Christie’s Amsterdam and 70th anniversary of Cobra

Across the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening and Day sales a selection of works document the dynamism of Cobra and its unique position within European history.

Christie’s Amsterdam and 70th anniversary of Cobra

Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Evening and Day Sales in Amsterdam will take place on 23 and 24 April, the second series of auctions to be conducted in the new venue, De Westergasfabriek. To celebrate the 70th anniversary of Cobra, a focused group of works by artists who shaped the movement, will be led by Pierre Alechinsky’s large-scale Soutien de famille (Provider) (1960, estimate: €280,000-400,000), which has been held in the same private collection of Cobra works since 1961. This is complemented by Karel Appel’s Composition (1954, estimate: €100,000-150,000). Reflecting the exuberant, collective, experimental mode of art making typical of Cobra, further works by Asger Jorn, Carl-Henning Pedersen and Enrico Baj, amongst others, complete the selection.

In addition, works from two leading Dutch collections will be offered: The Collection of Martin Visser, including works on paper by Jean Michel-Basquiat and Georg Baselitz, and from the Triton. Collection Foundation, a painting by Robert Zandvliet. Further highlights include works by leading German artists such as A.R. Penck, Günther Förg and Sigmar Polke. The exhibition to accompany the Post-War and Contemporary Art auctions will take place at De Westergasfabriek from 19 to 23 April, open daily from 10am – 5pm, except for 23 April when it will be open from 10am to 1pm.

Across the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening and Day sales a selection of works document the dynamism of Cobra and its unique position within European history. The group is led by Pierre Alechinsky’s Soutien de famille (Provider) (illustrated, page one), a rare early painting created the same year that the artist represented Belgium at the 30th Venice Biennale (1960). Held in the same private collection since 1961, the work has a venerable multi-continent museum exhibition history. The vast canvas stretches two metres in height, and is a vivid array of abstracted biomorphic forms. Faces and bodies, humans and animals, both monstrous and playful, are executed in blue, white, green and turquoise against a background of pale blue. Painted in 1954, and held in the same collection since 1958, Karel Appel’s Composition (illustrated, left) quivers with raw painterly vitality. Thick, molten terrains of impasto, rendered in bright primary colours are set against a white and grey background. Created three years after the disbandment of Cobra, the work combines the visceral vitality of the group’s early years with the liberated, expressionistic language developed in its wake.

THE COLLECTION OF MARTIN VISSER – The celebrated furniture designer and curator Martin Visser amassed a collection of art that
spanned the 20th Century. Acquired by Visser shortly after its execution Untitled (1983, estimate: €300,000-500,000) is an electrifying work on paper by Jean- Michel Basquiat. It exemplifies Basquiat’s practice at the height of his career, bringing togheter vivid motifs, bold mark-making and
fragmented text into a cacophony of colour, symbol and mercurial thought. Georg Baselitz’s, drawning Vier Streifen, Die Kuh (Four Stripes, The
Cow) (1966, estimate: €100,000-150,000) offers a graphic rendition of a
cow composed over four conjoined sheets of paper. Each strip has been rendered in alternating strokes of ink and pencil, creating a
dynamic and fragmentary image. Vier Streifen, Die Kuh was included in the artist’s solo exhibition in 1970 at the Wide White Space Gallery, Antwerp, where Visser obtained it. The sale also includes Heerenlux (2003, estimate: €40,000-60,000) by Daan van Golden, who represented the Netherlands at the at the 1999 Venice Biennale, and Belgica Blue IV (1986, estimate: €40,000-60,000) by Carl Andre.

THE TRITON COLLECTION FOUNDATION – Representing a second significant Dutch collection, a large- scale painting, Untitled (2006, estimate: €15,000-20,000) (illustrated, left) by Robert Zandvliet from The Triton Collection Foundation will be offered. This follows on from the success of works from the collection which were sold during the 20th Century season in London during February.

GERMAN ARTISTS – Sigmar Polke’s Untitled (Comics) (2002, estimate: €280,000- 350,000) is a large-scale work on paper that demonstrates the artist’s enduring fascination with the volatile nature of reality and perception. Executed in 2002 – the year that Polke was awarded Japan’s prestigious Praemium Imperiale – the work takes its place within his encyclopedic appropriation of readymade imagery. General a, b, c by A. R. Penck (1998, estimate: €100,000-150,000) (illustrated, right) exemplifies the complex world of symbols and systems that have fuelled his work since the development of his iconic Standart style in the late 1960s. In this painting, an animated stick figure is rendered in scarlet red against a mottled blue background, awash with an enigmatic lexicon of cyphers.