The Landscape of a Mind is an important private collection that maps the surreal vision of a collector who decorated his London home with paintings, works on paper, photographs and furniture that explored the realms of the sensual, the surreal and the erotic.
‘As a world traveller — and always a seeker and appreciator of marvels — [the collector] was fascinated by the previously unknown domains invented and pictorially described by this contingent of artists [and poets] called Surrealists,’ explains art dealer, collector and curator Timothy Baum.
Olivier Camu, Christie’s Deputy Chairman, Impressionist and Modern Art, describes this ‘most eclectic of collections’ as drawing us into the mind of the collector. It features pieces across many different categories and value levels that were acquired, says the specialist, ‘without bias but always with great research, wit and an eye for quality.’
The collection of more than 100 works will be presented across a series of sales, beginning with an important group of Surrealist and Dadaist works in the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on 18 June, and followed by a dedicated sale of design, photography, Indian miniatures and Post-War and Contemporary Art two days later. To view all the works on offer, see below.
Highlights from the collection
The interior of this collector’s home featured copper ceilings and decorative sliding panels inscribed with quotations from Surrealist literature. These reflected his desire to spark dialogue between objects and artworks by some of the biggest names connected to Surrealist art, including Dalí, Picasso, Magritte, de Chirico, Tanguy and Duchamp.
Leading the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale is an important group of 13 Surrealist and Dadaist paintings, including L’Extinction des espèces II (above) by French painter Yves Tanguy (1900-1955). ‘It is,’ says Camu, ‘the best painting by Tanguy I have seen at auction since the world record-setting Les derniers jours, which was sold at Christie’s in 2005 for $7.5 million [£4 million].’
This work, which remained in the Pierre Matisse family and Foundation until recently, is unusual both in its large size and the brightness of the colour palette. It is also among the first in which Tanguy has entirely removed the horizon line, a radical compositional device which, together with the brighter colours, was a significant development in his art at this time.
Further highlights from the Evening Sale include Salvador Dalí’s Figure aux tiroirs (above) — a pen and ink drawing dating to 1937 that illustrates the artist’s fascination with the disjointed, compartmentalised state of the modern psyche — and Dalí’s instantly recognisable, bright red Mae West Lips Sofa from 1938, the result of a creative collaboration between the artist and Edward James, the legendary patron and collector of Surrealism.
Er und sein Milieu, a rare 1919 watercolour by Hannah Höch, explores the place of humanity in the age of machinery and was intended, as stated by the artist, to showcase ‘a new and sometimes terrifying dream world’.
Two Surrealist landscapes by René Magritte also come to auction — Le parc du vautour (1926), below, which was included in the artist’s first solo exhibition in 1927, and Le palais de rideaux, the second of three closely related works painted in 1928 — as well as a 1928 Giorgio de Chirico gouache on paper, depicting two melancholic, statue-like figures seated together in contemplation.
The dedicated collection sale on 20 June offers an exceptional assemblage of Surrealist photography, led by the work of Man Ray. Additional highlights include Andy Warhol’s Brillo Soap Pads Box (1964), a work by Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto and several works formerly in the collection of Edward James.
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In September, the collector’s wine will be offered in a single-owner sale in London, while Mark Tansey’s End of History Victory Party (1993), the painting that sparked the collection, will be offered in the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York this November.
A dedicated interior will be created for the collection in the St James’s galleries at King Street from 13 to 20 June