Flash News! Kupka at the Grand Palais – Fautrier at the Museum of Modern Art


Kupka retrospective at the Grand Palais

In spring 2018, the Grand Palais hosts two major exhibitions: “Kupka. Pionnier de l’Abstraction” and “Artistes & Robots.” A programme entirely dedicated to modernity and the future!

The Grand Palais Frantisek KUPKA (1871-1957) retrospective (from 21 March to 30 July 2018) is the first in France since the 1989 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris. The exhibition will then be shown at the Palais Wallenstein by the National Gallery of Prague from September 2018 and then in Helsinki in 2019. The Prague exhibition is unique as in addition to the correspondence of the artist acquired in 2012, the National Gallery boasts a body of work that is essential to the understanding of the artist’s career. In 1946, Czechoslovakia bought some forty works by Kupka, including the famous Amorpha: Fugue in two colours created in 1912.

The artist then decided to give the Gallery a large collection of works, which the museum kept under lock and key and rarely lent, depending on international relations and the personality of the directors in charge of the collection. The Paris show is therefore a unique event, covering the artist’s entire career, from his beginnings marked by Symbolism to his late works created in the 1950s. Combining a chronological and thematic layout, this exhibition brings together some 300 works in eight spaces that allow the public to discover František Kupka’s world, his existential quest, his interest in philosophy, Ancient and Oriental cultures as well as science, while providing a unique insight into less known periods such as his ‘Machinist’ phase in the late 20s.

Since 2000, the artist’s rating has steadily increased, as his role in the invention of Abstraction, alongside Kandinsky, Mondrian and Malevitch, was rediscovered. After a record year in 2016, including two sales of over $2m for the CI Series, (Series C I. (Plans Miniscules)) 1935, at Adolf Loos and The Flight sold at Stockholm Auktionsverk, the artist’s market remains stable, evidence that his role as a precursor is now acknowledged by all.

Fautrier retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art

After a Figurative period and a few years spent in the Alps far from the Parisian creative scene, Jean FAUTRIER (1898-1964) returned to Paris in 1940. He then befriended André Malraux, Francis Ponge, Paul Eluard, Georges Bataille and particularly Jean Paulhan, who became a great supporter. During the war years, he began his series Otages (1943-1945), using a glue paint mixing inks and pigments. In this new form of representation, contorted bodies seemed to return to material form. Fautrier stood out with this new style in which the apparent softness that emanates from the colour and light of the canvas contrasts with the actual cruelty of the world. In 1960, he shared the Painting Grand Prix at the Venice Biennale with Hans Hartung. Four years later, the Museum of Modern Art in Paris gave him his first retrospective, shortly before his death.

Today, the founder of Informalism is celebrated through a major retrospective bringing together over 200 works. The exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris (6 January to 20 May 2018) continues and adds to the Jean Fautrier retrospective, which took place last summer at the Winterthur Kunstmuseum in Switzerland, including several works from the Museum of Modern Art in Paris (the Museum has an important Fautrier collection of more than 60 works), as well as from several French museums and private collections.

How will this new exhibition affect his prices at auction? Although he is among the most highly rated artists of the Paris School, his record sale took place seven years ago and his market needs a boost. London has not sold anything major of his recently, despite real a demand in the British capital. London indeed holds his absolute record, $4m in 2011, for a large canvas entitled Corps d’otage on the edge of Abstraction and Figuration, in the creamy pink so typical of his Otages series (Sotheby’s London, 10 February 2011). The work was estimated at around one million dollars, but sold for four times that figure. New paintings of this size would be welcome in a dormant market as they would allow Fautrier’s rating to benefit from the price increase other artists of the Paris School now enjoy. Hans HARTUNG’s previous record was indeed beaten by the sale for more than $3.1m of his large abstract painting T1956-13 (on 6 December 2017 at Sotheby’s in Paris) and Pierre Soulages also attained $6.8m in June 2017 (Sotheby’s Paris). If London doesn’t, Paris may have the capacity of boosting the rating of this major artist.