Auctions: Gauguin's Tahitian landfall

One of the first paintings executed by Gauguin after his arrival in Tahiti in 1891, it is expected to realize in excess of $35m.

October 5, 2006 10:02
2 minute read.
gaugin 88 298

gaugin 88 298. (photo credit: )


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Paul Gauguin's L'Homme a' la ha'che, 1891 will be among the leading highlights of Christie's evening sale of Impressionist and Modern Art on November 8 in New York. One of the first paintings executed by Gauguin after his arrival in Tahiti in 1891, it is expected to realize in excess of $35m. In Noa-Noa, Gauguin's own account of his life and work in Tahiti, the artist describes the visual experience which led to the creation of this work. However, L'Homme a' la ha'che is a complex and multi-layered painting in which Gauguin combines direct observation, artistic freedom and symbolic meaning. The relatively traditional, simple color-planes and arabesques used in L'Homme are complemented with forms reminiscent of Greece and the Orient while the scene is set in a Tahitian landscape. L'Homme a' la ha'che featured in the 1893 exhibition Oeuvres r centes de Gauguin organized by the Durand-Ruel gallery. Two years later, it was acquired directly from Gauguin by the influential and eminent Parisian art dealer Ambroise Vollard. It has resided in major private collections and was featured in prominent exhibitions including at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Art Institute in Chicago and the Royal Academy in London. Born in Paris and educated in Orl ans, Paul Gauguin embarked upon a career as a broker's assistant in 1870. His guardian Gustave Arosa, a major art collector, introduced Gauguin to Camille Pissarro and Gauguin soon spent weekends and holidays painting with him and C zanne. In 1885, after an unsuccessful attempt at a business career in Copenhagen, Gauguin decided to become a full-time painter. Six years later, disillusioned with the stifling approach to art in Europe, frustrated at his lack of recognition and financially destitute, he left his wife and children and made his first trip to Tahiti. The encounter with the tropics changed his life and Gauguin remained in Tahiti and later the Marquesas Islands for most of the rest of his life. He died in the Marquesas in 1903, harassed by the local priests scandalized by his co-habitation with local girls. SOTHEBY'S WILL offer some 90 works of sculpture and painting from The Vanthournout Collection, in a series of single-owner sequences in sales of Impressionist and Modern Art (November 7), Contemporary Art (November 14-15) and Latin American Art (November 20-21). The lots, from the Vanthournouts' home and sculpture garden in the countryside near Brussels, will feature Francis Bacon's version No. 2 of Lying Figure with Hypodermic Syringe (est. $9m./$12 m.), and seminal works by Damien Hirst, Roy Lichtenstein, Tom Wesselmann, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Gerhard Richter, Carl Andre, Donald Judd, Piero Manzoni, Lynn Chadwick, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Jean Arp, among many others. The collection is estimated to bring $34.3m./$47.5m. MONTEFIORE OF Tel Aviv are offering 282 lots on October 17, with the catalog neatly divided up into a number of classifications: Contemporary Israeli Art; New Horizons Israeli Art; Israeli Art from the 50s to the 70s; Israeli Art from the 20s to the 50s; the Jewish Ecole de Paris; Works on Paper; International Art; and Russian (pre-Soviet) Art. Famous names abound but the lots are mostly unexciting. There are two photographs by the constructivist pioneer Rodchenko (around $1,500) and a lovely, unfussy still life by Daniel Enkaoua ($8,000-$12,000) and a bright Lea Nikel gestural abstraction (also $8,000-$12,000). Top lot is a Nahum Gutman oil dated 1932 depicting Arab orange pickers in a garden orchard ($140,000-$160,000). The Russian paintings are mostly of efficient, sweetish or lyrical landscapes; Mikhail Grobman is the only contemporary.

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