A tête-à-tête between Brancusi and Matisse

On 04 December 2020, by Anne Doridou-Heim

The two 20th-century giants expressed themselves in the works presented at this auction: one through the unexpected medium of photography, the other in drawings.

Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957), Mlle Pogany (Bronze pour), 1922, period silver print, autograph manuscript title, annotated "1850" and "No. 29", 23.7 x 18 cm (9.2 x 7.3 in).
Result: €57,420

In the autumn of 2019, Bozar, the Palais des Beaux-arts in Brussels devoted a major retrospective to Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957). It featured the Romanian-born artist’s most iconic sculptures, of course, but also an overlooked aspect of his work: photographs. The show stressed their importance to him and the key role they played in his artistic development. Eleven prints that were probably published in the first issue of This Quarter magazine in May 1925 appeared at this auction—quite an event. All of them far surpassed their estimates, achieving a total result of €287,740. The 1922 silver print of Mlle Pogany (Bronze pour) (Miss Pogany (Bronze for) alone fetched €57,420, that of The Sorceress (30 x 24 cm/ approx. 11.1 x 9.2 in) €48,944, the emblematic Sleeping Muse (18 x 23.8 cm/approx. 7.3 x 9.4 in) €44,800 and Self-portrait in His Studio with His Dog Polaire (23.8 x 18 cm/approx. 9.3 x 7.3 in), c. 1921-1925, €21,726. - Henri Matisse (1869-1954) spent the Second World War in the South of France. It was during this period that he started making his gouache cut-outs and his "Jazz" series. In 1942 the poet Louis Aragon called him the artistic symbol of "a show of resistance to the barbaric invader". The same year, Matisse drew a portrait of Monette Vincent (40 x 30.5 cm/approx. 15.3 x 12.1 in) at sight, 41 x 31 cm/approx. 16.9 x 12.1 in the drawing) in charcoal and stump. It sold for €117,392.

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