A seminal sale in the world of interiors is looming. In a few hours, in Paris, important objets that were the result of a fruitful and exciting collaboration between two giants in the worlds of art and fashion of the 20th C will be, A-Gent of Style predicts, snapped by fervent collectors. Albeit small as it contains only twenty-one pieces, the auction under the aegis of Christie’s has already gathered great momentum and exposure online and in the press over the last few weeks – The Financial Times’ How To Spend It gave it yesterday its cover and main feature. And it is bound to heighten the price points.
The great couturier Hubert de Givenchy will be parting with his unique and unparalleled collection of museum-quality Giacomettis. ‘Even if my heart tightens at the idea of parting with these objects, that’s it,’ the designer explains. ‘My decision has been taken.’ The pieces in the collection are all personal and tell a specific story about the relationship and friendship that span decades between the two men. ‘I was already an admirer of his amazing creations, which he made with a lot of imagination and dexterity,’ explains M. de Givenchy, approaching 90, of how this special relationship began. The man who created iconic garments for some of Hollywood’s biggest names — from Audrey Hepburn (the little black dress in Breakfast at Tiffany’s is his) to Grace Kelly and Ingrid Bergman — was initially ‘seduced’ by the shape of Giacometti’s octagonal tables. Three of these very important examples (estimate £700,000-£1m) are offered in the sale which also includes four bronze stools and a major white patina lantern that hung in the main staircase of Givenchy’s chateau, which preceded the one created for the Musée Picasso in 1984 (still beautifully hanging with other white patinated lanterns in the main staircase). Giacometti, then not as popular as his sculptor brother Alberto Giacometti, was commissioned by the likes of Henri Samuel or Bunny Mellon and made his first pieces for Givenchy’s house at Jouy at the end of 1960 (he was introduced to the Swiss artist by art dealer Aimé Maeght, he of the famous Foundation in St-Paul-de-Vence), and from the early 1970s worked on bespoke pieces for the designer’s elegant and well-storied Renaissance Château de Jonchet in the Loire Valley, a couple of hours away from Paris.
‘Every time I asked for something [Giacometti] would write the idea down in his notebook, like a schoolboy,’ recalls de Givenchy. ‘Once he started working on a piece, he would ask me to come and take a look at the maquette, and it was always much more beautiful than the thing I’d had in mind, not only because of the imagination [it revealed] but also because of the incredible subtlety and refinement.’
Animals (dogs, deer, birds) are a recurring theme in the pieces Giacometti designed for de Givenchy, who describes them as ‘touching and endearing’. ‘The animal “talks”, his face is made with intelligence, infused with life. Each time [he made one], it was like a story,’ he adds. ‘Beautiful stories.’ ‘With this sale, I want to pay a further tribute to him, an additional recognition which he does not need, but which shows how important he was to me.’
Once again, it is time to see a private collection that encompasses decades of passion and a special relationship but also that captures a special era and aesthetics be disseminated into various, anonymous homes. A-Gent of Style was fortunate to see several Giacometti pieces over the years at antiques dealers, fairs or viewing exhibitions, and has alway been fascinated by his work instantly recognisable by its delicate, fragile-looking yet hand-wrought finished pieces and charmed by the elegance, craftmanship and humanity of his works especially the white patina lights, the birds and of course the doggies.
It won’t be too long before we see these iconic pieces suddenly emerge in another magazine feature or a sale, taken out of a new context and given a new chapter of their lives. And even if the gracious and restrained Manor du Jonchet is strongly associated with its Giacomettis, how exciting to ponder and fantasise over what it will look like without them and what they will be replaced with (if at all).
Art defies time, boundaries and slipping into oblivion. In the great word of Jeanne Moreau (this one is for you, G.E): “My life is very exciting now. Nostalgia for what? It’s like climbing a staircase. I’m on the top of the staircase, I look behind and see the steps. That’s where I was. We’re here right now. Tomorrow, we’ll be someplace else. So why nostalgia? ”
Below some images taken from Instagram of the viewing exhibition at Christie’s Paris curated by Monsieur de Givenchy himself.
Another day, another, auction house, another sale…and third time lucky.
At a time when the world and its geopolitics seem to have gone awry and make little sense, it feels right for A-gent of Style to welcome and celebrate Vincent Darré, the quirky, fanciful polymath as the parisian storyteller of fashion and design empties his now fabled maison de curiosités for a sale with Piasa in Paris today.
