February 2, 2011

Surrealist Art – Christie’s London Evening Auction - Leading Highlights

The Art of the Surreal Evening Sale
Christie’s London 

9 February 2011

THE ART OF THE SURREAL EVENING SALE will follow the Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Auction on 9 February 2011, and will offer 32 lots with a total pre-sale value of £19,200,000 to £28,100,000 – the most valuable pre-sale estimate for any auction of Surrealist art.

Christie’s have dedicated a section of the February evening sale to the art of the surreal since 2001. The Surrealist movement was founded in France in 1924 with the publication of the Manifeste du surréalisme by André Breton, its founder and chief spokesman. He stated that the central idea was ‘to resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality into an absolute reality, a super-reality.’

Major artists associated with the Surrealist movement include René Magritte, Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, Giorgio de Chirico, Paul Delvaux and Francis Picabia, all of whom are represented in the sale.

Olivier Camu, International Director and Head of Sale: “In recent years we have seen an ever-increasing number of collectors acquiring Surrealist art, particularly due to a new appreciation from collectors of Contemporary art. This is a vibrant collecting category, and we have seen significant growth and higher price levels for many Surrealist artists in the last few years. This is the most valuable sale of Surrealist art to appear at auction, and it is also among the finest selection of works that we have ever offered in this sale.”


o L’aimant (The Magnet) by René Magritte (1898-1967) is a monumental canvas painted in 1941 (estimate: £3.5 million to £5.5 million). Offered from a private Swiss collection, it is one of the most important works by the artist to be offered at auction. Magritte refers directly to the work in two recorded letters dated November 1941 and 4 December 1941, in which he states that after ‘”The magnet” is a female nude with long, blonde hair leaning against a rock, next to a curtain. The folds of the curtain beside the woman faithfully copy the shape of her body’.

o Etude pour `Le miel est plus doux que le sang’, 1926-27, is a landmark work and one of the first Surreal paintings executed by Salvador Dalí (1904-1989) (estimate: £2 million to £3 million). This fully completed study was executed in preparation for what was one of the most important and influential masterpieces of Dalí’s oeuvre - Le miel est plus doux que le sang – a painting which is now lost. Offered at auction for the first time, the present work was acquired by the family of the present owner in the late 1950s and has since passed by descent. It has been widely exhibited around the world, most recently as part of Dalí and Film at Tate Modern in 2007.

o Las Llamas, llaman by Salvador Dalí is almost 1.5 metres in height and was painted in 1942 during the Second World War. It features a colonnade of one of his most famous and iconic images – the burning giraffe – and is a grandiose work seemingly addressing the war ahead with an idiosyncratic mixture of Surrealist humour and neurotic fear. It is expected to realise £3 million to £4 million.

o Je me faisais semblant (I was Pretending to myself) by Yves Tanguy (1900-1955) is an exceptional dreamscape painted in 1948 and measuring almost a meter in height (estimate: £2 million to £3 million). Acquired by the father of the present owner circa 1965, it is offered at auction for the first time.

Estimates do not include buyer's premium

Sale 7952
The Art of the Surreal Evening Sale
9 February 2011
Christie’s London, King Street