Collectors of 20th-century design should mark April 26 in their diaries as a clutch of rare and influential works by the likes of Giacometti, Rateau and Prouvé will go to auction at Phillips in London at 6pm.
The impressive range of work in the 40-lot Modern Masters sale (viewings start from April 21) includes an exquisite white glazed porcelain Moon Jar (estimate £120,000-£180,000) by Young Sook Park, a South Korean artist with an international reputation for combining the long-lost artistic traditions of the Joseon dynasty with contemporary aesthetics. Also available will be a rare Gio Ponti coffee table (£35,000-£45,000) made from walnut, brass and glass.
But it is the larger lots that are likely to draw the largest amount of attention, such as an entire flatpack house by Jean Prouvé. Constructed from timber panels on a folded steel frame, the Demountable House (£700,000-£900,000) is one of many prefabricated buildings developed by the French architect and designer to help France house its population following the second world war.
Armand Albert Rateau’s sumptuous yet austere Dining Suite (£1m-£1.5m), meanwhile, is expected to be one of the sale’s star lots. Commissioned in the early 1930s to furnish a newly built house by architects Léon Fagnen and Réné Bétourné (Rateau was responsible for every aspect of the interior, from the furniture to the door pulls), the table is made from a single piece of Japanese ash resting on two pared-down pillars of Giallo d’Istria marble, while the front legs of each of the 12 cherrywood armchairs boast a handcarved embellishment. It is an eloquent articulation of Rateau’s take on modernism.
Another example of modernism’s more decorative face is Alberto Giacometti’s exuberant Conic Chandelier (£1.5m-£2.5m) made from plaster. The artist was commissioned to make lights for several friends in the late 1940s and early 1950s – and this one, created for Mr and Mrs Efstratios Tériades, is considered one of the best. It has already fetched a record price at auction and, with a major Giacometti retrospective opening at Tate Modern next month, it looks set to cause excitement in the sale room once again.