Lot 623: Magnificent series of original preliminary pencil sketches accomplished by Magritte on both sides of three off-white 5.25 x 8 sheets, no date but circa late 1950s. The sketches include one of a glass of water balanced atop an open umbrella, as seen in his 1957 work 'Hegel's Holiday,' and thirty-five separate renderings of bicycles atop various objects, as seen in his 1959 painting 'State of Grace.' In overall fine condition. Originates from the collection of art critic Suzi Gablik, who wrote a monograph on Magritte.
These sketches present a fascinating look into Magritte's creative process in painting his famous surrealist works. The singular non-bicycle sketch is a near-exact match to 'Les vacances de Hegel [Hegel's Holiday],' which arose from Magritte's desire to 'show a glass of water in a painting in such a way that it would not be indifferent.' In one of his letters to Gablik, Magritte described his process: 'I began by drawing many glasses of water, always with a linear mark on the glass. This line, after the 100th or 150th drawing, widened out and finally took the form of an umbrella.' This progression-including the light vertical line passing through the center-is discernible in this sketch. Directly to the left of the umbrella sketch are the two most complete versions of 'L'etat de grace [The State of Grace],' both of which show a bicycle on top of a lit cigar; the primary difference between these two sketches and Magritte's final painting is the absence of cigar bands in the center. More sketches of the bike-on-cigar are present among the numerous others in addition to variations with objects replacing the cigar, such as leaves, a matchstick, doves, a fish, and a stocking-adorned mantlepiece. The most experimental and surreal examples show the bicycle alone but with human hands instead of handlebars and feet instead of pedals. Featuring a multitude of Magritte's imaginative sketches for two of his famous works, these pages are of tremendous artistic interest.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs & Artifacts
Friday, 23rd October 2015
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