Direct carving of Calder

On 17 July 2020, by Anne Doridou-Heim

Two female figures by Calder and Jeanne Hébuterne won unanimous acclaim at this decidedly modern sale.

Alexander Calder (1898-1976), Nude with crossed hands, 1927, sculpture directly carved in wood h. 106 cm.
Result: €450,000  
© Calder Foundation, New York/ ADAGP Paris 2020

Works carved in wood are few and far between. So it was inevitable that this Nude with Crossed Hands of 1927 would be highly popular, and it indeed garnered an impressive €520,000. This tall work was produced a year after the young American artist moved to Paris, thus during an experimental phase. At this period, wrote Joan Simon (in Alexander Calder, Les années parisiennes, 1926-1933), "his output was focused on four main themes: circus figures, portraits in wire, and sculptures in wood or stone – all marked by his genius for caricature and action." One might say this is Calder before Calder, and at any rate before the famous mobiles and stabiles that made him world-famous.

Jeanne Hébuterne (1898-1920), Selfportrait, oil on canvas, 55 x 33 cm (detail), 1.8 x 1 ft.Result: €188,500

Jeanne Hébuterne (1898-1920), Selfportrait, oil on canvas, 55 x 33 cm (detail), 1.8 x 1 ft.
Result: €188,500


Jeanne Hébuterne's self-portrait illustrates her striking artistic talent. The painting is undated, but was very probably executed in around 1918. The introspective face with its pupil-less eyes is familiar to us, because her mentor and lover, Amedeo Modigliani, painted it countless times. He succumbed to disease and died two years after this on 24 January 1920. Unable to bear his loss, she killed herself two days later. Here, a bid of €188,500 took her to third place (source: Artnet). Another face remarkable for its large eyes absorbing the world, that of a young woman painted in around 1916 by Moïse Kisling (1891-1953), was a small work (28 x 25 cm, 9.8 x 9.8 in) but clearly appealed, fetching €19,503.

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