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Christie's to offer masterpieces from the Volkart Foundation
Joan Miró, Peinture poème (Musique, Seine, Michel, Bataille et Moi) 1927. Estimate US$8,000,000-12,000,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2021.

NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s announced the sale of two important works by Joan Miró and Alexej von Jawlensky from the renowned Volkart Foundation on 11 November in the 20th Century Evening Sale in New York. Founded in Winterthur on 1 February 1951 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Gebrüder Volkart trading company, the Volkart Foundation has sponsored cultural, social and environmental projects throughout the world for 70 years, working for an open, solidary and ecologically sustainable society. The proceeds from the sale of these two masterpieces will increase the Foundation’s funding, so that more institutions and initiatives can be supported in their important work.

Marc Reinhart, president of the Volkart Foundation commented: “The foundation will be using the proceeds from the auction of the two paintings to increase sustainably the Foundation's funds, so that we can even more powerfully tackle the challenges facing society - now and in the future.”

Dirk Boll, President Christie’s EMEA continued: “It is a great honor to offer these two fabulous works of art from the Volkart Foundation. Both the Miró and the Jawlensky have not been seen on the market for 60 years and will surely attract global interest. Today, the Foundation has deeply integrated such important themes as sustainability, integration and social cohesion in their program and the funds gained through the auction will continue this fundamental engagement.”

Painted in 1913, Renaissancekopf dates from a key period of Jawlensky’s career, one which he later described as “the turning point” in his art where he “found a personal form and palette”. Focusing almost exclusively on close-up studies of the human face, Jawlensky’s paintings from this period are characterized by bold gestural brushstrokes, juxtapositions of vibrant complementary colors, and stark black outlines, as he sought to reach new dimensions of emotional and spiritual depth in his art. Renaissancekopf is an enigmatic portrait of the dancer Alexander Sacharoff, an important figure in the avant-garde circles of Munich during the pre-War era and one of Jawlensky’s closest friends. Sacharoff frequently sat for Jawlensky over the course of their friendship, becoming one of the artist’s favorite models (estimate $2,000,000-3,000,000).

One of the most powerful elements of Renaissancekopf lies in the intensity of the artist’s palette, as blocks of bold color clash dramatically with one another in a luminous constellation of vivid hues. Using richly worked passages of turquoise green and deep purple to describe the planes of Sacharoff’s face, Jawlensky intensifies our focus on his sitter and infuses the composition with an intense energy.

A rare “painting-poem” belonging to the artist’s famed, breakthrough series of “dream” paintings, Peinture poème (Musique, Seine, Michel, Bataille et Moi) (estimate US$8,000,000-12,000,000 and illustrated first page) immerses the viewer in Miró’s magical world of signs, and, more rarely, into his life at this time. Miró recalled the specific experiences that he memorialized in the painting—nights strolling through Paris with his friends, the surrealist poets, Michel Leiris and Georges Bataille.

Frequently exhibited throughout the twentieth century, this work also has a particularly distinguished provenance, having been previously owned by the great Belgian surrealist collector, René Gaffé, as well as by the surrealist artist, writer, and husband of Lee Miller, Sir Roland Penrose.

Against an umber-colored ground five multi-hued spirals explode like fireworks, countered by a large glowing red orb that hangs in the midst of this expansive abstract plane. These dotted spiral forms could be read as the ripples and reflections of the Seine as the artist threw coins in. Vividly atmospheric and rich with multi-layered meanings and sensory evocations, with Peinture poème Miró took his radical dream paintings a step forward, conjuring a reminiscence as a plethora of signs upon the canvas; intangible and hazy just as memory itself.

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