By Carter B. Horsley
The afternoon auction of works
on paper of Impressionist and Modern Art at Christie's May 7,
2008, includes some fine works by Juan Gris, Egon Schiele, Joan
Miró and Paul Klee.
One of the highlights is Lot
141, "La Lampe," by Juan Gris, a gouache, watercolor,
charcoal and pencil on board that measures 10 5/8 by 8 1/2 inches.
It was executed in 1916 and has an estimate of $500,000 to $700,000.
It sold for $690,600 including the buyer's premium as do all results
mentioned in this article. The catalogue
entry notes that when this work was painted, Gris did numerous
work with "dense speckling," as though, as James Thrall
Soby noted in his 1968 catalogue on the artist for an exhibition
at the Museum of Modern Art, "the painter admired what Alfred
Barr has called the 'confetti-like stippling' in certain works
by Picasso of 1913-1914."
Lot 134, "Bildnis einer
Dame mit orangefarbenem Hut," is a simple but beautiful gouache
and black Conté crayon on paper by Egon Schiele (1890-1918).
It measures 17 1/2 by 12 inches and was executed in 1910. It is
property of the Serge and Vally Sabarsky Collection. It has an
estimate of $160,000 to $200,000. It sold for $847,400.
Lot 140 is a lively and charming watercolor
and pen and black ink on paper by Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956).
It measures 8 5/8 by 13 1/4 inches and was drawn in 1954. It has
an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. It sold for $39,400.
Lot 166 is a strong, untitled
gouache, watercolor, pastel and brush and India ink on paper by
Joan Miró (1893-1983). It measures 16 1/2 by 25 1/4 inches
and was executed in 1970. It has an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000.
It sold for $409,000.
Lot 181 is an untitled gouache, watercolor
and brush and India ink on paper by Joan Miró that measures
11 3/4 by 9 3/8 inches. It was created in 1936 and has and estimate
of $250,000 to $350,000. It sold for $505,000.
The catalogue entry provides the following
"Created during a time of extreme internal
conflict for the poetic painter, this work reflects Miró's
anxiety over the Spanish Civil War. Miró repeatedly maintained
his intention to remain in Catalonia, until finally fleeing to
Paris in October 1936, three months into the beginning of the
war. Jacques Dupin describes the early 1930s as years of great
importance in the development of Miró's work: '... it was
just at this time that his art underwent changes as sudden and
far reaching as to deserve the term 'cataclysmic.' The serene
works of the years devoted to concentration on plastic concerns
and to spiritual control of figures and signs now gave way to
a new outburst of subjectivism, to an expressionistic unleashing
of instinctual forces. The volcano which for some years now had
been quiescent suddenly erupted. The clear skies suddenly clouded
over, and a violent storm proceeded to darken the peaceful artistic
climate - indeed, to shake Miró's art to its foundation.'
From the early 1930s onward, Miró went through a period
of continuous experimentation in techniques and materials: paintings
and drawings on cardboard and sandpaper, drawings in India ink
on white paper, paintings on uralita wood, tempera paintings on
masonite, oil paintings on copper and experimental collage. The
current work reflects Miró's anti-war, anti-tyranny themes.
A female figure at the center of the composition, emblematic of
Franco's minions, is about to devour a startled woman in the midst
of what appears to be an explosion, suggested by the energetic
spots of red, black and white pigment thrown to the bold red background.
This work may be Miró's response to the countless other
outrages suffered by the civilian population in Spain."
Lot 137, "Heiliger Bezirk," by Paul Klee (1879-1940)
is a very good watercolor on paper laid down by the artist on
paper. It measures 18 by 13 3/8 inches and was created in 1932.
It has an estimate of $600,000 to $800,000. It sold for $2,953,000.
The catalogue entry for this lot provides the
"Heiliger Bezirk, a complex tapestry
of harmonious colors and mysterious pathways, embodies twoof the
major influences in Paul Klee's life and work: his seminal trip
to Egypt and his lifelong appreciation of music. Playfully nicknamed
the 'Bauhaus Buddha' during his years as a revered teacher, artist
and theorist at the Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau from 1920 to
1931, Klee truly believed in the power of color and compositional
arrangement to transport one's senses to a higher realm of being.
While the obsessive grid of interweaving bands and colorful stripes
in Heiliger Bezirk may evoke the tilled landscape and light
of Egypt, the rhythmical arrangement of the horizontal lines punctuated
by breaks and vertical staccatos recals a carefully composed sheet
of music. Klee's fusing of the structural, architectural, natural,
spiritual and lyrical is a trademark that makes him one of the
most complex and fascinating artists of the early Twentieth Century."
Lot 172 is an untitled watercolor,
brush and pen and India ink on paper laid down by the artist on
board by Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944). It measures 9 1/4 by 6
7/8 inches and was created in 1930. It has an estimate of $60,000
to $80,000. It sold for$109,000.