History in the Making

Christie’s stages a historic landmark event in the world of art and is sure to turn the heads of art admirers with this collection of paintings and draw in hundreds of millions of dollars.

By Lola Thelin
Photography by Christie’s Images Ltd. 2006


The most valuable and prestigious art is expected to rock the art world in two of Christie’s upcoming art auctions. The Impressionist and Modern Art Sale (Nov. 8, Rockefeller Center) will feature the world’s most iconic and legendary paintings in the field. Pablo Picasso, Paul Gauguin, Gustav Klimt and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner will be the primary focus of the show.

Gauguin’s L’homme à la Hâche, 1891, is a leading highlight of Christie’s evening sale. L’homme à la Hâche is a complex and multi-layered painting where Gauguin combines direct observation, artistic freedom and symbolic meaning. The forms – reminiscent of Greece and the Orient – and the Tahitian landscape background reflect Gauguin’s desire of spiritual wholeness.

Another painting that will turn heads is one of Picasso’s Blue Period paintings. Angel Fernández de Soto, an oil portrait of Picasso’s friend, painted in 1903, is composed of thick loose brushwork, giving bold definition and form. After Picasso met Angel de Soto in 1899 at an artists’ gathering in Barcelona, de Soto appeared in several of Picasso’s drawings and paintings. This portrait has de Soto giving a crooked grin while sitting with a glass of absinthe. A deep sense of isolation, social alienation and inner agitation is illustrated through de Soto’s intense gaze, as well as Picasso’s forceful brushstrokes and the cloud of smoke hovering above him. Plant de Tomates, painted by Picasso in 1944, will also be up for auction.

Christie’s will also offer Kirchner’s Strassenszene, Berlin, (1913). Strassenszene, Berlin, which belongs to a series of paintings of the erotic life of Berlin, depicts a city street scene. The painting is an icon of German expressionism and of the troubled generation’s ambiguous relationship with modernity. Last in the Impressionist and Modern Art sale will be four paintings by Klimt, an Austrian painter. Adele Bloch Bauer II, Houses in Unterach on Lake Atter, Apple Tree I and Birch Forest are expected to bring in $93 million.

The top seller for the second auction Post-War and Contemporary Art Sale (Nov. 15, Rockefeller Center) will be Andy Warhol’s Mao. During 1971, Warhol’s interest in China’s totalitarian leader, Mao Tse-Tung grew, not surprisingly as United States was in midst of renewing its relationship with China. Tse-Tung became one of the most recognizable faces in the world, and Warhol decided to capitalize on the leader’s perverse appeal. “Since fashion is art now and Chinese is in the fashion, I could make a lot of money,” Warhol said. Mao is one of 10 portraits of Tse-Tung and considered the best of the bunch. Warhol used a broad, loose brushworks and rainbow colors that ignite the surface of the portrait.

By offering some of the world’s most legendary paintings, these auctions will help stage a historic landmark event in the world of art; some like the sale of Picasso’s Angel Fernández de Soto will event benefit a variety of charities.