – Overseas Chinese Fine Arts Series, “The number of nude paintings Sanyu created after World War II are few, and in the entire world there are no more than ten such works. Five Nudes is the only large work painted around 1955; the deep red and bright yellow background illuminates the pale skin of the figures, who pose seductively as “muses”, with neither the exaggerated proportions of the figures Sanyu painted in the thirties, nor an overly figurative realism. The bold black lines create a naive, primitive appeal unique to Sanyu’s late works.”
A pioneer and trailblazer, Sanyu was among the first generation of Chinese artists to study abroad in France. After his arrival in Paris in 1921, he attended classes at the Academie de la Grande Chaumière and frequented the cafes of Montparnasse, where he mingled with other artists and forged his own artistic style.
Unlike his compatriots Xu Beihong and Lin Fengmian, Sanyu never returned to live in China, and his achievements went largely unrecognized during his lifetime until after his passing in 1966.
In 2011, Five Nudes not only set a new price record for Sanyu’s works, but it also broke the existing auction record for any oil painting by a Chinese artist. The work represents a major auction milestone in the history of the Asian art market, but more importantly, the painting itself embodies the full realization of Sanyu’s artistic talents at the very peak of his career. Christie’s is proud to be entrusted with the sale of this magnificent masterpiece of 20th century art, and look forward to presenting it to the public in Hong Kong this autumn.
David Hockney painting un-seen in public for 50 years is going to be featured in Christie’s Evening sale of Post-War and Contemporary art this November. Here’s the release:
On November 13, Christie’s will offer David Hockney’s Sur la Terrasse, 1971 ($25-45 million) as a central highlight of its Evening Sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art. A glowing sun-drenched vision rendered on a spectacular life-sized scale, Sur la Terrasse stands among David Hockney’s most poignant works. Begun in March 1971, and completed that summer, it was painted during the decline of his relationship with Peter Schlesinger: his first love and greatest muse. This turn of events became a milestone in the artist’s personal life, precipitating an intense period that resulted in heart-wrenching expression in his paintings.
The present workhas occupied a single private collection for nearly half a century and has never appeared at auction. On October 15, Sur la Terrasse will go on view at Christie’s Los Angeles, marking the first time that it will be seen in public since 1973.
Ana Maria Celis, Head of Evening Sale, Post-War and Contemporary Art, remarked: “Sur la Terrasse is an extraordinarily beautiful work, which provides a window into the conclusion of David Hockney’s relationship with his muse and longtime love, Peter Schlesinger. This work marks a momentous turning point in the artist’s personal and professional lives. The tenderness and nostalgia of this moment is unmistakable in Schlesinger’s position with his back facing the artist, as he looks into the wilds that lie beyond their hotel terrace in Marrakesh. We are very pleased to be bringing Sur la Terrasse to market and into the public eye after residing within a private collection for nearly 40 years, where it went unseen by the public for almost as long.”
Infused with longing and romance, Sur la Terrasse represents Hockney’s last depiction of Schlesinger during their time together. It is based on a series of photographs taken on the balcony of the couple’s room at the Hôtel de la Mamounia in Marrakesh, where they had spent two weeks in February. Viewed through open French windows, Schlesinger stands with his back to the artist, bathed in long shadows. Lush gardens bloom before him, as if enticing him to exotic new pastures. Positioning himself beyond the picture frame, Hockney casts himself as a voyeur, bidding a private farewell to his lover. It is a deeply moving portrait of estrangement, whose themes would be revisited in the iconic 1972 painting Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures).
Sur la Terrasse and its studies, one of which is held in the Arts Council Collection in London, featured in Jack Hazan’s 1974 documentary A Bigger Splash, which he began filming during this period.
Sotheby’s has begun to announce works for the November sales starting with this Francis Bacon Pope painting which is being de-accessioned from the Brooklyn Museum and sold to benefit the collection. The painting has a $6m low estimate but other works from this series have sold for more than that more than a decade ago. So Sotheby’s is clearly pricing this to attract bidders. Here’s Sotheby’s release on the painting:
Sotheby’s is honored to announce that we will offer Francis Bacon’s Pope on behalf of the Brooklyn Museum this November in New York. Proceeds from the sale will be used to support the museum collection.
Executed during a particularly turbulent and emotional moment of Bacon’s life, Pope offers a rare glimpse into the psychology of the artist and the influences behind the works he created during a passionate yet volatile love affair with Peter Lacy. In the mid-1950s, Lacy moved to Tangier, prompting Bacon to make frequent and extended trips to Morocco to spend time with his lover, among a group of important creative figures such as Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs.
