Anticomania, at the Kugel Gallery

24/9/10 – Art market – Paris, Galerie J. Kugel – No amount of superlatives could begin to convey the quality of the exhibition currently showing at the Kugel Gallery in its private hôtel on the Quai Anatole France. This is due partly to the impressive décor designed by Pier-Luigi Pizzi, with the high point being the immense rotunda, but which serves simply as a backdrop to set off an ensemble of exceptional objects. It is in fact rare to see such an assembly of major works, often with prestigious provenances, most of which would make any museum jealous and indeed, we would very much hope that some of these pieces might end up in French public collections.

The catalogue, unfortunately, only presents about twenty objects, the most important ones. Except for this selection, anything which is sold will be replaced immediately with something else and we would advise art lovers to go there as soon as possible and perhaps return in the hopes of seeing even more as new works are presented.
The title, Anticomania, is very direct : the idea is to exhibit works from Antiquity, or at least inspired therein. Visitors will find bronzes as well as marbles, ceramics and cameos, paintings or mosaics, all of the finest quality.

One of the most remarkable objects was bought at the Bergé-Saint Laurent auction (ill. 1). Attributed at the sale as being from Primaticcio’s circle, it has since then been identified as a work founded under his supervision for Francis I. Six of these bronzes, produced after the antique, still reside at Fontainebleau. This one does not have a known antique model and it is perhaps a design created by Primatice himself. After the changes in the park in 1718, the head disappeared only to surface in Pierre Crozat’s collection. Following several mishaps in the 18th and 19th centuries, it was then in England before being acquired by Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent. It had long since lost its attribution and was considered to be from Antiquity.

1. Double Head
Cast by Primaticcio for the château
of Fontainebleau c. 1550-1570
Bronze - H. 56 cm
Paris, Galerie J. Kugel
Photo : Galerie J. Kugel

2. Laocoön
Bronze from Louis XIV’s collection
H. 46.5 cm
Paris, Galerie J. Kugel
Photo : Galerie J. Kugel

Another sculpture which particularly stands out is a bronze : this is a modern replica, around 1680-1685, of the famous piece from Antiquity, the Borghese Gladiator, attributed to Joseph Vinache after a comparison with a similar version held at Versailles in the Queen’s Grove. We also point out another bronze, much smaller but with a prestigious provenance : a Laocoön (ill. 2) from Louis XIV’s collection who received it from André Lenôtre. It was last seen in 1868 at the château de Saint Cloud before disappearing for over a century.
We will not mention the objects from Antiquity which do not fall under The Art Tribune’s chronological field, but there are also many of them, of very high quality, such as a valuable sard vase, probably a Roman piece from the 1st century A.D.

Anticomania, Galerie J. Kugel, 25 quai Anatole France, 75007 Paris. Tel : 0142608623. Exhibition from 14 September to 18 December 2010


Didier Rykner, vendredi 24 septembre 2010

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