Swiss Made UNLOCKED: Sotheby’s launches a brand-new multi-disciplinary online auction

Art Daily
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A tender portrait of a child by Albert Anker, the classical Swiss painter best-known for his intimate and life-like renditions of domestic life in rural Switzerland (Knabe bei Tisch (Ruedi Anker) II, lot 40 est. CHF 200,000 – 300,000). Courtesy Sotheby's.
A tender portrait of a child by Albert Anker, the classical Swiss painter best-known for his intimate and life-like renditions of domestic life in rural Switzerland (Knabe bei Tisch (Ruedi Anker) II, lot 40 est. CHF 200,000 – 300,000). Courtesy Sotheby’s.

ZURICH.- Shaking up the conventions of category and calendar, Sotheby’s Switzerland is to launch a brand-new cross-category online sale, bringing together art and rare objects from 13 fields of artistic creation. Embracing the interdisciplinary approach which many collectors take when assembling their collections, the online auction will juxtapose Old Masters, Swiss Art, Impressionist & Modern Art, Contemporary Art, Photographs, African & Oceanic Art, Jewellery, Watches and more. This innovative online sale will be open for bidding on from the 23rd to the 30th of June.

All of the lots on offer showcase the astonishing diversity of art in and from Switzerland. They include masterworks by Switzerland’s blue-chip painters, led by Ferdinand Hodler, Félix Vallotton, Albert Anker and Cuno Amiet. Challenging narrow definitions and playing with contrasts, it will also include an array of renowned artists and creators from Switzerland and abroad, whose work could effortlessly be added to any international collection. This rich and sometimes surprising dialogue will include a group of 17th-century miniatures and a large-scale work of Orientalism by Auguste Veillon, alongside Modernist compositions by Serge Poliakoff, Victor Vasarely and Verena Loewensberg and Contemporary works by Erwin Wurm, Robert Rauschenberg and George Baselitz.

Speaking ahead of the sale, Caroline Lang, Chairman of Sotheby’s Switzerland, commented, “Working mostly from home these past months, the Swiss team has pulled together its creative forces to assemble this sale across 13 categories. It has always struck me that private collections in Switzerland truly reflect the individuals who put them together, making surprising connections between artists across different periods, movements and categories. Each collector, with their artistic eye, has composed something unique to them – as unique as each of the 26 cantons which make up Switzerland. We can’t wait to make new and exciting connections around the pieces we have brought together for Swiss Made Unlocked.”

Stéphanie Schleining, Head of the Swiss Art department, added, “I am proud to showcase the openness and diversity of the art we have here. I am very excited that for the first time, we will be placing masterworks of Swiss Art alongside international artists. I have always championed the important contribution of Swiss artists to the key international movements of art history – and their appeal to global collectors! It has been hugely exciting to break down barriers and work with Contemporary and Modern Art specialist Nick Deimel and the whole Swiss team, to weave together this innovative and thought-provoking sale.”

Among the highlights of the sale are masterpieces by blue-chip painters of Swiss Art, as well as two major works by figures of Swiss Expressionism: Paul Camenisch and Hermann Scherer.

An unmissable highlight is a stunning autumnal landscape by Cuno Amiet, Herbstlandschaft. Realized in 1906, it is representative of the most innovative and creative period in this renowned artist’s career (lot 31, est. CHF 500,000 – 700,000).

A female portrait completed by Ferdinand Hodler around 1914 shows the celebrated Swiss painter experimenting freely with a bold expressive style and colours. In this portrait, the bold outlines and the sitter’s pose are reminiscent of Egon Schiele’s work (Bildnis einer Unbekannten, lot 47, est. CHF 240,000 – 350,000). Elsewhere, the sale also offers an early symbolist landscape by Hodler, Landschaft mit Wiese und Waldrand (lot 34, est. CHF 120,000 – 160,000).

In sharp contrast is a tender portrait of a child by Albert Anker, the classical Swiss painter best-known for his intimate and life-like renditions of domestic life in rural Switzerland (Knabe bei Tisch (Ruedi Anker) II, lot 40 est. CHF 200,000 – 300,000).

Prolific Swiss-French artist Félix Vallotton is represented in the sale by a number of works illustrating his varied oeuvre. Vallotton rarely included human figures in his landscapes during this period – however in this powerful and evocative semi-industrial scene realized near Paris in 1917, the painter places a tiny man in the foreground, hinting at his dismay at the impact of industrialization (La Seine à Mantes, 1917, lot 78, est. CHF 350,000 – 550,000).

Erwin Wurm’s ‘Fat Car’ sculptures perfectly illustrate the Austrian conceptual artist’s humorous approach to serious societal issues. The piece sees Wurm taking on the themes of consumption, materialism, money and power with the humour and irreverence which have earned him a place in key collections all over the world. (Fat Car, 2001-2004, lot 5, est. CHF 60,000 – 80,000).

American painter and graphic artist Robert Rauschenberg is featured in the sale thanks to a striking collage from 1979 (22 Carats, 1979, lot 57, est. CHF 70,000 – 90,000).

The Contemporary section of the sale also includes a wonderfully expressive and dynamic work on paper by German painter George Baselitz depicting a figure catching a ball. Realized in 1981 – the first year his work was exhibited in New York – this piece was part of an exhibition dedicated to works on paper by the artist the following year in Cologne (Untitled (Ballspieler), 1981, lot 25, est. CHF 18,000 – 24,000).

Exploring different interpretations of Abstraction is a group of 20th-century works, including Serge Poliakoff’s Composition aux formes blanches, 1959 (lot 10, est. CHF 70,000 – 90,000, below left). Alongside this work, the geometrical abstraction of Victor Vasarely’s Bug II, 1956 (lot 9, est. CHF 40,000 – 60,000) and Verena Loewensberg’s Untitled, 1976 (lot 6, est. CHF 30,000 – 40,000, below right) naturally finds a place in our cross-category Zurich sale.

Representing 13 collecting categories, Sotheby’s specialist team in Switzerland set themselves the challenge to shake up the traditional auction approach and present art in a different way. They have woven together artworks and objects ranging from Old Masters – for example exquisite miniatures from the Pohl-Ströher collection, which recently met with huge success in our London sale rooms – right through to the contemporary fashion photography of Michel Comte. Taking in painting, sculpture, design, decorative arts, the conversation evolved to also include the art of watchmaking and high jewellery.

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