‘Memory of a surreal journey: Property from an important San Francisco Bay area collection’.
Christie’s will offer ‘Memory of a Surreal Journey: Property from an Important San Francisco Bay Area’, a collection of 25 works dedicated to showcasing the magical interpretations of the world by leading artists of the surrealist movement across Europe, Latin America, and America.
The collection was built over more than two decades around a formative trip to Mexico, the country described by André Breton as “the Surrealist place, par excellence”, with a particular lens on female artists; Remedios Varo, Leonora Carrington, Dorothea Tanning, Leonor Fini, and Stella Snead. Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo will be offered in Christie’s The Art of the Surreal sale platform for the first time, as will work by Gordon Onslow Ford and Wolfgang Paalen.
Further highlights include seminal paintings by Óscar Domínguez, André Masson, René Magritte, and Yves Tanguy. The collectors focused their attention on those perceived to be more traditional Surrealists, such as René Magritte, André Masson, and Yves Tanguy, only after acquiring paintings by the Surrealists in exile. Magritte, Masson, and Tanguy all became a later interest with detailed research leading the collectors’ quest to find the finest examples by these artists.
Olivier Camu, Deputy Chairman, Impressionist and Modern Art, Christie’s: “It is an honour for Christie’s to have been entrusted with the sale of this extraordinary collection of 25 surrealist works of art. Apart from the quality of each and every work, which is the result of over 20 years of collecting and careful searching for certain artists and for the ‘right’ work, what makes this collection unique is its sheer breadth of vision.
Indeed, this wonderful collecting couple has searched across frontiers or ‘beyond borders’ and put together a group of works which includes not only European, but also North and Latin American Surrealism. Another marvellous aspect of this collection is that it includes works by some of the most influential Surrealist women artists, including Varo, Carrington, Tanning, and Fini. Many international exhibitions have recently focused on new interpretations of surrealism and have rightly highlighted the pioneering females of the movement.
These include ‘Surrealism Beyond Borders’ at the Metropolitan Museum, New York and Tate Modern, London; ‘Surrealism and Magic: Enchanted Modernity’ at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice and of course, the title of the Venice Biennale in 2022, which directly referenced Leonora Carrington’s children’s book ‘The Milk of Dreams’. It is within this art historical zeitgeist that this distinguished collection sits. It is likely to draw global interest, and highlights our position in the market as the only house to offer a dedicated Surreal sale in London, now in its 22nd year.”
Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo’s deep friendship saw both artists considering painting as an alchemical practice, merging Mexico’s ritual traditions and history with a host of divinatory arts. Among the last portraits that Varo painted, Retrato del Doctor Ignacio Chávez (1957, estimate: £2,500,000-3,500,000) embodies her abiding interests in mysticism and metaphysics as well as in science and medicine, here encapsulated in Dr. Chávez, the distinguished Mexican cardiologist and founding director of the Instituto Nacional de Cardiología in Mexico City.
A rare portrait within Carrington’s oeuvre, Quería ser pájaro (1960, £900,00-1,400,000) captures the young actor Enrique Álvarez Félix, the only son of the legendary screen star María Félix, in a dramatic moment, willing himself to freedom.
René Magritte’s Souvenir de voyage of 1958 (estimate: £2,500,000-3,500,000) was the final work to enter the collection – originally commissioned by the Belgian-American lawyer and poet Harry Torczyner. Machine à coudre électro-sexuelle (1934-35, estimate: £2,000,000-3,000,000) is one of Óscar Domínguez’s most iconic masterpieces, dating from the beginning of his association with André Breton and the Parisian Surrealists. Merveilles des mers (estimate: £900,000-1,500,000) painted in 1936 is a wonderful example of Yves Tanguy’s landscapes of the mind.
‘Memory of a Surreal Journey: Property from an Important San Francisco Bay Area Collection’ will be presented across The Art of the Surreal Evening Sale on 28 February and the Impressionist and Modern Art Day and Works on Paper Sale on 3 March 2023.