This eccentric creative force who worked for fashion power houses such as Yves Saint Laurent, Montana, Karl Lagerfeld, Moschino and Fendi before going solo to set up his Maison Darré to make his own quirky and whimsical furniture and designs (and many collaborations with artists such as Pierre Le-Tan and textile master Pierre Frey) is inviting us to see for the last time most of the content of his “laboratory of dreams” which have been re-staged as room sets and vignettes at Piasa auction house prior to the sale this evening appropriately titled ‘Vincent Darré, extravagance dadaist’.
Expect to find anatomical curios, anthropomorphic and skeleton pieces, antiques from the flea markets and many of his prototypes and creations influenced by surrealism, cubism and dadaism with odds to Cocteau, Braque, Dali or de Chirico in unconventional juxtapositions similar to his apartment, all filled with memories but little nostalgia. The “anarchist of good taste” is ready to let go of the elements of his phantasmagorical universe to create another one. Judging by his latest idiosyncratic but fantabulous project Hotel Montana in Saint-Germain-des-Près, it is difficult to gauge whether this enfant terrible will move from audacious maximalism to restrained minimalism, and what his reinvention and reincarnation will be. Time will tell. And A-gent of Style simply cannot wait.
– Vincent Darré’s apartment –
– ‘Vincent Darré, extravagance dadaist’ exhibition at Piasa, Paris –
Vincent Darré with Vogue’s Suzy Menkes who wrote the preface to the catalogue
You can view the full catalogue here
– A-Gent of Style‘s selection of the sale –
– Imagery by Piasa, Aurélien Mole, and from Piasa’s and Vincent Darré’s Instagram accounts –
Amongst the Art deco sales of the last half century, the 1972 sale at Christie’s of couturier Jacques Doucet’s possessions is to this date of the most fabled. The Yves Saint Laurent – Pierre Bergé sale of 2009 at Christie’s was equally historic as it reached 373,935,500 euros with Eileen Gray’s ‘Fauteuil aux Dragons’ reaching an incredible 21,905,000 euros. Then in March 2014 the Felix Marcilhac sale came along courtesy of Sotheby’s and sent A-Gent of Style in a state of stratospheric elation with its ravishing museum-quality masterpieces (and an unforgettable cover feature from The World of Interiors).
And a week ago, without much fanfare, Henri Chwast came into A-Gent of Style’s life. Unbeknownst to him, Henri Chwast was the creator of the first “concept” fashion shop in Paris, Mérédith, which he opened with his wife Anne-Marie on the Rue de Passy in 1961, offering pieces of a select group of international designers. But Chwast was also a collecting pioneer who, in the early 1970s, rediscovered and championed many artworks of the 1920s, from artists and designers such as Eileen Gray and Jean Dunand. A secret collector, known only to several big Parisian dealers, he died almost 25 years ago, leaving intact his compact collection consisting of about sixty masterpieces created by a small number of first-rate artists including Clément Rousseau, Pierre Chareau and Bernard Boutet de Monel.
Today, Sotheby’s Paris will be unveiling this tastemaker’s remarkable collection of hidden treasures kept away for thirty years, now appearing on the market for the first time and remaining decidedly modern. The works, carefully chosen for their exceptional quality, make up a perfectly consistent ensemble of rare and precious group of 46 lots, expected to reach between 3-5 million euros. Their rarity, prestigious provenance and the dialogue created between them establish it as one of those truly legendary Art Deco collections. These pieces have been through the hands of the movement’s greatest advocates: the legendary Art Deco Galerie du Luxembourg, Félix Marcilhac, Alain Lesieutre, Maria de Beyrie, Bob and Cheska Vallois and Karl Lagerfeld.
During the 1970’s, Henri Chwast started collecting works of the 1920’s period after being introduced to the glories of Art Deco at the 1972 Jacques Doucet sale. Patiently and meticulously, he acquired iconic works by the major artists of Art Deco, mainly Dunand, Gray, Rousseau and Chareau. This connoisseur with a highly specific taste limited his collection to a small number of works, focusing on the crucial, the ground-breaking and the unique. The selection constituted by Henri Chwast’s discerning eye is a perfect illustration of aesthetic explorations during the 1920’s: a mix of luxury and modernity. Through his choices, Chwast established himself as a trail-blazer who, in the 1970’s, fully realised the importance of creations from this period, and sought to capture their essence.
