Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948), Ohne Titel (Gute Laune), circa 1945. Oil and collage on board. 24⅞ x 19⅞ (63.2 x 50.6 cm). Estimate £160,000-240,000. Offered in the Impressionist and Modern Art Day

Art for Future: Selected works from the UniCredit Group

A selection of UniCredit’s artworks will be offered as a highlight of the Impressionist and Modern Art sales in London in February. The proceeds will be used to support the Group’s Social Impact Banking (SIB) and other relevant initiatives, including the support of emerging artists

In October 2019, selected artworks from the UniCredit Group were offered as part of Frieze Week at Christie’s in London. They included standout pieces by Gerhard RichterYves KleinErnst Wilhelm NayAndreas GurskyEnrico CastellaniSam Francis and Nam June Paik, among others. More than 100 works were then offered in Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Sales in Amsterdam in late November.

On 6 February 2020, a further selection from the UniCredit Group will be offered in the Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale and Impressionist and Modern Works on Paper at Christie’s in London. UniCredit will also look to replace the masterpieces sold with works of young and emerging artists. 

Walter Dexel (1890-1973), Segelschiff I, 1922. Oil on burlap. 28⅜ x 21⅝ (72.1 x 55.1 cm). Estimate £200,000-300,000. Offered in the Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale on 6 February 2020 at Christie’s in London
Walter Dexel (1890-1973), Segelschiff I, 1922. Oil on burlap. 28⅜ x 21⅝ (72.1 x 55.1 cm). Estimate: £200,000-300,000. Offered in the Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale on 6 February 2020 at Christie’s in London

Highlights from the UniCredit Group

Leading the Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale selection is Segelschiff I  (above), a 1922 painting by Walter Dexel (1890-1973). This  superb example of Dexel’s distinct Constructivist idiom dates from a key period when the artist, who was Art Director at the Art Union in Jena, Germany, came into close contact with a network of artists and intellectuals including Jean (Hans) Arp, Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Kurt Schwitters and El Lissitzky; artists associated with the Bauhaus movement, such as Paul Klee, László Moholy-Nagy and Walter Gropius; along with De Stijl artists, including Théo van Doesburg, with whom Dexel developed a close friendship.

Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948), Ohne Titel (Gute Laune), circa 1945. Oil and collage on board. 24⅞ x 19⅞ (63.2 x 50.6 cm). Estimate £160,000-240,000. Offered in the Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale on 6 February 2020 at Christie’s in London
Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948), Ohne Titel (Gute Laune), circa 1945. Oil and collage on board. 24⅞ x 19⅞ (63.2 x 50.6 cm). Estimate: £160,000-240,000. Offered in the Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale on 6 February 2020 at Christie’s in London

A work by a member of Dexel’s circle — Kurt Schwitters’ Ohne Titel (Gute Laune), circa 1945, above — dates from the period when the artist was living in London, and attempting to integrate himself with the avant-garde of the city. 

The piece combines delicately painted geometric shapes, organic abstract forms and collage elements. In December 1944, the English art historian Herbert Read had announced Schwitters (1887-1948) as ‘the supreme master of the collage’ after the artist’s solo exhibition at the Modern Art Gallery. 

 

Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948), Mz 221. Dramatik, executed in 1921. Fabric, gouache, card and paper collage on paper. 5¼ x 4⅛ in (13.3 x 10.5 cm). Estimate £100,000-150,000. Offered in Impressionist and Modern Works on Paper on 6 February 2020 at Christie’s in London
Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948), Mz 221. Dramatik, executed in 1921. Fabric, gouache, card and paper collage on paper. 5¼ x 4⅛ in (13.3 x 10.5 cm). Estimate: £100,000-150,000. Offered in Impressionist and Modern Works on Paper on 6 February 2020 at Christie’s in London

Leading the selection offered in the Works on Paper  sale is Mz 221. Dramatik, above, also by Schwitters. ‘Merz’, a made-up word which takes its name from a fragment of the words ‘Kommerz und Privatbank’, was an artistic revolution in which art and life were to be merged through the ‘business’ of assembling fragments and detritus of modern life into new glorified forms and expressions.

This early ‘Merz’ collage was executed in 1921, a time of hyper-inflation, revolution and counter-revolution in Germany following the end of the First World War. In an era when paper currency had lost its value, Schwitters could be found picking up scraps from the streets of Hanover and incorporating them into constellations that expressed this new formal language.

October’s selection from the UniCredit Group was led by Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild, dating to 1984, a pivotal year in the artist’s career. The work, which was offered in the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction on 4 October, sold for £7,016,250.

Other notable highlights included Yves Klein’s Sculpture-éponge bleue sans titre, (SE 244), one of the artist’s pioneering sponge sculptures from 1959, which realised £1,571,250; and Richter’s Wiese (Meadow) (1983), an exquisite example of his celebrated photo-realist German landscapes from the 1980s, which sold for £3,371,250.



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Proceeds from the sales will primarily be used to support the further roll-out of the Group’s Social Impact Banking initiatives. The remaining balance will be dedicated to other relevant projects, including the support of emerging artists.

Fernand Léger (1881-1955), Composition à la feuille, 1926. Oil on canvas. 18⅛ x 15⅛ (46 x 38.3 cm). Estimate £80,000-120,000. Offered in the Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale on 6 February 2020 at Christie’s in London

Fernand Léger (1881-1955), Composition à la feuille, 1926. Oil on canvas. 18⅛ x 15⅛ (46 x 38.3 cm). Estimate: £80,000-120,000. Offered in the Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale on 6 February 2020 at Christie’s in London

Social Impact Banking is part of UniCredit’s commitment to building a fairer and more inclusive society, and seeks to identify, finance and promote people and companies that can have a positive social impact. 

As well as continuing to provide credit to projects and organisations not usually served by the traditional banking sector, UniCredit employees educate micro-entrepreneurs, social enterprises and vulnerable or disadvantaged groups, building valuable networks within our communities.