Biarritz was the venue for a brief lesson in modern art, with three 20th century masters headed by an Orientalist vision from the painter of Marrakesh.
Jacques Majorelle (1886-1962), Marrakech: les marchandes de tapis (Marrakesh: the carpet sellers), pastel, 84.5 x 103 cm/33.3 x 40.6 in.
This scene at the El Khemis souk in Marrakesh, in pastel, fetched €177,744, tripling its high estimate. Here Jacques Majorelle reveals an art on the verge of abstraction, with carpet dealers selling their wares as a pretext. The silhouettes of these women (perhaps from the nearby Atlas Mountains) holding up their woolen weavings accentuate the verticality of a restrained composition.
The next painting with its energetic style was a sharp contrast and garnered €38,640. This was La Belle (The Beautiful, 180 x 235 cm/70.9 x 92.5 in) by the French painter Paul Rebeyrolle (1926-2005): a mixed media work with the label of the Maeght Gallery in Zurich on the back. It was not unfamiliar, as it was reproduced in the art magazine Derrière le miroir (Behind the Mirror) in March 1973. Meanwhile, Victor Vasarely focused on reasoned, purely geometric abstraction, as with Kanta Majus, a 1970 original one-off prototype consisting of a collage of plastic elements ("Basf-Luran") in bright colors fixed to a plywood panel (105 x 100 cm/41.3 x 39.4 in). The principles of optical art developed by Vasarely are perfectly embodied in this piece with its vibrant gradations, which went for €21,896.