Flash News: Cézanne at Gianadda – Petiet Collection – Man Ray


Cézanne at the Gianadda Foundation

Paul CÉZANNE (1839-1906) seems to be a popular figure in the current exhibitions of European museums. No fewer than three exhibitions are examining different facets of his work: his portraits are on show at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, a collection of his drawings at the Kunstmuseum in Basel and finally his landscapes at the Gianadda Foundation in Martigny. Opening on June 6th and running until November 19th, the Swiss exhibition showcases about a hundred works, eighty paintings and twenty or so watercolours and drawings, some of which have never been exhibited or have remained unseen since the beginning of the 20th century. The Foundation, which will soon celebrate its 40th anniversary, has been exploring the work of Impressionist painters for the last 20 years. After Degas, Manet, Berthe Morisot, Monet (300,000 visitors in 2011) and Renoir (400,000 visitors in 2014), its founder, Léonard Gianadda, member of the Institute, wanted to close this Impressionist series with a master stroke! Daniel Marchesseau, curator of the exhibition, chose the superb title, Le Chant de la terre (a reference to the symphony by Gustav Mahler) since the exhibition is all about revealing the inspiration of the master from Aix, his earthly relationship with volume and the energy of nature.
On the Foundation’s burgundy walls, about ten paintings, all with good provenance, have never been shown in public, while others have not been exhibited since the beginning of the last century. It is the case for Jeu de cache-cache (after Lancret) or Rochers (1867-1870). Visitors should not miss Objets en cuivre et vase de fleurs, a still life belonging to the Foundation’s collection and which have not been seen in public since 1931. Cézanne was in his twenties when he painted it, already claiming that: « Everything in nature is modelled according to the cylinder, the sphere, the cone. » The bowls, the chair, the peonies and the fruit are only forms to paint, catching the light or hidden in the shadows. Covering all his output from the 1860s to the early years of the 20th century, these works show that the evolution in his landscapes is similar to the evolution of his approach. Initially, the vibrant qualities of his painting bring him closer to Impressionism. But later, his more uneven touch gives a geometrical rhythm to his paintings that lead him towards Abstraction.

On the auction market, Cézanne’s value has remained fairly stable since the major 2015 sales of L’homme à la pipe (Étude pour un joueur de cartes) / Père Alexandre and Vue sur L’Estaque et le Château d’If, which sold for more $20m at Christie’s New York and Christie’s London respectively. The three exhibitions this summer and the rediscovery of several unseen works could boost his prices!

The Petiet Collection: the 50th sale

The Petiet collection has been supplying the auction market for more than 25 years… Since 1991, 49 sales have been devoted to this incredible collection of prints by the greatest modern artists. On November 25th and 26th, Ader-Nordmann is organising the 50th and last Petiet sale at the Opéra Comique in Paris. This « old-fashioned » sale, without phones or internet, to make this event even more dramatic, is one of the most anticipated of the autumn. Highlight of this final sale: Ader-Nordmann is offering two series of prints including the complete Suite Vollard by Pablo PICASSO (1881-1973), each edition signed by the artist.
How did Henri Marie Petiet (1894-1980) come to own several series of the precious Suite Vollard? With a good eye and extremely demanding, this print enthusiast began collecting in 1919. He became a dealer in 1925 in order to fully satisfy his desire to acquire works of art. He then worked alongside the greatest modern artists such as Raoul Dufy, Charles Dufresne, Dunoyer de Segonzac, Marie Laurencin, Maillol, Matisse, Pascin, Picasso, Lucien Pissarro, Rouault, Roussel, Signac, Vlaminck and Vuillard, to name but a few…
With his expertise and his skill for spotting talent, he quickly became successful in the United States with the help of his great friend Jean Goriany, who became his agent across the Atlantic. Thanks to him, prints became part of the major American public and private collections.

In 1939, Henri Petiet took another inspired decision by purchasing almost all the print editions of Ambroise Vollard upon his death, approximately 31,000 editions. Ambroise Vollard was the one who discovered the « new kid on the block » in 1901: Pablo Picasso, whom he succeeded in convincing to create several series of engravings, the most famous of which is known as the Suite Vollard. Some 310 complete series of the Suite Vollard (made between 1930 and 1937) were drawn from the original 100 plates, and several series were bought by Henri Petiet, one of which was acquired in 2011 by the British Museum, following suit with the National Gallery in Washington, MoMA in New York and the Picasso Museum in Paris, each owning a complete series.
Each series of 100 plates offered for sale in November is estimated at between €1.5 and €2 million, knowing that the world record for such a series was €3 million in June 2013 at Sotheby’s in London. For the last Petiet sale, the auctions promise to be lively…

€1.5 million expected for a photograph by Man Ray

Another highlight announced in November in Paris: Christie’s will sell to the highest bidder an iconic photograph of the 20th century, as part of the sale of Thomas Koerfer’s photography collection, when the world’s biggest photography collectors are in the French capital for the Paris Photo fair. The highlight of this sale is the photograph Noire et Blanche by MAN RAY (1890-1976). This iconic image is famous throughout the world since its first publication in 1926 in the Parisian version of Vogue magazine, with the title Visage de nacre et Masque d’ébène. The perfect oval face of Kiki de Montparnasse, the muse and companion of Man Ray, echoes the African mask that she holds vertically, in a composition of rare elegance. Resting delicately on a table, Kiki’s face is like that of a sleeping muse, evoking the Muse by Constantin Brancusi, created a few years earlier. The mask is believed to be a « ndoma » mask, which means « double », coming from the Baoulé tribe in the Ivory Coast. The echoing forms respond to the circulation of meaning, reflecting a new-found closeness between Africa and the West.
Depending on the keenness of bidders, the superb Noire et Blanche, estimated at between €1 and 1.5 million could well beat Man Ray’s current record. The artist’s Portrait of a Tearful Woman, a hand-coloured photograph, indeed sold for €1.9 million last May at Christie’s New York and Noire et Blanche could be Man Ray’s second record this year.
Stripped Bare: Photographs from the Thomas Koerfer Collection sale, Christie’s Paris, 9th November 2017