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By Culturekiosque Staff

BASEL, SWITZERLAND, 10 MAY 2011 — As specified by Ernst and Hildy Beyeler in their wills, the Galerie Beyeler at Bäumleingasse 9 in Basel is closing. Its holdings will be offered for sale by Christie's International at an auction to be held on 21 and 22 June 2011 in London as part of Christie’s major Evening and Day sales of Impressionist & Modern Art. The entire proceeds of the auction will go to the Fondation Beyeler to help cover the Swiss foundation's operating deficit and to assure its long-term future.

Ernst Beyeler was one of the most successful art dealers of our time. He was legendary for his committment to quality and for his exceptional eye. He knew many important twentieth-century artists personally and was thus allowed to select works directly from Pablo Picasso's stuido in Mougins. He was also a friend of Jean Dubuffet, Francis Bacon, Alberto Giacometti, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Mark Tobey and Roy Lichtenstein. In addition to post-Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary art, Ernst and Hildy Beyeler were also avid collectors of African and Oceanic art. Over the period of 60 years at his gallery, he mounted over 300 exhibitions and sold about 16,000 original works of art to museums and private collectors around the world.

Ernst Beyeler in his gallery office, 22 May 1982

Ernst Beyeler's carefully designed gallery catalogues and books about artists are well-known and highly regarded in art circles. In 1987 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Basel and in 1998 he became a knight of France's Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur.

In 1970 Ernst Beyeler was a co-founder of the international art fair Art Basel and belonged to its committe for many years. At age 88, Ernst Beyeler passed away on 25 February 2010, less than two years after his wife Hildy.

Among the highlights of the upcoming Christie's auction sales are significant works by Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Alexej von Jawlensky, Oscar Kokoschka, Alberto Giacometti, Alexander Calder, Paul Klee, Fernand Léger, Jean Arp, Jean Dubuffet, Mark Tobey, Frank Stella, Roy Lichtenstein, Georg Baselitz, and Anselm Kiefer among others.

Paul Gauguin (1848-1903): Le Vallon, Tahiti
Oil on canvas, 1892, 42 x 67.5 cm, signed lower left
Estimate: £5.5-8.5 million (US$9-14 million)
Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2011

An intimate insight into Ernst Beyeler’s world will be provided by several small jewels with which he and his wife Hildy lived and could never conceive of selling during their own lifetime. These include the celebrated Wood Stabile by Calder, which was executed in the same year as Beyeler opened his gallery at Bäumleingasse 9 in 1945 and which sat either on or beside his desk throughout his career. In this vein, the sale will also include a Klee watercolor entitled Parklandschaft which was executed at the peak of the artist’s career in 1920 and hung above Beyeler’s bedside table in Basel for over 50 years. Amongst the works on paper is Giacometti’s Portrait of James Lord, a drawing of the celebrated author James Lord, which Beyeler personally prized as one of the artist’s great portraits of the 1950s, and which was displayed in his home for several decades.

The highlights of Christie’s Evening Sale on 21 June will include a late Monet Nymphéas executed between 1916 and 1919. Painted on a grand scale, this painting is considered by some as a precursor to the post-war abstractions of Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, and Sam Francis.

The auction will include Picasso's Buste de Françoise, a colorist portrait of 1946 with an estimate of £7-10 million (US$10-15 million). Other masterpieces include Gauguin’s Le Vallon Tahiti of 1892, Toulouse-Lautrec’s Miss May Belfort of 1895, Renoir’s Nu allongé of 1902, and Léger’s Le Drapeau of 1919.

In addition to the above, the auctions will include a selection of paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints as well as a group of 30 Picasso ceramics that will be featured in the Day sale portion of the Impressionist and Modern Art auctions on 22 June.

A select group of highlights is currently on view at Christie’s New York until 11 May 2011.

Related Culturekiosque Archives

Ernst Beyeler: 1921 - 2010

A Bright Light En Bref: Basquiat at the Fondation Beyeler

Text and Context: Jenny Holzer at the Beyeler

Giacometti in Basel: Too Rich, Not Thin Enough

Visual Encounters: Africa, Oceania and Modern Art

Eros in Modern Art

Giacometti Bronze Breaks Art Auction Record

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