Auction | China Guardian (HK) Auctions Co., Ltd.
2019 Autumn Auctions
Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art

Bernard Buffet (1928-1999)
Nature Morte aux Poissons(Painted in 1954)

Oil on canvas

195 x 98 cm.76 7/9 x 38 4/7 in.

Signed in English and dated on upper right

2000, Ching Wan Society Millennium Exhibition, Chang Foundation, Taipei, p.283
2001, Taiwan's Treasures:Western Art From Private Collections, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei, p.152
2001, Taiwan's Treasures:Western Art From Private Collections, United Daily News Group, Taipei, p.83
2003, Legend of The Mountain-Encountering Western Masteres' Works, Mountain Art Foundation, Taipei, p.8
2014, The Joy of Collecting Art, Artist Publishing, Taipei, p.298
Jul 2000, Treasure in Mountain-T he Select Collection of Mountain Art Museum, Mountain Art Museum, Kaohsiung
Oct 2000, Ching Wan Society Millennium Exhibition, Chang Foundation Museum, Taipei
6 Oct – 2 Dec 2001, Taiwan's Treasures: Western Art From Private Collections, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taipei
Mar 2003, Legend of the Mountain-Encountering Western Masteres' Works, Shanghai Art Museum, Shanghai
29 Apr – 11 Jun 2003, Legend of the Mountain-Encountering Western Masteres' Works, Sichuan Art Museum, Chengdu
25 Apr – 25 May 2014, the Joy of Collecting Art, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, Taipei

Galerie David et Garnier, Paris
11 May 1994, Christie's New York Spring Auction, Lot 330
Important Private Collection, Asia

The Dazzling Light That Foresees the Future
Nature Morte aux Poissons: a Masterpiece by Bernard Buffet

When Pierre Descargues saw Buffet's work at 1947's Salon des Independants, one of the top two exhibitions in Paris, the French art critic published a review on a local art newspaper, which conveyed between the lines his excitement of discovering the rising star in European art world. This Paris-born prodigy, who made his way into Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts at 15 and joined Salon des Moins de Trente Ans at 18, did not let Descargues down. He shined again at Salon d'automne a half year later in September and held his first solo exhibition in December before being awarded Prix de la Critique in the following year. Buffet grew from a fledgling artist to a member of the masters' club in just two years. Critics hailed him as the successor of realist painting and the most influential expressionist painter after Pablo Picasso. He managed to capture the post-war unsettling context in France with his unique mindset and incomparable understanding of art in wartime, establishing himself as a legendary figure who witnessed the vicissitude of an era.

In Memory of His Mother
A Good Investment With Great Artistic Value
With the support of his mother, Buffet started receiving formal artistic training in 1943. Buffet was very close to his mom. At the age of seven, he had a wonderful time at Brittany with his mother, which nurtured his special affection for beach. Since then, he had been going back there with his mom every summer until 17, when his mother passed away. Devastated by her death, Buffet began creating still life paintings with beach scenery and marine life, his most iconic subjects, to commemorate his mom.

Nature Morte aux Poissons present at this auction is one of the representative pieces that came out in 1954 during his last days at Nanse Studio. Buffet went through his first career height from 1951 to 1955. The year following his completion of Nature Morte aux Poissons, the magazine Connaissance des Arts named him the best of the top ten post-war artists, one of his career highlights over this period. As a result, his works from the late 40s to the 50s are the most popular ones among collectors. This piece is a good investment with exceptional artistic value, because six among his ten most expensive auction items were finished over the same period of Nature Morte aux Poissons, which is also the fourth largest still life painting of fish ever in auction.

He Painted as He Lived
Buffet painted the seafood feast on the table from a bird's eye view. The flat and sizeable flounder is a frequent subject in his paintings. His crisscrossing strokes may remind the viewer of the abstract expressionist Willem De Kooning. The small blue fish on the grill are lined up neatly. Their triangular shapes match the wine glass and the candle holder, and all these items are geometrically consistent with the pyramid-shaped white tablecloth. The objects sparsely distributed on the table, together with the sharp black lines, exhibit the beauty of cubist orderliness. The dark red background naturally puts the still life at the foreground in the limelight, creating a sort of detachment like that between front stage and back stage to enhance the emotional appeal. The artist projected abundant sentiments onto the figurative sea fish to recall the memorable moments with his mom, which nevertheless can never be relived.

In comparison with the works of the same theme created right after the pass-away of his mom, this piece shows a more clear and targeted objective in terms of the composition, the brushstrokes and the choice of subjects. Buffet by then had more confidence in his painting techniques, fewer negative thoughts about the loss of his mother and higher living standards. The use of bright colors reflects the dazzling light he gave off at the prime of his life. It is also a way to express his positive expectations for himself, his loved ones and the nation.

Price estimate:
HKD: 1,600,000 - 2,500,000
USD: 204,000 – 318,800

Auction Result:
HKD: 1,888,000



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