Takis the magician – The Eileen and I.M. Pei collection – Bouguereau for sale in Lyon


Takis the magician (1925-2019)

The art world lost two of its most illustrious representatives this summer: Carlos CRUZ-DIEZ (1923-2019) and then Vassilakis TAKIS (1925-2019)  who died at the age of 93.

A nail floating motionless in space; a cylinder and a ball that seem to dance to the sound of a dreamlike music… works that seem to evoke a certain kind of “magic”. But there are no tricks in Takis’s art… he’s not seeking to deceive the eye. Instead of depicting triangles and cylinders in an imaginary space, he constructs a relationship between solid objects in real space, without hiding the artful magnetic processes by which he achieves the result.

Born Panayotis Vassilakis near Athens in 1925, Takis shared the fate of his homeland, decimated by the lost war against Turkey and the Second World War. Half-inventor, half-artist, passionate about the modern world, he had no intention of side-stepping the new technologies of his time like sound and light and electro-magnetism. “I cannot think of my work as entirely my work. In a sense, I’m only a transmitter, I simply bathe in energy” he said.

In 1954 he went to Paris to study with Constantin BRANCUSI (1876-1957) and – travelling frequently to London – was inspired by the signalling lights while waiting for the train in Calais station in 1955. It was the beginning of Signals, works inspired by the iron jungles of the modern industrial landscape. They were followed by Télésculptures when he discovered electro-magnetic energy and Télélumières which integrated electricity into his sculptures. Then came sound… and then movement, which associated him with many various artistic currents – Kinetic Art, Fluxus, New Realists – without being closed in by any of them. During a stay in the United States, Marcel DUCHAMP (1887-1968) dubbed him “a gay plowman of magnetic fields”.

On 3 July, London’s Tate Modern opened the largest retrospective of his work in the UK. The exhibition continues as a tribute until 27 October 2019, taking visitors on a ‘cosmic voyage’ driven by the 70 works on show. They can walk through forests of signals – including the magnificent Magnetic Field of 1969 (which has not been exhibited for more than 70 years)… roam among various flying or suspended objects activated by radar… be transported by the sound of giant Gongs and musical spheres.

Naturellement, Takis is also making reappearances in auction sales: Christie’s, Phillips and Piasa are all offering works by the artist this September. His auction record of just $143,000 – hammered at Sotheby’s in October 2012 for a Signal– could well be beaten in the coming months.

$25 million expected for the Eileen and I.M. Pei collection

The superb collection belonging to Sino-American Ieoh Ming Pei and his wife Eileen Loo is being roadshowed in Paris, Hong Kong, Los Angeles and New York before being offered for sale by Christie’s in November and December (in NY, HK and Paris).

Awarded the 1983 Pritzker Prize, the great architect who designed the famous Louvre Pyramid, the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong and the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Ieoh Ming Pei passed away on the 16th May last in New York at the age of 102, five years after his wife. The family heirs decided to entrust the prestigious sales company Christie’s with the dispersion of their collection, which was essentially the fruit of friendly encounters with many of the greatest artists of the second half of the 20th century.

The Pei’s proximity with the artists gives the collection a particular supplement of soul. Johanna Flaum, Head of Contemporary & Post-War Art Sales at Christie’s, explains that “Barnett Newman’s work comes from his wife Annalee Newman a few years after the artist’s death and some works by Jean Dubuffet were specially dedicated to the Pei couple. Their collection was an integral part of the décor of their house, which they themselves designed and which perfectly illustrates the dialogue between these great 20th century artists and the eye of their contemporary in the architectural field.”

The collection includes two works by Barnett NEWMAN (1905-1970), Untitled 4 and Untitled 5, which belong to a series of six paintings made in 1950, three of which are currently in the collections of the MoMA, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Menil Collection in Houston. Works by Jean DUBUFFET (1901-1985), ZAO Wou-Ki (1921-2013), Franz KLINE (1910-1962), ZHANG Daqian (1899-1983), Willem DE KOONING (1904-1997), Jacques LIPCHITZ (1891-1973), Isamu NOGUCHI (1904-1988)and LI Keran (1907-1989) will be auctioned in various sessions of Impressionist & Modern Art, Post-War & Contemporary Art, 20th Century Chinese Art and Chinese Paintings, mainly in New York and Hong Kong over the next few months. According to Christie’s, the collection could generate over $25 million.

Exhibitions of the Eileen and IM Pei Collection by Christie’s:

  • September 13 to 17 in Paris
  • October 3 to 8 in Hong Kong
  • October 15 to 19 in Los Angeles
  • November 1 to 12 in New York

15 works by Bouguereau for sale in Lyon

Grand Master of Academic painting, William Adolphe BOUGUEREAU (1825-1905) has always been appreciated by American collectors. The best auction results for this artist – awarded the First Grand Prize for painting (Prix de Rome) in 1850 – have all come from New York where around thirty of his works have fetched 7-digit hammer prices. However, on 13 October, the major Bouguereau fans will be converging on Lyons where the auction firm Conan has been entrusted with the sale of a rare set of 15 works which had remained in the artist’s studio before joining the collection of the current owners. According to Cécile Conan, these works have never been sold before and they all belonged to the same Lyonnais collector, a friend of Monsieur Vincens-Bouguereau, grandson of the artist, from whom he acquired them”. The provenance is ideal, and the price range is interesting.

The estimates start at 2,000 euros for a watercolor depicting one of the most beautiful mythological subjects, Leda and the swan (Léda et le cygne). The most valued work is a “reduction” of a famous work entitled Far from the Country (Loin du pays). It’s the second reduction known to date of this work. It was painted in 1867, and was therefore by his hand and not by his students, as was the case for later reductions. Bouguereau painted several reductions of his most famous paintings at the request of various dealers in order to diffuse his work in various dimensions and price ranges. This oil-on-panel, expected to fetch between €40,000 and €60,000 euros, should interest private collectors (French or American) and museums. Likewise for his superb portraits expected to sell between €10,000 and €20,000 on average.