Tanja's Culture


Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Day Sale

Our recommendations for Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Day Sale.

By Chadwick Ciocci

Christies’ and Sotheby’s upcoming auctions are broken up in to evening and day sales. The evening sales offer more expensive, blue-chip pieces whereas the day sales – even though they include significant artists like Picasso, Miro and Dali – offer pieces at more manageable price points.

Sotheby’s upcoming Impressionist & Modern Art day sale on May 10, 2016 in New York has several such options.

Maurice de Vlaminck


$50,000 – 70,000

Maurice de Vlaminck was a principal of the Fauvist movement and while he lacks the name recognition of Henri Matisse or artists who lived and worked in his time such as Picasso, he is nonetheless a talented - and in our opinion - underrated artist.

Paysage, as its name implies, depicts a landscape, but unlike so many other landscapes from the period, de Vlaminck’s work is dark and vibrant, still but alive. The wild, white-capped sea  (1830’s) contrasts the dark, still sky, with just a hint of sunlight and clear blue sky in the distance.

It is Fauvist in all the best ways.

We suggest acquiring this piece within the estimate, and certainly not above its high.

Fernand Leger

Le Signal dans le paysage

$500,000 – 700,000

Leger is one of the few artists that bridge the gap between cubism and pop art. His mechanical motifs and use of color, particularly later in his career, can be seen in the direct inspiration of works by Roy Lichtenstein.

This particular work was painted in the last year of Leger’s life. It lacks much of the form that is present in his other works, which is partly the reason it interests us.

We suggest acquiring this piece near the mid point of the estimate, but as a long-term play, acquisition over the high end of the estimate is justifiable.

Andre Masson

Combat d’oiseux

$18,000 – 25,000

Masson is by no means as well known as Miro or Pollack, but sometimes in the absence of public fame one finds professional influence. Such is the case with Andre Masson, who in his career worked in and with cubism, surrealism, abstract expressionism, Joan Miro, Jackson Pollack and so many others.

This particular piece could easily be mistaken for Femme et Oiseau by Joan Miro, which is precisely why we suggest this piece. Not the confusion, to be exact, but the idea of recognizing and showing their connection and influence upon each other is the mark of a sophisticated collector. In addition to the obvious similarities with Miro’s work we can also see in this piece more subtle influences from Dali, especially in Masson’s use of space and distance as well as these sort of surreal orbs both in the center as well as sides of the work.

We suggest acquiring this piece near the low end of the estimate.

Henry Moore

Maquette for Standing Figure

$120,000 – 180,000

Moore’s sculptures straddle cubism, surrealism and abstraction. It is the versatility of his hand that has kept him in the public eye for so long, and in this piece we can see that versatility. We can imagine Dali’s giraffes, Picasso at the height of his cubist period but most importantly, the hand of Moore himself.

At just over 10 inches tall this is not a terribly imposing work in the way one likes to be imposed on by Moore, but the benefit of that is its versatility. You can move this piece from room to room and always interact with it in new ways.

We suggest acquiring this piece up to and well above the high estimate.

Pablo Picasso

Nature morte aux fruits et pot

$150,000 – 250,000

Our attraction to this piece by Picasso can be summarized thus: it is completely unrecognizable as a piece by Picasso. It lacks any distinctive or identifying motifs and even bears the signature of “P. Ruiz Picasso”.

The artist was only 14 in 1895 and this is one of his first known works, painted more as a dark, classic still life, in stark contrast to the colors and style he would use later in his life. But the piece does not just contrast to Picasso’s better-known style; it also acts as harbinger of a master, and the best known and most prolific artist of the past 100 years. We can only imagine what people who saw this piece in 1895 would have thought. Did they know what was to come?

Sotheby’s has significantly underestimated Nature morte aux fruits et pot. Picasso’s iconic style can be bought any day. Works from his childhood cannot.

We suggest acquiring this piece at any cost. 

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