An exceptional work by Maria-Helena Vieira da Silva (1908-1992) entitled La Ville Fermée will be the top lot of the Art de lAvant-Garde à nos jours : 1918-2021 sale organised by Bonhams
Cornette de Saint Cyr on 1st December in Paris. The sale will include a section devoted to the Second School of Paris, another to Italian Art and a final section to Abstraction-Creation.
Real or imaginary cities play a major role in Vieira da Silva's painting. Her compositions evoke networks of streets, building facades or urban landscapes in the mist, represented as labyrinths with impossible perspectives and a reduced chromatic range. This Ville Fermée has these characteristics and could be Lisbon. The artist's native city has strongly influenced Vieira da Silva's work, who left it at the age of twenty for Paris. A complex tangle of lines and planes broken into facets occupies the centre of this canvas like a mirror shattered into a thousand pieces or like a stained-glass window cloisonné with a grey blue colour (Estimate: 400,000 - 600,000). Another notable female artist is the Polish Constructivist artist Katarzyna Kobro (1898-1951) represented in the Abstraction-Creation section with Paysage marin which is a very rare plaster work from 1934-1935 estimated at 350,000-450,000. This recently found bas-relief, whose existence until now was only attested by a photograph, was long mistakenly considered to be one of her nudes. It is characterised by a balanced and rich work on the surface of the modelled plaster and by a subtle play of soft, undulating line that envelops the whole form. One gets the impression of an organism in motion, reminiscent of the process of creating life and its decay.
In the important Italian section, two works by Lucio Fontana (1899-1968) from the 1960s will be presented. A Teatrino (Small Theatre) from 1964-1966 is presented as a painting-object in which a dark lacquered wooden frame, surrounding the canvas, is cut out irregularly along its inner edge; these cut-outs, often suggesting natural forms (clouds, trees, wave crests, etc.), appear as Chinese shadows bordering a monochrome background pierced with small holes that evoke constellations in a night sky. Referring to these Teatrini as 'realistic spatialism', Fontana places us in front of them as if we were watching a pocket show, the frame functioning as a proscenium, accentuating the effect of depth in the work. Estimate: 180,000-250,000. A Concetto spaziale, natura, made in 1967 and from the Iolas gallery is estimated at 80,000-120,000.
Agostino Bonalumi (1935-2013), an artist of the Milanese Avant-gardes of the 1950s and 1960s, explores the physical possibilities of the monochrome canvas through skilful relief effects. He goes so far as to model the surface to achieve an autonomous volume. A tactile sensuality of the forces in action is expressed through its geometric, organic, and pictorial qualities. Bianco is the emergence of a colour-light that becomes form. Bianco is an important canvas from 1967, presented for the first time on the market and estimated at 150,000-200,000.
Giacomo Balsamo, International Director of the Department of Post-War and Contemporary Art, said: "Women artists are once again in the spotlight at this sale with two outstanding works by Maria-Helena da Silva and Katarzyna Kobro. Today Paris has once again become the reference city for XXth and XXIth century art market in Europe and the variety of works offered in this sale offers collectors a wide choice of post-war and contemporary European painters."
Other highlights of the sale:
·After the French record achieved by a painting by Georges Mathieu (1921-2012) at Bonhams last June, an important work from 1978 entitled Ornithogale will be offered in this sale. Exhibited at the Palais des Papes in Avignon in 1985, it has always remained in the same collection since its acquisition from the artist. Mathieu liked to give titles to his paintings, sometimes historical or sometimes esoteric: Ornithogale is the name of a perennial plant with white star-shaped flowers. Estimate: 140,000-280,000.
·Another oil on canvas by Georges Mathieu entitled Resignation ailée from 1990-1991 is estimated at 70,000-100,000.
·Finally, an original work by the American artist Keith Haring (1958-1990) is a felt-tip drawing made in 1984 on the bonnet of the car of Madame Françoise Boisrond (wife of the artist François Boisrond who was a great friend of Keith Haring). Recently exhibited at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Calais in the exhibition "Libres figurations années 80", this work is estimated at 50,000 to 70,000 euros.