The 2015 edition of the International Contemporary Art Fair at Paris’ Grand Palais may end on Sunday October 25, but the temptations continue for discerning international collectors. On Tuesday October 27, French auction house Artcurial is hosting Design Masterpieces, a sale that includes a 20-piece section that Emmanuel Bérard, Artcurial’s director of design, is calling an “Ideal Collection” of 20th- and 21st-century furniture and lighting. He acknowledges the description to be highly subjective, but “each of these 20 pieces has a special place in the history of design,” he reasons. With this selection, he hopes to set new auction records for modern and midcentury design.
The signs are positive. Last year, for example, Artcurial was the first house to hold a solo Ron Arad sale, and achieved the world record for the Israeli designer’s work at auction. Arad’s Big Easy patinated steel chair (estimate €80,000-€120,000) is part of the “Ideal Collection” line-up.
Others in the spotlit collection of 20 include Charlotte Perriand’s 1952 Maison du Mexique bookcase (€80,000-€120,000, first picture), designed to divide living spaces and bathrooms at the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris. Artcurial has also sourced a pair of Perriand’s original raised ceramic-covered concrete feet, previously attached to the university floors – a rare discovery that “changes the proportions, improves the stability and gives a new perspective to the piece,” says Bérard.
A second Perriand bookshelf – this time a wall-mounted shelf that has been in the Prouvé family since its creation around 1950 in the Ateliers Jean Prouvé – recalls the long-held creative relationship between the two seminal French designers, who worked on so many projects together, from Parisian architecture to modern furniture editions.
Elsewhere of note, Oeuf by Jean Royère (€20,000-€30,000), a floral upholstered children’s chair dating from 1955, is one of only two examples in the world. A super-sized Jean Prouvé table, Trapèze (from €500,000) was the teachers’ table from the refectory hall at former Paris university halls of residence Cité U d’Anthony. Midcentury classics include a rare Finn Juhl Bone leather chair (€80,000-€100,000, fourth picture) and a large hanging lamp by Ettore Sottsass from 1957 (€50,000-€70,000, third picture), while more modern offerings include Marc Newson’s Orgone Stretch Lounge (€400,000-€500,000, second picture), a mirror-polished chaise longue from an edition of six.