Published: June 19, 2007
Christie’s Twentieth Century decorative art and design sale on June 5 and 6 totaled $17,610,320. Three auctions were conducted across two days †the various-owner sale, the Pinhas collection, Part II, and works from the collection of Eric Touchaleaume.
The evening sale included the undoubted highlight of the auction week, the prototype Maison Tropicale by Jean Prouvé †a visionary prefabricated construction that sold for $4,968,000, setting a new world auction record for the legendary designer.
Philippe Garner, international head of Twentieth Century decorative art and design, and Josh Holdeman, director of Twentieth Century decorative art and design, Christie’s Americas, said, “This series of sales has confirmed our preeminent position across the full spectrum of Twentieth Century decorative art and design. From French Art Nouveau and contemporary prototypes to midcentury Modernism and the spectacular sculpture of Rembrandt Bugatti, these sales achieved remarkable results for an equally remarkable range of works.”
The Prouvé prototype Maison Tropicale was bought by hotelier André Balazs, who owns Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, among other properties, including The Mercer in New York City and The Raleigh in Miami. One of only three ever produced by the legendary French designer, this prototype tropical house was designed and manufactured for Brazzaville, West Africa, and is one the most striking and sophisticated of all his architectural achievements and is exemplary of his oeuvre.
Prouvé is widely acknowledged as one of the Twentieth Century’s most important and influential designers. His work, ranging from household and institutional furniture to commercial buildings and residential projects, consistently expresses his signature industrial aesthetic and relies upon traditional metals, such as sheet steel and aluminum.
The three industrially produced Tropical Houses were manufactured and designed from 1949 to 1951.
After World War II, Prouvé moved his workshop to larger premises in Maxeville, France, a suburb of Nancy, and dedicated himself to the industrialization of architecture. He believed that architecture could be both well designed and inexpensive through the utilization of mass produced, prefabricated parts. The products of this visionary theory, Prouvé tropical houses, were prototypes intended to spawn a large series of mass-produced homes that would address the housing and infrastructure shortage in France’s colonial territory in Africa.
The first of the three tropical houses, an office for the director of the college in Niamey, Niger, was commissioned in 1949 by Paul Herbe, the architect-planner of the Niger territory. Prouvé’s two other tropical houses were sent to Brazzaville, capital of Belgian Congo in 1951. The smaller structure served as an office for the Bureau Regional d’Information de l’Aluminum Francais, and the larger, as a residence for its commercial director, Jacques Piaget. This residence, which was the structure sold by Christie’s, included a living area, a master bedroom, two additional bedrooms, a kitchen and one bathroom.
Other top lots in the sale that included works by Prouvé, Charlotte Perriand, Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret from the collection of Eric Touchaleaume were Le Corbusier and Jeanneret, an Indian rosewood, wrought iron and iron low table, circa 1960, $156,000; Jeanneret, a painted cedar and teak drawing table, circa 1960, $156,000; Prouvé, a lacquered steel, canvas and leather “Cité” armchair, circa 1930, $144,000; and Jeanneret, a teak library table, circa 1960, $144,000.
Among the range of 440 lots, from Art Nouveau to contemporary design, there were many other notable items, including Rembrandt Bugatti’s bronze “Lionne d’Afrique,” circa 1910, which sold for $1,832,000; a Tiffany Studios Grape leaded glass and bronze chandelier, circa 1905, $312,000; Marc du Plantier, a patinated and gilt-plaster table lamp, circa 1940, $252,000; Daum and Louis Majorelle, an overlaid, etched and applied glass and bronze table lamp, circa 1900, $192,000; Tiffany Studios, a turtleback tile, glass and bronze 13-light chandelier, circa 1916, $180,000; and Perriand and les Ateliers de Jean Prouvé, “Tunisie,” a lacquered steel, aluminum and pine bookshelf, 1952, $180,000.
Highlights from the Pinhas collection, Part II, were a series of Daum pieces, including an internally decorated cameo glass “marine” vase with applied decoration, circa 1900, $117,600; a marqueterie-sur-verre glass vase, circa 1900, $108,000; and an internally decorated applied glass vase, circa 1900, $81,600.
All sold prices include buyer’s premium.
For information, 212-636-2000 or www.Christies.com .
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