“Contemporary East” Comes to London

Monday, May 16, 2016
“Contemporary East” Comes to London

Post-War Art from Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and the Caucasus Introduced to International Auction for the first time

“Contemporary East” Comes to London

Sotheby’s “Contemporary East” sale in London on 7th June, will introduce works by many post-war artists from across Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and the Caucasus to the international market for the first time. Including fine art, photography, sculpture and design, the auction unites over 120 pieces by established and emerging artists that have rarely, or never before, appeared at auction outside their native countries.

Jo Vickery, Senior International Director, Russian Art, said: “Post-war art from this region is only now being properly reassessed, with major museums such as Tate and MoMA fast acquiring post-war art from Eastern Europe and Russia through dedicated acquisition programmes. We’re seeing a generational shift; traditional, conservative tastes in the region are changing, and 60s and 70s art is being newly embraced.

In this sale, we’ve placed a special focus on those artists who are already established in both major public and private collections, but don’t yet have an international profile on the market. This is a hugely exciting area with much potential, and plenty for collectors to discover and explore.

Contemporary East will reveal both the differences and common preoccupations shared in this culturally diverse part of the world. While experiences of socialism and the new internationalism sparked off by its collapse in 1989 shaped the overarching cultural landscape, the artistic language is diverse. In Contemporary East we see the influence of the Russian avant-garde and the Bauhaus, pop art and conceptual practices, and the figurative art that was hugely popular in socialist and post-socialist countries.

The sale will cover Judit Reigl, one of the most important Hungarian-French painters of her generation, the Russian duo Komar and Melamid, the collection of Anne and Stephane Tatischeff (two influential supporters of the Russian dissident movement), vintage photographs and collages by Běla Kolářová and Dóra Maurer, and a rare group of ten works by Polish designer Roman Cieślewicz, led by his striking 1968 image of Muhammad Ali. The sale is expected to realise £1.2 – 1.8m in total.

Komar and Melamid, Double Self-Portrait from the Sots Art Series (1972) oil on canvas, 92cm diameter, £100,000-150,000. RUSSIA

Drawing on State propaganda images of Lenin and Stalin, this is a rare, iconic and genredefining work of early Sots Art (Soviet Pop Art) that flourished in 70s and 80s Russia. Vitaly Komar (b. 1943) and Alexander Melamid (b. 1945) saw several works destroyed by Soviet authorities at their unofficial “Bulldozer Exhibition” in 1974, including another version of this double-self-portrait. Attesting to the significance of this image, the artists later chose to create a third version to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the show. Their works are held in the collections of the Guggenheim, Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

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