In the Asian art market, the appetite for masterpieces of Western modern and contemporary art has increased in Hong Kong in recent years, fetching record prices in auction sales. This trend has spread north into mainland China.
On March 1st, Christie’s launches the 20/21 Shanghai to London Sales series in Shanghai – connecting the great art centers of the East and the West. The Shanghai portion of the event will take place in Christie’s new art space at the iconic Bund One – the first live auction in Shanghai since the pandemic. Western masters such as Basquiat and Picasso will be on display during the sale.
The main lot is Basquiat’s 1982 painting, Il Duce (The Leader), estimated at 80–120 million RMB (about US$12.6–19 million). It is the first time that the work of America’s most expensive artist will be shown on the mainland.
Christie’s new art space at Bund One, Shanghai
lot 8 ￨ Jean-Michel Basquiat ￨ Il Duce (The Leader), acrylic, oil pencil on canvas
Created in 1982
60″ x 60″.
- Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich (acquired directly from the artist)
- Private collection, United States
- Acquired from above by the current owner in 2017
Estimate: CNY 80,000,000 – 120,000,000
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Warriors (1982) | Sold: HK$323.6 million (about US$41.7 million) dollars | Christie’s Hong Kong, March 2021
Among famous Western artists, Basquiat is the most expensive in Asia. warrior was sold at Christie’s Hong Kong last year for HK$323.6 million (about US$41.7 million) and is still the most expensive Western artwork in Asia.
Basquiat’s influence in Asia did not stop there. In November 2021, Basquiat’s largest solo exhibition in mainland China, shinetook place in Shanghai.
Less than half a year later, this international auction house presents a new offer – Basquiat’s work can be auctioned in mainland China for the first time. the leader and warrior Both were created in 1982 – at the height of Basquiat’s creative development.
Photo: ©️ William Coupon
The present painting was inspired by Basquiat’s two trips to Italy in 1981 and 1982. During these years he organized his first solo exhibition in Modena at the invitation of the Italian art dealer Emilio Mazzoli. During his time in Italy he immersed himself in Renaissance art – with old masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael and Botticelli – and developed a keen interest in it.
One of Basquiat’s most important motifs was the crown. He was the first to use gold paint to depict his iconic three-pointed crown, and Il Duce is among a select group of works in the artist’s oeuvre for which he used it more explicitly – such as glucose (1982) and Golden Griot (1984).
The face of a powerful and authoritarian figure emerges from the radiant surface of this large canvas. Rendered with black oil pencil, his bold facial features stand in stark contrast to the golden background. His square chin matches his square forehead, topped by a crew cut of close-cropped hair and thick-rimmed glasses enclosing a pair of fiery eyes.
Pools of multiple layers of red, blue and white pigments are used to create a piercing gaze. This layering technique is repeated on other areas of the face – his smile is made even more dramatic by the combination of yellow and orange pigments Basquiat uses, along with the bold flash of orange with black flecks used to indicate a weathered and unshaven cheek .
Basquiats glucose (1982) is part of a series of paintings in which the American artist used more gold paint
Basquiats Golden Griot (1984) is part of a series of paintings in which the American artist used more gold paint
lot 10 ￨ Pablo Picasso ￨ Dormeuse (Marie-Therese Walter), oil and charcoal on canvas
Created in 1937
- Estate of the artist and from there by inheritance to the current owner
Estimate: CNY 26,000,000 – 33,000,000
Pablo Picasso’s dormeuse (Marie-Therese Walter) is estimated at 26 to 33 million RMB. This painting was inspired by Picasso’s lover and muse Marie-Therese.
When the two met in 1927, Marie-Therese was 17 and the Spanish artist was 45. Picasso’s portraits of her as the protagonist are vividly rendered.
Picasso painted several masterpieces inspired by Marie-Therese – such as Femme assise pres d’une fenetre (Marie-Therese) auctioned at Christie’s New York in 2021 for US$103.4 million and the present painting.
Pablo Picasso’s Femme assise pres d’une fenetre (Marie-Therese, 1937) | Sold: $103.4 million | Christie’s New York, May 2021
Marie-Therese can be seen as Picassos golden muse
This 1937 painting marks the 10th year of Picasso’s first encounter with Marie-Therese. With her head on her hand and her closed eyes rendered with a single curved line, Picasso depicted his beloved oblivious – enjoying the purity and innocence of his model in a dream. Her head is like a crescent moon and shines brightly. Picasso captures the immaculate purity of his beloved in the painting and the whole scene is like a dream.
This work remained in Picasso’s private collection. After the death of the Spanish champion in 1973, it was inherited by his granddaughter Marina. It will be auctioned for the first time.
Other highlight lots:
lot 12 ￨ Kees van Dongen ￨ La femme au collier (The Lady with a Necklace), oil on canvas
Created in 1908
100.3 x 81.3 cm
- Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, around 1908
- Gallery Druet, Paris
- Helena Rubinstein, New York, Paris and London; her estate, Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, April 20, 1966, lot 43
- Private collection London, acquired from there at the above auction
- Prince & Princess Mario Ruspoli, Paris, until October 1967
- Lefevre Fine Art Ltd., London
- Purchased there by the current owner in 2008
Estimate: CNY 19,500,000 – 32,000,000
lot 6 ￨ Marc Chagall ￨ Le bouquet de lilas (The Bouquet of Lilacs), oil on canvas
Created in 1968
81 x 100.3 cm
- Galerie Maeght, Paris
- Private collection Japan, acquired from there in the early 1970s
- Acquired there by the current owner after 2008
Estimate: CNY 13,000,000 – 20,000,000
lot 13 ￨ Zao Wou-ki ￨ Le Soir a l’Hotel du Palais (Palace Hotel by Night), oil on canvas
Created in 2004
- Private collection Europe (acquired directly from the artist)
Estimate: CNY 11,000,000 – 18,000,000
lot 7 ￨ Amoako Boafo ￨ Orange shirt, oil on canvas
Created in 2019
64″ x 60″.
- Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, Chicago
- private collection
- Purchased above from previous owner
- Christie’s New York, 10 July 2020, lot 102
- Purchased by the current owner at the above sale
Estimate: CNY 3,000,000 – 5,000,000
Auction house: Christie’s
Auction: 20th and 21st Century: Shanghai Evening Sale
Date of sale: March 1, 2022
Auction: 20th and 21st Century: London Evening Sale
Date of sale: March 1, 2022
Selling: The Art of the Surreal Night Selling
Date of sale: March 1, 2022