On 3 February 2015, Sotheby’s London will present masterworks of Surrealist Art in a dedicated Evening sale which will stand alongside the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale.
The market for Surrealist Art has continued to grow from strength to strength in recent years, with new benchmarks set in the field at Sotheby’s each season, including the highest price at auction for any work by Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, René Magritte and Francis Picabia.
James Mackie, Sotheby’s Senior Director, Impressionist & Modern Art, said: “This year’s dedicated Surrealist sale offers an extremely rich and broad range of works by the key names of the Surrealist art movement. The outstanding works, many of which are fresh to the market having remained in private collections for decades, have each been selected to represent the artists at their best.”
oil on canvas 80 by 60cm, 31 1/2 by 23 5/8in. Painted in 1952 Estimate: £4 - 6 million
Important highlights of the forthcoming February sale include René Magritte’s L’explication, which comes to the market from a private collection for the first time in 35 years, Yves Tanguy’s extremely fine painting Deux fois du noir, and the finest group of Picabia's celebrated ‘Transparence’ paintings ever to come to the market.
Painted in 1952, Magritte’s L’explication is among his most compelling in engagements with the Surrealist interrogation and transformation of the object. The foreground of the composition is dominated by a striking amalgamation of bottle and carrot that sits on a solid wooden table surrounded by examples of its constituent parts, through which Magritte explores the idea that the combination of two related objects could create a poetic dynamic just as intense as the combination of two completely incongruous objects.
Deux fois du noir
Oil on canvas
53.5 by 74cm, 21 by 291⁄8in.
ainted in 1941
Estimate: £2 - 3 million
Deux fois du noir exemplifies the refined and personal language with which Tanguy transformed the boundaries of Modernist painting. Tanguy was invited by André Breton to become a member of the Surrealist group in 1925 and two years laterhe was a highly accomplished painter in complete command of a new and personal Surrealist language. Tanguy's pictorial forms are unique in the canon of Surrealist art, amorphous yet somehow recognisable to the viewer. With a great sense of mystery, Tanguy presents in Deux fois du noir a brilliant hyper-reality that embodies the aims of the Surrealist movement.
Le Train Bleu or La Rue Aux Tramways
Oil on board 122 by 244cm; 48 by 96in.
Painted in November 1946 Est. £2.5 - 3.5 million
Painted in November 1946, Paul Delvaux’s monumental work Le train bleu, alternatively known as La rue aux tramways, is one of the most important and remarkable paintings from the peak of his career. Although the artist was acquainted with the leading figures of the Surrealist group, including André Breton and Paul Eluard, his form of Surrealism remained unique. Capturing the modernity of the urban landscape juxtaposed with the sensuality of the nude form, this monumental work is an exceptional example of the paintings he was producing at this critical time in his oeuvre.
Toro y Torero (Composition au Taureau)
oil on canvas 106.8 by 77.5cm, 42 by 30 1/2in. Painted circa 1934-35 Estimate: £1.3-2 million
Toro y Torero is one of Óscar Domínguez’s most important compositions from the peak of the artist’s career, and works of such calibre rarely come to the market. Domínguez’s works from this period shares its magical, dreamlike aesthetic with other Surrealist painters such as Ernst and Dalí, but as with many of his Spanish compatriots, the subject of his production retained a strong nationalistic streak.
Toro y Torero is an especially important work in the artist’s œuvre because of its references to Spanish culture, religion and corrida (central to many Iberian artists’ depiction of conflict). The first owner
of Toro y Torero was the leader of the Surrealist group André Breton who possessed an outstanding collection of important works by avant-garde artists of the post-war period. Much of Breton’s collection has found its way into museums across the world, including the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The present work remained in in his family until 2003, when his collection was sold at auction in Paris.
Oil, brush and ink and black crayon on panel 120 by 94.5cm; 471⁄4 by 371⁄4in.
Painted circa 1929
Est. £800,000 – 1.2 million
Painted circa 1929, Lunaris is an exceptional example of Picabia's celebrated ‘Transparence’ paintings that Picabia executed in the late 1920s and early 1930s. This series of works, which was a marked departure from the artist’s Dadist experiments of the previous decades, derived its name from the multiple layers of overlapping imagery that Picabia employed and is characterised by figurative images underpinned by a Classical beauty.
The first owner of the present work was the influential French art dealer Léonce Rosenberg (1879-1947) who greatly admired Picabia’s work and commissioned several paintings for his home.
As the Museum of Modern Art, New York announced a major Picabia retrospective, scheduled for November 2016, the sale will present two other ‘Transparence’ paintings, including
Lunis, also from circa 1929, (est. £800,000- 1,200,000)
and Espagnole et Agneau de l'Apocalypse, from circa 1927-1928 (est. £160,000-200,000).
Les belles réalités
Gouache on paper 34.5 by 26cm.; 131⁄2 by 101⁄4in Executed in 1962 Est. £700,000-1,000,000
Executed in 1962, Les belles réalités will now be offered at auction for the very first time. A witty and compelling example of Magritte’s preoccupation with the unexpected juxtaposition of objects, the painting features the most iconic element to appear in his work - that of the apple. Both the apple and table are closely associated with the tradition of still life painting, which make them the ideal subjects for a Surrealist work. The present work is remarkable for its bright tones and intricate brushwork which reveals the brilliant talent of the painter and the importance of gouache in his oeuvre.
Cinq personnages surréalistes: femmes à tête de fleurs, femme à tiroirs (évocation du jugement de paris)
Gouache, brush and ink on pink paper
48.9 by 63.8cm; 191⁄4 by 251⁄8in.
Executed in 1937
Est. £400,000 - 600,000
Executed in 1937 as a present for the renowned fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, this exquisite drawing exemplifies the blend of hyperrealism and surreal metamorphosis that was a hallmark of Dalí’s mature style. The work also brilliantly combines some of the artist’s most iconic transformations of the female figure. Dalí and Schiaparelli met in the 1930s and subsequently collaborated on a number of projects. The fashion designer owned a number of works by the artist, including both the present work – for which she apparently specified the use of pink paper – and the earlier oil Printemps nécrophilique.