Flash News: Jérome Bosch – Berne – Amedeo Modigliani



Every fortnight, Artprice provides a short round up of art market news: Jérome Bosch – Berne – Amedeo Modigliani

Jerome Bosch, 500 years after
The 500th anniversary of the death of Hieronymus Bosch (Hiëronymus van Aken BOSCH 1450-1516) is being marked by a major retrospective in the Netherlands (from 13 February to 8 May 2016, Noordbrabants Museum, Den Bosch). Under the title “Hieronymus Bosch: Visions of a genius”, the exhibition will then be moving on to Madrid for the summer (from 31 May to 11 September 2016, Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain). Involving several years of preparation by a committee of experts, this exhibition is a major event that some are already insistently calling the “Exhibition of the Century”. Although it includes only a small number of Bosch’s works (twenty paintings and some drawings), the scientific effort that had to be invested beforehand, requests for international loans, required restoration, clarification of attribution concerning which works were created entirely by the hand of the artist or not, were all challenges to be met. This is the first time that such a complete body of work around Bosch has been brought together for appreciation. Nevertheless, The Temptation of Saint Anthony and especially the famous Garden of Delights, triptych of Heaven and Hell, are conspicuous by their absence at the Noordbrabant Museum, as the Prado Museum finally withdrew from lending the two masterpieces. These regrettable absences do not however appear to have curbed pre-sales for the Noordbrabant show as tens of thousands of tickets were already sold before the official opening. By early May, more than 250,000 visitors are expected to plunge into the fantasy world of the famous and rare Flemish primitive painter whose works have for a long time no longer circulated on the auction market.

Chinese art descends upon Bern
A key exhibition for lovers of contemporary Chinese art: Chinese Whispers, organised with Kathleen Bühler in Bern, brings together 150 works from the famous collection of Uli Sigg (from 19 February to 19 June 2016). The exhibition is certainly less dense than the one held ten years ago (350 works from the Sigg collection exhibited in Bern in 2005), but it is important enough to deserve being shared across two institutions: the Kunstmuseum and the Paul Klee Centre. Entrepreneur and ambassador to China from 1995 to 1998, Uli Sigg was a pioneer in the collection and influence of contemporary Chinese art. The adventure began in 1995, when he decided to explore the underground world of contemporary Chinese art, well before the Chinese themselves gave it any credit. Four years later, the collection was already coherent enough for a selection of works to be exhibited at the Venice Biennale (1999), a springboard ensuring international visibility. The Uli Sigg collection is now no less than the largest and most comprehensive in the field worldwide. It comprises more than 2,200 works purchased systematically over 40 years, not so much in accordance with Mr. Sigg’s personal taste, but more specifically for their significance. In short, this is more of a scientific collection, such as might have been constituted by a major cultural institution. In light of this, the interest of his donation of nearly 1,500 works to the M+ Museum in Hong Kong can be fully appreciated. All the major trends are represented in the Berne exhibition, from the appropriation of Western art adapted to Chinese themes, and up to the installations and video works that are more controversial in China. The show includes stars of the market, such as FANG Lijun and AI Weiwei, as well as artists less present in the auction world, such as the pair Yuan SUN (born 1972) and Peng Yu (born in 1973) (SUN & PENG Yuan & Yu). The hyper-realistic doddery old folk of their Old People’s Home (2007) are also among the collection of Frenchman François Pinault. They already caused a sensation in Paris within the exhibition A Triple Tour (21 October 2013 to 6 January 2014).

Amedeo Modigliani, the Inner Eye
Amedeo Modigliani, the Inner Eye is the title of a historic retrospective taking place from 27 February to 5 June 2016 at the Museum of Modern, Contemporary and Outsider Art (LaM) in Lille, France. The Lille museum, which already owns six paintings, eight drawings and a sculpture, has managed to bring together a hundred Amedeo MODIGLIANI works (49 paintings, 43 drawings and 5 sculptures), many on loan for the first time ever in France, including those from the Centre Pompidou and the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris. Divided into three chapters, the exhibition explores Modigliani’s relationship with ancient, non-Western sculpture, his practice of portraiture, and finally his relationship with collector Roger Dutilleul (1873-1956), his greatest patron. Between 1918 and 1925, Roger Dutilleul accumulated 34 paintings and 21 drawings by Modigliani, a rare collection representing almost 10% of the artist’s production. It is worth recalling that Modigliani died prematurely at the age of 35, weakened by his excessive consumption of alcohol and drugs, before finally succumbing to tuberculosis. The rarity factor partially explains the real boom in prices and unprecedented sales recorded in 2015. Buoyed by an absolute record of USD 170.4m for Reclining Nude, sold at Christie’s New York 9 November 2015, annual sales of his works have exploded, hoisting him to fourth place worldwide behind Picasso, Monet and Warhol. Five paintings went beyond the threshold of USD 10m at auction in 2015, a year that was exceptional for the number and quality of works proposed. The market will certainly be less well supplied in 2016.