Tuesday, 21 February 2017

The Andre Derain Project


The Andre Derain Project

The Andre Derain Project began in 2014 and was established in order to put together as complete a list as possible of the many paintings painted by Andre Derain between the years 1904 – 1907 (Fauve period). These are paintings that have previously not been recognised and catalogued officially or only have partial cataloguing.



The project builds data on the paintings by researching and cataloguing all Derain Fauve period paintings ever published in all forms of literature (Exhibition Catalogues, Auction Catalogues, Dealer Archives, Market indexes etc…) and by talking to past and current collectors of Andre Derain's artworks.



Once the data has been edited further, the data will be shared with the Derain Committee in Paris.



Why it is important to support research projects of this Nature:



As the value of artworks increases, so has the need for the correct cataloguing of art to protect both the artist's legacy and the collectors who greatly admire and understand the importance of Fauve art.

This project and others we run, aim to bring the scattered provenance puzzle pieces together that assist to protect, grow and inform our understanding of artists and their works.



We are dedicated to the risk protection of artworks and collectors, ensuring that provenance of artworks are represented as accurately as possible in the present and future.



Collectors who hold Andre Derain artworks in their collection are welcome to get in touch with us. We encourage contact from collectors who are seeking further provenance recovery on their paintings and we are happy to provide collectors with any data we have recovered on paintings that they own.



Since 2014 the project has assessed over 390 catalogues (including auction indexes), a large number of Dealer Archives and has so far recovered data for further assessment on the following number of Fauve Period landscape Oil Paintings*:

The Andre Derain Project




Painting Period
Number of Paintings Under Assessment
Chatou Period 1904-5 Oil Paintings Identified
47
Collioure Period 1905 Oil Paintings Identified
40
London Period 1905-6 Oil Paintings Identified
32
L'Estaque Period 1906-7 Oil Paintings Identified
41
Total
*160



* This number is subject to change as our research evolves.

The project is also beginning to look at Fauve period Figurative & Watercolour paintings.



Contact Us for further information on this project. 

The Andre Derain Project


Monday, 12 December 2016

Collector Interviews

Mr Merzbacher On Developing His Taste for Art


'When you see how a man collects, you can really distinguish the character of that man, if it is done by himself.'



Introduction

 Frantisek Kupka, Forme de Jaune (Notre Dame), 1911, Oil on Canvas. 73 x 59.5cm
Fig. 1

After the last 15 years of stark developments in the art market, David Remsing and Abbey Walmsley wanted to begin a series of interviews with some of the most important collectors and influencers of early 20th century European Art. These interviews show how collectors have grown and how they chose to interact within a consistently changing art market. These conversations promote the importance of developing collections of art protected by thorough research and risk assessment. They reveal a passionate dedication to the artists and their works, and the art history they have forged. Through these interviews we hope to further educate and encourage new collectors. Our first interview is with one of the most significant collectors of the last century and he is still actively collecting today, Mr Werner Merzbacher, head of the Merzbacher – Mayer Collection. Here we talk to him about developing his taste for art:



A – When did you start collecting and what were you interested in at that time? 
M – My general interest in the arts developed out of a necessity in my youth. As a poor boy among many others I came here to Switzerland with a childrens’s transport in 1939 before World War II. I had to earn money and worked in my free time as an extra at the Schauspielhaus (Theatre house). I developed a love for films as visual expression of emotions and history and then also for art.
In my youth my first interest was not so much in beauty and harmony. I looked in art for political and social messages and felt close to works from the social critical Mexican artists Rivera, Orozco, Tamayo and Siqueiros and among the Europeans the early works of Picasso and the German expressionists. In my twenties I collected paintings from the social critical Philippino Mexican artist Tabueno and from an Italian artist named Gambino. I choose at that time rather sad paintings that were in agreement with the life and difficulties I had in my youth.



A – How would you describe these 'sad' paintings? 
M – Do you remember Fellini’s film La Strada(1954)? If you see that film you will understand what I mean. The social and economic situation was rather difficult and of course influenced me to choose the artist and their paintings accordingly.




 Andre Derain, Bateaux dans le Port de Collioure, 1905, oil on canvas, 72 x 91cm
Fig. 2
A - How did your taste develop from this point forward? 
M – I went to America when I was 20 and was drafted into the army. My further development brought me 1950 into the family of my wife, Gaby, whose grand-father, Bernhard Mayer, had collected in the early 1910-1920 10 important paintings by Van Gogh, Cezanne, Renoir, Picasso and Matisse. I was deeply impressed by the quality of these works. This experience originated in me the wish to collect important paintings myself. I started to trade in currencies and shares to make more money and as I became more successful life I started to buy impressionists paintings by Monet, Sisley and Toulouse-Lautrec. 
 
