Pivotal periods in art history reflected in Heffel's 2016 spring live auction collection

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Pivotal periods in art history reflected in Heffel's 2016 spring live auction collection
E.J. Hughes, The Post Office at Courtenay, BC.

TORONTO.- Heffel Fine Art Auction House, enduring leader and mainstay in Canada’s thriving art market, celebrates a diverse new collection of masterpieces set to hit the auction block this spring. The two-session live auction will take place on May 25 at the Vancouver Convention Centre and is expected to achieve between $9 million and $12 million (all prices are in Canadian dollars and according to conservative estimates).

With the help of its dedicated collectors, Heffel has amassed a historically significant assortment of rare-to-the-market works of art, many of which have spent lifetimes in private hands. The auction features 144 lots by more than 60 globally renowned artists. Heffel is the first and only auction house in Canada to split works into two separate sessions: Post-War & Contemporary Art and Fine Canadian Art. This year’s sale is highlighted by works that reflect many of the artists’ most inspiring epochs, uncovering stories of their personal lives that signify their places in history.

“The last year was exhilarating for both Heffel and Canadian art as a whole, as we hit some major milestones, shattered sales records and saw collector interest surge across the globe,” said David Heffel, President of Heffel Fine Art Auction House. “With this inspiring spring offering, we look forward to building on the momentum of last year, and fueling the success of Canada’s art market through continued international attention.”

Riding an uninterrupted wave of global praise, Lawren Harris remains at the forefront of the art market. Heffel offers this season three major works by the Group of Seven founder, including the historically important canvas Laurentian Landscape, a painting considered to be a foundation work for the establishment of the Group of Seven, which is expected to achieve between $1.2 million and $1.6 million.

Harris is the subject of an exhibition co-curated by actor and art enthusiast Steve Martin, currently on view at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston before making its final stop at Toronto’s Art Gallery of Ontario, proudly supported by Heffel. The hugely successful initial showing of The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles was just one of the pivotal moments for the artist last year. Three of his works broke the million-dollar mark at Heffel’s fall auction in Toronto, led by the record-breaking $4.6-million sale of Mountain and Glacier.

Indicative of the rich history present in the spring auction is the noteworthy Post-War & Contemporary Art cover lot by Canada’s first official war artist of World War II, E.J. Hughes. The Post Office at Courtenay, BC (est. $600,000 – 800,000) is a post-war masterpiece from a period in Hughes’s career when he produced very few works. It was not uncommon for Hughes to take more than a year to complete paintings during this period, and the spring sale offers buyers a rare opportunity to own one of the few pieces in private hands today.

Heffel’s Fine Canadian Art highlights:

• Lawren Harris’s Laurentian Landscape is a unique work from a pivotal point in history, when seeds were being planted to form what would soon after be known as the Group of Seven. The impressionistic painting was acquired by the current owner in 1966 for a mere $8,400 and has never before been offered at auction (est. $1,200,000 – 1,600,000).

• Two highly collectible Lawren Harris oil on boards from the Group of Seven period are also featured. Both stunning works, Coldwell, Lake Superior, Lake Superior Sketch XXII (est. $450,000 – 550,000) and Mount Sampson, Maligne Lake (est. $250,000 – 300,000) explore the measureless Canadian landscapes that Harris encountered during his painting expeditions.

• Emily Carr’s deep-rooted belief in the spirituality of the woods is present in the five works on offer, including the dynamic masterwork canvas Shoreline (est. $600,000 – 800,000). Also featured is the extraordinary watercolour Gitwangak, displaying the strong First Nations motifs typical of Carr’s most notable works (est. $200,000 – 300,000).

• The spring auction features noteworthy works by all original members of the Group of Seven, including A.Y. Jackson’s quintessential snow scene oil on canvas Farm at St. Tite des Caps (est. $300,000 – 500,000).

• Heffel is honoured to be entrusted with the sale of La vieille église de Sherbrooke Est par temps de neige by Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté, consigned by the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church in Sherbrooke. Proceeds from the sale will benefit the fundraising campaign for the restoration and renovation of the church (est. $100,000 – 150,000).

Heffel’s Post-War & Contemporary Art highlights:

• Leading the session by estimate is The Post Office at Courtenay, BC, an exceptional work painted by E.J. Hughes upon his honourable discharge as an official war artist. Using supplies remaining from his service—unusual for a young artist at the time—he painted this impressive work over three years, according to his inscriptions found on the back of the painting (est. $600,000 – 800,000).

• Like many works by realist painter Alex Colville, the two paintings on offer in this season’s live auction reflect the artist’s personal life. Racer, Colville’s first round work from his prolific mid-’50s period, is a portrait of a race car driver inspired by a photograph of his father-in-law (est. $500,000 – 600,000). Swimming Dog and Canoe, peaceful and balanced yet perfectly rendered, shows the artist along with his wife and their dog on a typical canoeing outing (est. $300,000 – 500,000).

• A leader in contemporary Indian art, Sayed Haider Raza is featured with Costapoglia II, a highly coloured yet dreamlike canvas that is both mysterious and evocative. Raza is a truly global artist, and his work has been seen and admired in many corners of the globe (est. $200,000 – 300,000).

• Jean Paul Riopelle’s 1955 Composition is an impressive selection from his most celebrated decade. The dynamic canvas was exhibited at the National Gallery of Canada and circulated to 10 American museums by the Smithsonian Institution (est. $400,000 – 600,000).

• West Coast art enthusiasts will be pleased with the representation of work from the region, including paintings by Gordon Smith, Jack Shadbolt, Takao Tanabe and W.P. Weston, among others.

• Many of Quebec’s most important post-war and contemporary artists are featured prominently. Guido Molinari stands out with two works on offer, including the bold Sans titre (est. $100,000 – 150,000), alongside three works by Jean Paul Lemieux, led by the beautiful night sky canvas, L’énigme (est. $300,000 – 400,000).

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