November 25, 2011

Hey, I Could Do That or Lemieux Breaks Record for Canadian Art


1910 Remembered (1962) depicts artist Jean Paul Lemieux as a child, standing between his parents who were soon to separate. Looking out from the canvas between his two stern, statue-like parents, Lemieux seems both hopeful and sad. The light on the parents seems cloudy, unclear, perhaps reflecting their mood at the time. I'm joking when I said I could do that, but they do looking amazingly simple, don't they.  Here are a few more examples of Lemieux. I love this one called Summer. Unfortunately the only repro I could find was on a postage stamp. I would definitely give this one house room.

Julie et l'Universe

The Evening Visitor
Lemieux (1904-1990) was a master of placing his subjects on the canvas. His stark horizons and his fields of snow or grass recreate a feeling of immensity I remember as a small child. Lemieux's work came from his imagination. He painted indoors without live models. To me his people are just another element of shape and colour. Although they do have such sweet faces.

I should be working on my other art paper today but my brother distracted me with the news that Nineteen Ten Remembered sold for $2.34 million, breaking a record for post-war,contemporary Canadian art sold at auction. Here are some details, pre-sale. Heffel.com has a listing of some of the other prices realized

Jean Paul Lemieux's northern views are an easy sell 

By John Pohl, Montreal Gazette Visual Arts critic
 
November 18, 2011< MONTREAL - The auction sale last spring of a Jean Paul Lemieux painting, Les Moniales, for $1.02 million has brought a number of the artist's works off the walls of collectors' homes and onto the market. One of them is Nineteen Ten Remembered, a painting well known through reproductions. It shows the artist as a boy with his soon-to-be-split-up parents, who are placed on either edge of the painting. The scene is set in the cold, barren northern landscape, overhung with the grey sky that Lemieux made his own.

This painting and eight others by Lemieux will be sold by Heffel Fine Art Auction House in Toronto on Thursday. The estimated selling price of Nineteen Ten Remembered has not been divulged, but it is likely to be more than $1 million, meaning the only way it will ever find an honoured place in a public museum in Canada is if the buyer donates it.

As popular as Lemieux's paintings of landscapes and figures are in Quebec, it may be fitting for one of his greatest works to find a home outside Quebec, or even Canada. For Lemieux shunned his reputation for being a Québécois painter par excellence, as art historian François-Marc Gagnon pointed out in an interview and in a short essay he wrote for the Heffel catalogue. Lemieux wanted to be known as a painter of the "north," not as a painter of a certain locale, and was exhilarated by the recognition he won in Moscow and Prague when his paintings were exhibited there in 1974. It proved to Lemieux that his art was universal, Gagnon said.

At home, Lemieux was at odds with his contemporaries, the Automatistes. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts collected the abstract paintings of the Automatistes, and the Musée nationale des beaux-arts du Québec collected Lemieux. Gagnon suggested that the museum in Quebec City or the National Gallery in Ottawa would be a more likely home for Nineteen Ten Remembered, should it ever make its way to a public institution.

But, of course, anyone willing to spend more than $1 million on a painting should be able to enjoy it in the privacy of his or her home, sitting on a sofa, as Gagnon said, "with tears in their eyes.
 
Riopelle Grande fête
Lemieux gave Nineteen Ten Remembered to his daughters, who sold it to a member of the Archambault family, who sold it to the neighbour who has consigned it to the auction. That collector is also putting a Riopelle on the market with an estimated value of $900,000 to $1.2 million.  Grande fête is an abstract made of strokes of red-brown, blue and yellow organized by black and white lines. Riopelle painted it in 1952, when his reputation in Paris was beginning to take off, Gagnon wrote. Grande fête is one of six Riopelles in the auction.

More than 25 well-known Quebec artists are represented in the auction, accounting for almost half the 179 paintings. One group of 16 paintings came out of a bank vault in Old Montreal, the property of François Dupré, who owned Montreal's Ritz-Carlton Hotel until his death in 1966. Dupré collected works by Canadian Impressionists and displayed them in the hotel; they went into storage in 1987. David Heffel, president of the auction house, said a family member contacted Heffel about the paintings. "It was a great surprise," he said. "It was a nice call to get from Europe."

The Dupré collection includes paintings by Emily Carr, A.Y. Jackson, Cornelius Krieghoff, Maurice Cullen, Clarence Gagnon, Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté and James Wilson Morrice, whose Régates à Saint-Malo from 1904-05 is expected to fetch $200,000 to $300,000.Heffel said the estimates are conservative. The average sale price has been twice the low estimate, he said. The paintings were on display at Galerie Heffel on Sherbrooke St. last week. To see them now, in reproduction, go to heffel.com

5 comments:

Nancy said...

I don't know much about Canadian artists but I like Lemieux so thank you for introducing me to him. The more I read about art the more I realise how little I've been exposed to some good/great art especially Regionalists or National favorites. I mean I'm familiar with the famous easily but good art isn't restricted to the really famous. And while I agree with Lemieux's simplcity, I have found in workin gon my own how hard it is to be simple. The less a painting is the more you have to be totally spot on in what is there. The wrong placement of an object or the wrong color and pfft! the painting doesn't work.

One of my favorites Regionalists here is Julie Speed who you may or may not have heard of.

Francesca said...

I don't know much about artists in general, my husband, who is Japanese, knows a lot because he likes to paint now that he has retired. I'm following you so that I can learn about art. Hello from a Sicilian in Rome!

The Clever Pup said...

Thanks Nancy.
Thanks Francesca for following.

Chic Panther said...

i love your new profile pic very edgy blondie!

Ima Wizer said...

Almost Milton Averyish......but sold for millions? Hmmmmmm.