Françoise Gilot, Tamara de Lempicka and Suzanne Valadon (see lot 22), established themselves in the cosmopolitan and fiercely competitive city of Paris, and early in their careers often held the multiple positions of artist, muse and model. Resilient and dedicated, each with very different characters, they each convey an unwavering and unique artistic vision that has ensured their places in the forefront of 20th century art.
Both Gilot and Lempicka, represented in the two following works, having been both witnesses and active participants in the fervent beginnings of Modernism in Europe, later, moved to New York, where they came into contact with oneanother. Both Soleil et Récifs and Composition were created during the early 1960s when they both inhabited this city and display their respective explorations of abstraction. Lempicka, took an immediate liking to fiercely intelligent Gilot and after Lempicka’s death in 1980, Gilot wrote of her in The Arts and Antiques Magazine:
“From the glow in her eyes to the rapid tempo of her movements, she radiated power, energy and determination… The first quality of an artist is to be intelligent, she’d say, coming closer to me and probing deep into my eyes with a hypnotic stare.“
Heavily influenced by her Cubist peers, most notably André Lhote (see lots 37-38), Tamara de Lempicka is best known for her distinctive portraits which have become synonymous with the Art Deco aesthetic. Composition abstraite was painted as part of a series of abstract works undertaken in 1959 – 1960. This series represented a change of approach for the artist, when her painting developed in a formalist, painterly trajectory, engaging with pure form through intersecting colour planes in contrast with the sleek, luminous and armoured portraits so often associated with her oeuvre.