This collection, housed for three decades in a family environment reflecting the collector’s discreet personality, is striking for the majestic quality of each work. It also provides an overview of the founding figures of Art Deco including some of the most active patrons of their time such as Madame Agnès (a customer, collector and close friend of Jean Dunand), Madame Labourdette (wife of the famous coach builder Jean-Henri Labourdette) and the Maharajah of Indore (a prominent figure in the 1920’s artistic milieu).
Time will tell but this collection, though rather small, has all the ingredients to become a truly legendary ensemble that will be remembered as one of the most iconic sales of Art Deco.
You can see the full catalogue here
And a short video:
PIERRE CHAREAU – ‘LP 180’ or ‘Masque’ alabaster and iron table lamp, c.1922-23 / 20,000-30,000 euros
JEAN DUNAND – Madame Agnès, unique lacquer, eggshell, ivory and silver leaves panel, 1926 / 112,000-167,000 euros
PIERRE CHAREAU – SN31 also called ‘La Religieuse’ (as it looks like a nun’s wimple), a mahogany, alabaster and metal floor lamp, c.1928 / 300,000-500,000 euros
CLEMENT ROUSSEAU – Macassar, ebony and kingwood veneer, oak, shagreen, mother-of-pearl, ivory and silvered metal chest, c.1925 / 245,000-356,000 euros
PIERRE CHAREAU – ‘MB405’ and ‘SN3’ a Rio rosewood and iron desk and stool, c.1926-1927 / 200,000-300,000 euros
JEAN DUNAND – a six panel lacquered wood and eggshell folding screen, c.1925 / 100,000-150,000 euros
PAULE LELEU – a wool carpet, c.1950 / 2,000-3,000 euros
JEAN DUNAND – a lacquered wood armchair, c.1924 / 80,000-120,000 euros
Deux Figures a Genoux, a lacquered panel, 1929 / 80,000-120,000 euros
‘Nu de dos’, a lacquered panel heightened with gold and silver’, 1929 / 60,000-80,000 euros
PIERRE CHAREAU – ‘LA 254’ a pair of iron and alabaster wall sconces, c.1925 / 30,000-50,000 euros
CARLO BUGATTI, ‘Cobra’ a pair of partially painted vellum and metal chairs, 1902 / 100,000-150,000 euros
PIERRE PATOUT – a stained mahogany and bronze armchair, c.1934 / 3,000-5,000 euros
DIM (Decoration Interieure Moderne) – a Rio rosewood and burr Rio rosewood veneered cabinet, 1925 / 3,000-3,350 euros
TAMARA DE LEMPICKA – ‘Nu Feminin’, a pencil on paper / 8,000-12,000 euros
EILEEN GRAY – a unique pine and lacquer vase, c.1920 / 250,000-350,000 euros
ARISTIDE MICHEL COLOTTE – a crystal bowl, c.1930 / 1,500-2,000 euros
RAOUL LAMOURDEDIEU – a patinated and silvered bronze, onyx, glass and metal floor lamp, c.1925 / 7,000-10,000 euros
JEAN GOULDEN – a silver, glass and enamel table lamp, 1926 / 80,000-120,000 euros
MAURICE JALLOT – a macassar, ebony veneer, oak, shagreen and ivory cabinet, c.1927 / 20,100-27,900 euros
JOSEPH CSAKY – ‘Jeune Fille’ a patinated bronze sculpture, 1964 – 4,000-6,000 euros
CLEMENT ROUSSEAU – occasional table, c.1925 / 78,000-100,000 euros
JEAN DUNAND – a lacquered metal and eggshell vase, c.190 / 70,000-100,000 euros
CLEMENT ROUSSEAU – Three rosewood veneer, shagreen and ivory occasional tables, c.1920-25 / 78,000-112,000 euros
EILEEN GRAY – ebonised oak, sycamore, glass top, ivory handles table-desk, 1919-1922 / 220,000-320,000 euros
BERNARD BOUTET DE MOVEL – S.A.R Le Maharadjah d’Indore, an oil on canvas / 200,000-300,000 euros
Bernard Boutet de Monvel
Madame Agnès’s showroom, 1927
– All images courtesy of Sotheby’s –