Two sculptures, one by Marino Marini of a man on a horse, the other a bird by François-Xavier Lalanne, were the highlights of this decorative arts auction.
Marino Marini (1901-1988), Cavallo e cavaliere, preparatory sculpture in plaster and metal, c. 1940-1945, unique piece, signed "Marini" on the base, 40.5 x 40.5 x 12 cm (approx. 15.9 x 15.9 x 4.7 in).
The Gazette’s article about the genesis of The Angel of the City by Marino Marini (1901-1980) in issue 42 left no stone unturned. This plaster made c. 1940-1945, a unique piece called Cavallo e Cavaliere, is a smaller version of the sculpture Peggy Guggenheim liked so much that she had it installed on the terrace of her foundation in Venice facing the Grand Canal. The rider is endowed with a prominent anatomical detail and, during the casting, the extravagant American asked that this phallus be removable. So, whenever a procession of nuns passed by on the water, she would hide the contentious object away. With plaster, one gets the sense that the work is still in gestation and the explosive final version has not yet been achieved. Marini gave the rider a humanity that later took on an almost Christ-like dimension. The great fragility of plasters puts off many collectors, which often keeps them from achieving the results they deserve. That is unfortunate because these original pieces reveal the artist’s thought process. This one, however, sold for a substantial €140,800.
The pigeon in bronze and copper with a patina finish designed by François-Xavier Lalanne (1927-2008) to contain a white opaline glass lamp was no retiring bird, and soared up to €46,800. Dating from 1991, this model is 21 cm. high and 26 cm. long/8.26 and 10.2 in. The same year, Lalanne designed a lamp based on a wading bird, available in versions 62 and 29 cm. high/24.4 and 11.4 in. Both anthropomorphic lamps are in bronze, sheet copper and opaline glass. Artcurial produced 900 copies of the pigeon, and 1,500 of the wader. Despite being so numerous, their prices have steadily risen since the 2009 Bergé-Saint Laurent auction and the 2010 retrospective at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.