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Connected by Surrealism

Published on , by Céline Piettre
Auction on 22 March 2019 - 14:30 (CET) - Salle 4 - Hôtel Drouot - 75009

Two great names in French publishing together in one sale: René Bertelé (1908-1973), known primarily for publishing Jacques Prévert at Point du jour before it was bought by Gallimard, and Bernard Loliée, whose bookshop on rue de Seine attracted all the capital’s bibliophiles, including President François Mitterrand, until...

Max Ernst (1891-1948), "L’Invention ou l’oiseau de l’infini", 1921, collage and gouache,... Connected by Surrealism
Max Ernst (1891-1948), "L’Invention ou l’oiseau de l’infini", 1921, collage and gouache, 10.5 x 7.8 cm.
Estimate: €80,000/100,000

Two great names in French publishing together in one sale: René Bertelé (1908-1973), known primarily for publishing Jacques Prévert at Point du jour before it was bought by Gallimard, and Bernard Loliée, whose bookshop on rue de Seine attracted all the capital’s bibliophiles, including President François Mitterrand, until 2004. Those two names are well known at auctions: Bertelé’s collection was almost totally dispersed at Drouot in 1997. The few pieces his sister, Geneviève, had not agreed to sell at the time are now in the Binoche et Giquello catalogue. Loliée’s immense collection has already gone under the hammer six times since 2011. His collection of books by Henri Michaux, some of which Bertelé published, explaining their presence here, will be up for auction. Some are original editions (€1,000 to €40,000) featuring gouache or watercolour illustrations and bindings by Colette and Jean-Paul Miguet, Georges Leroux, Henri Mercher and Marot-Rodde. They include Michaux’s travel notebooks ("Ecuador", 1929), his earliest publications combining poetic texts and gouaches, such as "Peintures" from 1939, when he had "just started painting", and accounts of psychotropic experiences ("Misérable Miracle. La Mescaline"). Published by Editions du Rocher in 1956, "Misérable Miracle" has 48 plates accompanying the text with "mescaline drawings". The works on paper, rubbings, watercolours and acrylics (€5,000 to €50,000 each) include five gouaches on black backgrounds, extremely rare in Michaux’s output, made between 1937 and 1939. Some lots are more famous than others, such as "Clown" (€40,000/50,000), from Bertelé’s collection, illustrating the artist’s eponymous poem. This drawing was exhibited at the Centre Pompidou before travelling to New York, where it was shown at the Guggenheim in 1978. L’Invention ou l’oiseau de l’infini", a 1921 collage and gouache by Max Ernst (see photo) that Bertelé also owned, is equally famous.
It was seen the last time in 1993 at MOMA during the "Max Ernst: Dada and the Dawn of Surrealism" exhibition. The same spirit unites these pieces, although Michaux, despite liking Ernst’s work, was never seduced by the sirens of surrealism. A spirit speakingly illustrated by the two Prévert collages on offer here, "Paradis terrestre" and "Il est né le divin marquis".

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