Works by François-Xavier Lalanne, Jean Prouvé, Ettore Sottsass, Jr., Lucio Fontana and Osvaldo Borsani Among the Sale Highlights
Phillips has announced highlights from the London Design auction, taking place on 9 November. Featuring 139 lots, the sale brings together rare and important works of 20th and 21st century French, Italian, and Scandinavian design. Led by François-Xavier Lalanne’s 'Agneau', highlights from the sale will be on view at Phillips’ London galleries on Berkeley Square from 3 - 9 November 2021.
Domenico Raimondo, Senior Director, Head of Department, Europe, and Senior International Specialist, said, “With an exciting and varied selection of French, Italian and Scandinavian post-war design alongside contemporary pieces, lighting, and ceramics, our design sale this fall brings together a breadth of material of the highest quality and craftsmanship, spanning the 20th and 21st centuries. We are proud to offer this selection and particularly honored to include a remarkable ceiling light designed by Ettore Sottsass, Jr. in 1956. The market for design across collecting categories has proven strong in recent seasons and, with the vast majority of the pieces in our sale coming to auction for the first time this November, this auction provides an incredible opportunity for collectors to acquire rare and unique pieces of great provenance.”
Leading the sale is François-Xavier Lalanne’s 'Agneau', from the 'Nouveaux Moutons' series. An iconic example of Lalanne’s whimsical animal themed body of work, the present work is made of epoxy stone and patinated bronze, allowing it to be displayed outdoors as well as indoors. Lalanne’s first sheep sculptures were covered in wool and part of a 1966 installation titled Pour Polyphème shown at the Salon de la Jeune Peinture in the Musée d'Art Moderne de la ville de Paris. Visitors to the Pour Polyphème installation, which comprised twenty white sheep and four black sheep displayed in the centre of the room, were invited to sit, and lie down. The show was a great success and consolidated Lalanne’s associations with Surrealist themes. In the 1990s, the artist added a ram and lambs to complete the family of animals. The present model is part of the ‘Nouveaux Moutons’ series, a continuation of his work closely linked to naturalistic forms, which aimed to bring sculpture into the day-to-day environments such as the living room or the garden.
Additional examples of French design to feature in the sale include a Jean Prouvé table, a selection of Jean Dunand ceramics, and an exceptional Free-standing bar designed by Hungarian born Mathieu Matégot, who moved to Paris in 1931. An eclectic example of Matégot’s ability to work with a range of materials and innovative treatments of materials such as metal, glass, rattan and more, the present work has been authenticated by the Matégot’s sons. A unique find, pieces of this size designed by Matégot rarely come to the market.
The celebrated collaboration between Lucio Fontana and Osvaldo Borsani began in Italy in the immediate post war period, born out of their mutual passion for the exploration of the continuity of material and space in their work, their creative partnership started from the late 1940s and continued throughout the 1950s. The present study consists of a wall-mounted shelving system, integrated bar cabinet, desk, swivel chair and side chair designed by Borsani and manufactured by Tecno, the innovation and technology-led company he founded in 1953. Displayed on the integrated bar cabinet is a signed 1959 Concetto spaziale drawing on canvas by Fontana. This juxtaposition of Fontana’s unique, expressive works of art within the clean, functional setting of Borsani’s pioneering furnishings is characteristic of their partnership.
Another Italian design highlight of the sale is a rare ceiling light designed by Ettore Sottsass, Jr. in 1956 and likely influenced formally and in the use of materials and colours following Sottsass’ trip to New York where he visited the studio of George Nelson, Herman Miller’s art director. Further highlights of Italian design include rare Murano vases from Carlo Scarpa and Paolo Venini as well as a selection of furniture designed by Gio Ponti.
Included amongst the Scandinavian highlights is a unique suite of furniture designed circa 1949 by Frits Schlegel for the new home of resistance fighter Erik Nyegaard after his original home was bombed by the Germans during WW2. After the war, Nyegaard returned to the site of his destroyed home and collaborated with Schlegel on several proposals for his new home, including the present set of furniture. Crafted in Brazilian rosewood with metal details, the wood is softly rounded with a subtle transition from leg to armrest. Influences of traditional Danish furniture design are visible in the execution of the pieces, which are meticulously made and show exquisite craftsmanship.