Munch and Max Beckmann at Bloomsbury 20th Century Prints Sale

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Edvard Munch (1863-1944)  The Woman at the UrnBloomsbury Auctions’ thriving 20th Century Prints sales have become part of the fabric of London’s summer Modern and Contemporary Prints sales. On 2nd and 3rd July, the expert in charge and head of department, Alexander Hayter, has put together a stimulating and diverse 635 lot sale; it encompasses fresh to the market and privately owned works by key figures such as Edward Munch and Max Beckmann, as well as cutting edge pieces by contemporary Chinese artists whose work is so much in demand today.

Pictured right: Edvard Munch (1863-1944) the woman at the urn (w.119.v/vi) the very rare, unique lithograph, 1898, Woll’s fifth state of six, one of approximately 20 trial proof impressions of this lithograph hand-printed by the artist, signed in pencil, there was no edition, on buff wove paper, the full sheet printed to the edges, in good condition, sheet 425 x 280mm. est. £30000 – £50000

A highlight of the sale is a unique lithograph by the greatest Norwegian artist of all time, Edvard Munch (1863-1944). The Woman at the Urn is a lithograph of 1898, the period which is regarded as the artist’s most creative. Depicting a naked young girl with long hair peering into a steaming cauldron with an old man’s bearded face on it, this linear nightmarish image is unique, there was no edition, it was hand-printed by the artist on buff wove paper and signed in pencil. Discovered in a private collection in Canada, this extraordinary piece is estimated to fetch £30,000-50,000.

Regarded as one of the greatest figure painters of the 20th century, Max Beckmann’s work mirrored pre war German society and the rise of Nazism. Bloomsbury is delighted to be offering a very rare and important set of extensively hand-coloured, signed drypoints illustrating the adventures of art collector, ‘Ebbi’ Kautsch from his staid middle class home to the excitement and profanity of Berlin . Hand-coloured prints by Beckmann are extremely rare and they were usually given by the artist to his friends and family. This 1924 work given by the artist to a relation of his wife and is the only known hand coloured copy of Ebbi, Komodie; it was recently exhibited in a retrospective of the artist organised by the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. These witty and brilliantly coloured drawings are expected to fetch £30,000-50,000.

An astonishing wave of creativity and liberalism has characterised Chinese arts since the fall of Mao and especially since the 1980s. Chinese avant garde is extremely fashionable at the moment and this is the first time such a large group of contemporary ‘cutting edge’ Chinese prints has been offered at auction. Appealing particularly to young, wealthy Chinese educated abroad these prints have become not only a status symbol but also represent Chinese ‘forward thinking.’ Many are concerned with western consumerism such the lithographs printed in colours by Wang Guangyi, whose seemingly traditional messages of the Cultural Revolution, are in fact promoting Chanel No 19 or Gillette (estimates range from £600-8,000). Other sought after Chinese artists in Bloomsbury’s sale include the troubling images of Yue Minjun such as Noah’s Ark (estimated £2000-3000) or the series of family portraits by the popular Zhang Xiaogang (estimates from £2000-5500).

No sale of 20th Century Prints is complete without examples of Matisse, Picasso, Pasmore, Warhol, Bacon, Hirst and Banksy to name but a few and Bloomsbury’s summer bonanza includes them all.
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