Salvador Dali’s Universal Tarot, the 78 custom decks of tarot cards that the legendary Surrealist created, has an absurd story to tell. It was Hollywood producer Albert Broccoli who first commissioned the artist to make the decks to be used as a prop for the 1973 James Bond film, Live and Let Die. Though the contract did not last, the artwork attained posterity, and rightly so. Some works from the limited series of decks will now go under the hammer at AstaGuru’s upcoming International Iconic auction that showcases a special curation of works by iconic global artists, the likes of Renoir, Picasso, Matisse and Chagall to name a few. The collection is a tangible roadmap into Western art history while the auction is a “remarkable milestone” in AstaGuru’s own history.
The cover lot is more than a century old and comes from the coveted oeuvre of the pioneering Impressionist artist Pierre Auguste-Renoir. The work titled Baigneuse Assise or the Seated Bather (1915), was once in the collection of seminal novelist Somerset Maugham. Offering a birds-eye view into Henri Matisse’s famed Thèmes et Variations sequence of paintings will be Femme et Bouquets (1940), characterised by simple, unshaded lines.
“The starting point for the curation was to ensure that we offer works from those artists revered across the world and have forged an important place in the western art history,” says Siddhanth Shetty, vice president — business strategy and operations. “For instance, Pierre Auguste-Renoir, whose work is the cover lot of the catalogue, was an eminent figure of the Impressionist movement that was a poignant juncture in the evolution of modern art. Pablo Picasso is credited with spearheading the Cubist movement towards the mid-20th Century.”
Adding to the revered list is Pop Art stalwarts like Andy Warhol and Robert Indiana. Works by leading contemporary artists like Damier Hirst, Fernando Botero and Jeff Koons whose works are highly sought after, are also part of the showcase.
A 1969 canvas that shows Picasso’s use of wax crayons on paper is also part of the auction, considering 2023 marks Picasso’s 20th death anniversary. Marc Chagall’s recurring motif, the violin, will also make an appearance in Violoniste Au Village Enneigé that will go under the hammer. A 1983 canvas by Warhol is a deviation from his usual work that comments on the culture of consumerism: one of 20 paintings that he created in the 1980s featuring Poinsettia, emanating Christmas cheer.
Siddhanth says seasoned collectors in India are always passionate about diversifying their art collection. When it comes to the international art world, they are interested in exploring artists who pioneered important art movements as it enables them to acquire a piece of artistic history from the western perspective, he adds. “Artists who were instrumental in establishing the idiom of modern art in the 20th century, like Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Marc Chagall, are highly sought after among art collectors. When it comes to the pop art movement, artist Andy Warhol is an iconic name whose works can make any collection special,” he says.
International Iconic will be held from November 28, 10am to November 29, 8pm. All bidding will take place on www.astaguru.com.