Guaranteed 140.000.000 dollar bid for Picasso's Les Femmes d’Alger

Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Guaranteed 140.000.000 dollar bid for Picasso's Les Femmes d’Alger

Pablo Picasso’s Les femmes d’Alger (Version “O”) will be among the star lots featured at Christie’s New York this Spring.

Guaranteed 140.000.000 dollar bid for Picasso's Les Femmes d’Alger

“To me there is no past or future in my art. If a work of art cannot live always in the present it must not be considered at all. The art of the Greeks, of the Egyptians, of the great painters who lived in other times, is not an art of the past; perhaps it is more alive today than it ever was...”  — Pablo Picasso, 1923

Christie’s is pleased to announce Pablo Picasso’s Les femmes d’Alger (Version “O”) will be among the star lots featured at Christie’s New York this Spring. This painting will be one of several masterpieces offered in ‘Looking Forward to the Past’, a sale created in the spirit of the many great curated auctions Christie’s has organized in New York and London in recent years. This majestic, vibrantly-hued painting is the final and most highly finished work from Picasso’s 1954-55 series in which he looked back to 19th century French master Eugene Delacroix for inspiration, and in the process created a new style of painting. Previously sold at Christie’s in 1997, as part of the legendary record-breaking sale of the Collection of Victor and Sally Ganz, this iconic work promises to cause a sensation on the global art market this spring. Christie’s has estimated the work to realize in the region of US$140 million.

“Les femmes d'Alger, (Version “O”) is the culmination of a herculean project which Picasso started after Matisse’s death, in homage to his lost friend and competitor, and which over a period of 2 months and after nearly 100 studies on paper and 14 other paintings led to the creation of this phenomenal canvas in February 1955. With its packed composition, play on cubism and perspective, its violent colors, and its brilliant synthesis of Picasso’s lifelong obsessions, it is a milestone in Picasso’s oeuvre and one of his most famous masterpieces, together with Les demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907 and Guernica, 1937. One can arguably say that this is the single most important painting by Picasso to remain in private hands. Its sale on 11 May will be a watershed moment in the market for 20th century art,” stated Olivier Camu, Deputy Chairman, Impressionist and Modern Art.

Picasso painted a series of fifteen variations on Delacroix’s Les femmes d'Alger between December 1954 and February 1955, designated as versions A through O. Throughout his series, Picasso references the Spanish master’s two versions of the shared subject, intermingling their elements.  Picasso is quoted as having an imaginary conversation with Delacroix, You had Rubens in mind, and painted a Delacroix. I paint [the Les femmes d’Alger series] with you in mind, and make something different again," (ed. M. McCully, A Picasso Anthology: Documents, Criticism, Reminiscences, London, 1997, p. 251).

Christie’s spokesperson commented on the upcoming bid to Artdependence Magazine: "We can confirm Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger (Version O) is guaranteed. Per usual, financial arrangements will be disclosed in the sale catalogue, which will also be online and readily accessible. We have yet to determine what the optimal arrangement will be, but this will be fully disclosed prior to sale. This will be a record setting price for Picasso."

Picasso's Les femmes d'Alger (Version O), photographed at Christie's King Street in London, March 23, 2015

Les femmes d'Alger (Version "O")
oil on canvas
44.7/8 x 57.5/8in. (114 x 146.4cm.)
Painted on February 14, 1955
Estimate: in the region of $US140 million

© 2015 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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