 Maurice de Vlaminck, La Seine a Pont de Chatou. 1905-06, oil on canvas, 54.5 x 74cm
Fig.3

'Throughout my life I became interested in art out of a need.'

 



A – When you describe the string that runs through your collection, this element or ingredient, how would you describe that?
M – With time I developed my own taste. I searched for my own style and believe to have found it. At the beginning of the 70ies I began collecting paintings from those  periods that were to me the most meaningful. These were basically from the years 1904-1922, a period of total change from the impressionism. My conviction is that we feel closest to those art movements that represent our inner feelings. An honest collection is therefore also the expression of the collector’s character. We all may respect and try to understand many art periods, but we really love only those works in which we find our own character and feelings expressed. All those who meet me, know that I am not an introvert but an active and open person. Therefore it is understandable that I am not drawn to just lovely and quiet landscapes but to colours, dynamics and expressiveness. That led me to the fauves represented by Derain, Vlaminck, Matisse, Friesz and the early Braque as well as sculptures from that period by Gonzales, Lipschitz and Kirchner. 
Maurice de Vlaminck, La danseuse du 'Rat Mort', 1905-6, Oil on Canvas, 77 x 65.5cm
Fig.4
From the fauvists I then developed my love for the German expressionists active from 1908-1920 with the painters Kandinksy, Jawlensky, Schmidt-Rottluff, Klee, Kirchner, Franz Marc, Nolde, Heckel. Then the Russian Avantgarde expressed by Malevich, Talin, Piuni, Lisitsky, Filonow, Larionow and the women painters, Popova, Rozanova, Exter, Ender, Gontscharowa and Udaltsova.
When you see what a person collects, you can really recognize the character. I have a very good friend who almost got the Nobel Prize for chemistry and when you meet him, he will entertain you with his jokes and positive attitude. You would think he is the happiest normal person. Then you come to his home and you suddenly see art by Lucien Freud, Magritte, Delvaux – difficult paintings and you then realize there is another aspect him being expressed in his art.


I am very conscious of this and feel that in my collection you can see that I am a positive person regardless of what happened to me in my youth. I have friends who have to cope with the same difficulties in their past but couldn’t cope with the situation they had to experience and broke down like my brother. He was four years older and couldn’t cope with the destiny of my parents who perished in Lublin-Majdanek. If you read the book about my brother Abbey you will understand my thoughts.



A – Did your brother have art in his life? Like you do?
Erich Heckel, Strassenszene an der Brucke, 1916, tempera on canvas, 50 x 70cm
Fig.5
M – No. He never had the chance and obviously he had a different character. I don’t know whether this was caused by his makeup or the circumstances.

A – Throughout your career you have known some incredibly influential art dealers.
Who out of all the dealers you ever dealt with, worked with, was the most influential to you?
M – I should have gone much more often to see Mr Beyeler in Basel… I would have undoubtedly bought from him more Art. All the collectors who followed him made the best choices. I was particularly suited for auction buying through my professional work.


A – But you have also mentioned Thomas Ammann in our other conversations? 
Jean Tinguely, Meta-Herbin 'Taxi', 1955, Iron support, metal rods and wire, 10 differently coloured metal elements, electric motor 220V, 148 x 50 x 50cm
Fig.6
M –Yes, he had an excellent taste and it is sad that he died so young. For one of the works I bought through him he called me one day at 9 am and said he had something very nice to show me. He brought over the artwork and gave me an hour to decide because he planned to fly at noon to New York and if I hadn’t bought it, he would have taken it with him. So I decided to buy it.
Both Thomas Ammann and Ernst Beyeler were the most talented gallerists. They had a fantastic eye and strangely enough both of them realised when time started to change to contemporary art. That art appeared in the 1950’s and 60’s presented by Lichtenstein, Warhol, Pollock etc. It was quite astounding I did not realise at the time Beyeler had exhibited Pollock, Jasper, Johns etc. All these Americans had appeared in the 1960’s and Thomas Ammann put together a beautiful collection with the help of his Schmidheiny friend. I think Thomas bought later their whole collection. I started with Fauvism as you saw and bought art from the whole century.
If you would ever come to Ascona you would see the more contemporary works in the collection and again I love abstract artists with much colour like Sam Francis, Bridget Riley, Joan Mitchell, Glarner etc.

