Surrealist collection with ‘pioneering’ interest in exiled and women artists heads to Christie’s

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Twenty-five works from a San Francisco Bay Area-based collection will be offered at Christie’s in London over the next couple of months.

Sourced over two decades, the collection was inspired by a trip to Mexico, where the (unnamed) couple were introduced to British-Mexican artist Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo’s widower by gallerist Wendi Norris. The encounter prompted a worldwide search for quality examples from key Surrealist names, including René Magritte, André Masson, Yves Tanguy, Óscar Domínguez and Dorothea Tanning.

“What’s extraordinary is the way in which the collection’s consideration of Surrealism aligns so closely to contemporary interest in the movement,” says Olivier Camu, Deputy Chairman, Impressionist and Modern Art at Christie’s, who notes that recent major shows of Surrealist art have been international in their scope, encompassing not only European but North and Latin American artists. Furthermore, there has been a particular focus on showing work by Surrealist women artists, with exhibitions at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and London’s Tate Modern in recent years, alongside the 2022 Venice Biennale’s The Milk of Dreams title, inspired by Leonora Carrington’s 1950s book.

Remedios Varo’s Retrato del Doctor Ignacio Chávez from 1957 (estimate £2.5m to £3.5m) a portrait of an established Mexican cardiologist which demonstrates the artist’s fascination with medicine, while Carrington’s 1960 work Quería ser pájaro (est. £900,000 to £1.4m) is a strong example of why her work is increasingly attracting attention. Works by Dorothea Tanning, Leonor Fini and Stella Snead are also on offer.

Later acquisitions made for the collection lean towards more “traditional” names from the art history canon, including the last work to be acquired, René Magritte’s Souvenir de Voyage 1958 (est. £2.5m to £3.5m).

The collection sale, entitled “Memory of a Surreal Journey: Property from an Important San Francisco Bay Area Collection”, has a presale estimate of £13m to £18m. Fifteen works will be included in an evening sale on 28 February, with the remaining ten will be included in a day sale on 3 March. The overarching Surrealist sale (the 22nd edition for the auction house) is expected to fetch between £28m and £40m.

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