Works by Clave and Campigli, School of Paris Masters, Go to Auction

November 7, 2014

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

Nature Morte Pastèque Blanche (1955), Antoni Clave, Modern Art & Design Auction, March 1, 2015

Los Angeles Modern Auctions is pleased to offer a group of works from the last wave of artists affiliated with the School of Paris in the March 1, 2015 Modern Art & Design Auction, including two remarkable works from Antoni Clavé and Massimo Campigli. In 1904, a 23-year old Pablo Picasso moved to Paris, leading the influx of foreign artists immigrating to the cosmopolitan and avant-garde City of Lights, including Italian painter Amedeo Modigliani, Russian artist Marc Chagall, and Tokyo-born Léonard-Tsuguharu Foujita, among many, many others. This was roughly the beginning of a period in history and a loose affiliation of artists that would come to be known as the School of Paris, taking a cue from French art critic André Warnod who stated confidently in 1925: “L’Ecole de Paris exists.” Between the years of 1900 to 1940, artists were drawn to Paris from all over the world, and the diversity of identities and ideas encouraged an invigorating environment of expression and experimentation. The label indicated immediate geography as well as a renewed nationalism rooted in an artistic, creative rebirth—as Chagall poignantly proclaimed in 1925: “I was born in Vitebsk, but I was also born in Paris.”

On offer is a brilliant work from School of Paris artist Antoni Clavé (1913-2005), who exiled to Paris from Barcelona in 1939, met Picasso in 1944, and worked as a designer for the opera and the ballet from 1946-1954. The painting on offer was created shortly after Clavé left set design to concentrate solely on painting. Entitled Nature Morte Pastèque Blanche (1955), which translates to “White Watermelon Still Life,” the work is a prime example of the multiple influences and innovative mix of aesthetics and styles that the School of Paris fostered. The imagery has a flatness that can be compared to the works of Pierre Bonnard and Édouard Vuillard.  The detached forms and distorted perspective show the impact of the cubist still-lifes of George Braque and Picasso. The white watermelon radiates against the backdrop of deep scarlet, while a mysterious shape evoking a fish skeleton is a variation on the traditional skull in memento mori still-lifes.

Los Angeles Modern Auctions (LAMA)

Untitled (Figures) (1960), Massimo Campigli, Modern Art & Design Auction, March 1, 2015

Picasso was also a major influence upon Berlin-born Italian artist Massimo Campigli, who lived in Paris from 1919-1933. In addition, Campigli was immensely impacted by his viewing of ancient Etruscan frescoes while visiting Rome in 1928. Untitled (Figures) (1960) is an exceptional example of the artist’s mature style and his use of flat, totemic figures, a diluted color palette (in mimicry of faded frescoes), and the female form as subject.

The School of Paris does not so much describe a distinct style as it does an outstanding era in history, wherein Paris became the epicenter of artistic dialogue and creative fomentation. Styles and mediums were varied, spanning Fauvisim, Futurism, Cubism, Expressionism, and Symbolism across categories of painting and sculpture, but what tied these artists together was the continual, free-flowing exchange and application of ideas.

Chilvers, Ian  and John Glaves-Smith. “Campigli, Massimo” A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art. Oxford University Press Inc. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 3 Nov. 2014
Riding, Alan. “Arts Abroad: A Close-Up of Artists Who Made Paris Sizzle.” The New York Times, 11 Jan. 2001. Web. 3 Nov. 2014.
Voorhies, James. “School of Paris.” Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2004. Web. 3 Nov. 2014.

Lot Information:

Massimo Campigli
Untitled (Figures)
Oil on canvas
Signed and dated “Campigli 60″ lower right; retains Florence Art Gallery label verso
Together with copy of receipt from Galleria Fiorentina d’Arte
Canvas: 23″ x 32″; Frame: 32.25″ x 42.5”
Provenance: Galleria Fiorentina d’Arte, Florence, Italy; Private Collection, Los Angeles, California (acquired directly from the above); Thence by Descent
Estimate: $40,000 – 60,000

Antoni Clave
Nature Morte Pastèque Blanche
Oil on canvas
Signed lower right; retains two Arthur Lenars & Co., Paris labels verso; retains Galerie Beyeler Basel label verso
Canvas: 44″ x 57″: Frame: 47″ x 59″
Exhibited: “Antoni Clave,” Galerie Beyeler, Basel, April-May 1957
Literature: Antoni Clave. Exhibition catalogue. Basel: Galerie Beyeler, 1957. #9.
Estimate: $30,000 – 50,000

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