A – So thinking about new collectors, and how the market has changed; it seems to me that the market is losing collectors who have these special relationships with artworks. Where collectors have a guardianship mentality, an awareness that they are the keeper of something special, an object that moves through time, and they make sure it is passed on in the correct manner to the 'right' place or person, that appreciates the work. How do you view this change from collectors like you to those who now buy art as an asset? 
 Joan Miro, L'espoir, 1946, oil on canvas. 58 x 58cm
Fig. 7
M – Unfortunately art has become also an investment vehicle. This is a big change in the last 10-15 years, with the prices going up and up. The art market started to attract people who wish to show their wealth as it became a financial instrument.

A – What does this mean for the future of art collecting do you think? 
M – It means that many people are not interested in the beauty. Much of the art that is bought today is not bought for it's beauty. I bought my paintings because they are beautiful, if your emotions take hold when you see a painting, that should be the reason why you buy one.
In buying and selling art in this manner, collectors who buy art as an asset do not have the love there for the works. For them it has just become a financial instrument. And that's it you see, the greatest tragedy for the art market was when art was seen as a financial instrument. 
 

A – So in the future do you think collectors relationships to Museums are going to change too? 
M – I guess so, yes.
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Madchen mit Katze, Franzi, 1910, oil on canvas, 88.5 x 119cm
Fig.8

A - If you could offer any advice to new collectors, starting to collect now what would it be? 
M – I think that they should collect by their own taste, by what they like, not by any other factors. And I would say to young people that there is plenty of beautiful art that doesn't cost very much at all. And most contemporary artists struggle to make a living.
A – They do, and the dealer mentality is the same as it always has been.
M – Yes, the problem with galleries now is that their expenses are so high, that they can't just take an unknown name, and this is the real problem. 
 
 Fernand Leger, Les deux disques dans la ville, 1919, oil on canvas, 65.5 x 54.3cm
Fig. 9

'The greatest tragedy for the art market was when art was seen as a financial instrument.'



A – Yes, I think this is negatively effecting the contemporary art market, and how artists feel they can even be artists. Most of them give up very quickly. 
M – 99.9% of them don't make a living. And less and less galleries are prepared to take a chance on an artist who may give up.
I guess the young people, they also may see generally life differently from me, maybe they see that in contemporary art the problems of our lives, in my art I see what I thought was the beauty of life. The nice things the more optimistic.

Young collectors should grow their knowledge and their tastes. It is important to distinguish what is important to you and what is not, and this should be reflected in the art people chose to live with.

Amedeo Modigliani, Jeanne Hebuterne assise, 1918, Oil on Canvas, 92 x 60.3cm
Fig.10


We would like to thank Mr Merzbacher for such insight and sharing his views and perspectives about his life and collection.
Fig. 5
Image details 
Fig. 1 - Frantisek Kupka, Forme de Jaune (Notre Dame), 1911, Oil on Canvas. 73 x 59.5cm
Fig. 2 - Andre Derain, Bateaux dans le Port de Collioure, 1905, oil on canvas, 72 x 91cm 
Fig. 3 -  Maurice de Vlaminck, La Seine a Pont de Chatou. 1905-06, oil on canvas, 54.5 x 74cm 
Fig. 4 - Maurice de Vlaminck, La danseuse du 'Rat Mort', 1905-6, Oil on Canvas, 77 x 65.5cm 
Fig 5. - Erich Heckel, Strassenszene an der Brucke, 1916, tempera on canvas, 50 x 70cm  
Fig. 6 - Jean Tinguely, Meta-Herbin 'Taxi', 1955, Iron support, metal rods and wire, 10 differently coloured metal elements, electric motor 220V, 148 x 50 x 50cm
Fig. 7 - Joan Miro, L'espoir, 1946, oil on canvas. 58 x 58cm 
Fig. 8 - Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Madchen mit Katze, Franzi, 1910, oil on canvas, 88.5 x 119cm 
Fig. 9 -  Fernand Leger, Les deux disques dans la ville, 1919, oil on canvas, 65.5 x 54.3cm 
Fig. 10 - Amedeo Modigliani, Jeanne Hebuterne assise, 1918, Oil on Canvas, 92 x 60.3cm