Pierre Lecuire: Poet and Friend of Nicolas de Staël

On 29 April 2021, by Caroline Legrand

On November 6, the first part of Pierre Lecuire's library went under the hammer. For this second sale, first editions rubbed shoulders with drawings and modern paintings.

Nicolas de Staël (1914-1955), Composition, brush and gouache on paper, c. 1954, 36 x 28.5 cm/14.1 x 11.2 in.
Estimate: €50,000/70,000

Two hundred lots were listed in the catalog for this sale. They came from the estate of Mila Gagarine, the wife of Pierre Lecuire (1922-2013). She was a poet, and also collaborated with the critic Christian Zervos, author of the catalogue raisonné of Picasso's works. The sale includes several leading names in modern art who were friends with Pierre Lecuire. This poet and publisher, a graduate of the Ecole Normale Supérieure and a keen lover of music and painting, met Nicolas de Staël in 1945. It was the start of a friendship, an exchange of ideas and a mutual admiration constantly nourished by a correspondence that only ended with the artist's death in 1955. He developed other noteworthy collaborations that gave form and color to his poems, including with the painters Serge Charchoune, André Lanskoy and Geneviève Asse.

The first hour was dedicated to illustrated first editions of his works (Abracadabra, Daedalus, Cortège, Le Livre des livres, etc.) and poems by Mila Gagarine, as well as letters from Nicolas de Staël. Estimates ranged from €100 to nearly €10,000. All eyes then turned to the paintings. These included works by the Spanish artist Fermin Aguayo (1926-1977), who moved to France in 1952; compositions by Geneviève Asse and Serge Charchoune (€500 to €10,000); engravings by André Lanskoy, Véra Pagava, Olivier Debré and Sergio Castro; a carved wooden xylography matrix (a gift from Picasso to Mila Gagarine) (€3,000/5,000), and a watercolor by Pierre Tal Coat (€700/900).

One section was devoted to Nicolas de Staël, including one of three copies of a tapestry, Composition en rouge (Composition in Red), 1952, woven in Aubusson and bought by Lecuire directly from the artist (€15,000/20,000); a Composition sur toile (Composition on Canvas) from 1943 (€50,000/70,000), and another (see photo) executed in around 1954, which was used for the lithograph on the cover of the collection Maximes written by this poet and architect of books.

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