Perceived as exotic and more tolerant of homosexuality, the Tangier lifestyle offered an escapism that was liberating for both Bacon and Lacy.
Despite this, their romance ultimately devolved into violence, which characterized a period of great psychological angst for the artist. Bacon was particularly prolific during his stints in Morocco. However, he ultimately destroyed the majority of the paintings he created in Tangier – perhaps as a way to separate himself completely from the memory of his calamitous relationship with Lacy. The present Pope is one of only six Tangier Paintings that survive, five of which Bacon gifted to his friend Nicolas Brusilowski in 1959, hoping that he may be able to reuse the canvases. Brusilowski instead preserved these works, which later made their way into notable private collections worldwide. The sixth work now resides in the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts in Brussels.
Brusilowski sold the present Pope to legendary Swiss dealer Jan Krugier, and the work was subsequently acquired from his Galerie Krugier et cie in Geneva by American collector Olga H. Knoepke in 1967. In addition to her significant holdings of art, including works by such masters as Edward Hopper, George Tooker and Lucian Freud, Knoepke was a pioneering businesswoman, who helped found a plastics factory in Brooklyn, New York. She gifted the work during her lifetime to the Brooklyn Museum in 1981, where it has resided until present.
Prior to Sotheby’s November auction, only two of the six surviving Tangier Paintings have ever appeared at auction. The most recent – another Pope – was sold at Sotheby’s Paris in 2008, for $7.3 million (estimate $3.2/4.7 million). The full group of Tangier Paintings is included in the authoritative catalogue raisonné of Francis Bacon’s work, edited by Martin Harrison and published in 2016.The present work arrives at auction this November following Sotheby’s sale of another outstanding example of Bacon’s Popes, Study for a Head, which achieved $50.4 million in our Contemporary Art Evening Auction in May 2019.
Pope will be exhibited publicly in Sotheby’s New York galleries beginning 1 November. The painting is estimated to sell for $6/8 million in Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction on 14 November 2019.
Grégoire Billault, Head of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Department in New York and former researcher for The Estate of Francis Bacon, commented: “Pope offers an exceedingly rare glimpse into Francis Bacon’s psychological state during a prolific but ultimately tortured time in his life and career. Tangier represented the artist’s first travels outside of Europe, and the promise of an open life with Peter Lacy. But their relationship proved volatile and violent, which found expression in Bacon’s anguished Popes of the period – of which precious few survive. It is a privilege for us to present a work that combines the rarity of the Tangier Paintings with a lineage distinguished by Jan Krugier, Olga H. Knoepke, and the incredible Brooklyn Museum.”
Marking a critical historical moment in Bacon’s storied oeuvre, Pope illuminates the artist’s famously tortured soul as he further developed his most iconic subject matter – the Pope – in a crucial stage of his artistic development.
The present work is distinguished by the Pope’s fully articulated face and impressive scale, which likens it to some of Bacon’s most celebrated works and iconic subject matter.
In the wake of World War II and the Holocaust, Bacon delved into the existential human condition, isolating his figures in anonymous, dark voids and trapping them in Alberto Giacometti-inspired cages. Pope bears all these hallmarks, combining the pivotal subject matter of the Pope and the coloring of the Men in Blue series with a superbly rendered face, which sees the artist pulls swaths of green and ivory across a taut jawline and hollowed eyes, one of which lands upon the viewer and affords an intimate glimpse into the sitter’s psychological state.
On Thursday Oct 24th, Di Donna Galleries will open its exhibition of paintings by Man Ray, the Surrealist best known for his photography and Surrealist objects like the couch designed to replicate Mae West’s lips. Featuring forty works gathered from museums and collections with the help of Andrew Strauss who is currently preparing a catalogue raisonné of Man Ray’s paintings and works on paper.
From New York to Paris to Hollywood, Man Ray began as a painter in 1915 and returned to painting as a focus 22 years later in 1937:
Di Donna Galleries is pleased to announce the exhibition Enigma and Desire: Man Ray Paintings, on view from October 25 to December 13, 2019. The first survey exhibition to focus on Man Ray’s paintings, the show will present a vibrant selection of paintings that reveals the radicality of Man Ray’s thought and practice throughout his career, solidifying his historical position as a prophetic painter and theorist. The exhibition features approximately forty paintings from international museums, foundations, and distinguished private collections in Europe and the United States, as well as a selection of related works on paper.
Enigma and Desire: Man Ray Paintings is organized in collaboration with Man Ray specialist Andrew Strauss of the Man Ray Expertise Committee, which is currently preparing the catalogues raisonné of the paintings and works on paper of Man Ray. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated book with an essay by Dr. Ara Merjian.