Sale: 525 / Evening Sale, Dec. 10. 2021 in Munich Lot 121001957

Francis Picabia
La résistance (Marlene), 1942/43.
Oil on firm board
€ 250,000 - 350,000

$ 290,000 - 406,000

Lot description
La résistance (Marlene). 1942/43.
Oil on firm board.
Borras 756. Bottom right signed. 75 x 52 cm (29.5 x 20.4 in).

• Rediscovery of a to date unknown portrait of Marlene Dietrich.
• Picabia's art historically relevant photo-based paintings from the 1940s are extremely rare on the international auction market.
• Seminal work for Pop Art's photo-based celebrity portraits.
• Part of a German private collection since the 1970s.
• Tody other works from this period are in possession of, among others, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Centre Pompidou, Paris

PROVENANCE: Galerie Klewan, Munich (with the label on the reverse).
Private collection North Rhine-Westphalia (acquired from the above around 1977).

EXHIBITION: Francis Picabia, Städtische Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf, October 29 - December 4, 1983; Kunsthaus Zürich, February 3 - March 25, 1984; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, April 7 - May 27, 1984, cat. Düsseldorf/Zürich 1983, p. 131 (with black-and-white illu., with the label of the Kunsthaus Zürich and a shipping label to Düsseldorf on the reverse).

"Our heads are round so that thoughts can change direction."

Francis Picabia, quoted from: Francis Picabia. Funny Guy & Dada, Hamburg 2015, p. 90.

"Picasso was two years younger than Picabia, but would remain the more old-fashioned artist in many regards. [..] As is known, he disapproved of abstraction as much as he rejected ready-made, mechanic means of creation, especially in connection with photography."

Anne Umland, curator Museum of Modern Art, New York, quoted from: Francis Picabia, ex. cat. Kunsthaus Zürich / Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2016, p. 14.

"La résistance" – Rediscovery of a mysterious Marlene portrait

Our mysteriously withdrawn female portrait was also made during this time. Owing to the sitter‘s aloof androgyny, it emanates a very special aura. The catalog of the Picabia exhibition shown in Düsseldorf, Zurich and Stockholm in 1983/84 only reveals the following about our mysterious portrait, which comes from a German private collection and is now offered on the international auction market for the first time: "A portrait from 1941 (' La Résistance ') shows a mask-like face with an excessively high, arched forehead, proud and lost in reverie. The photo of a film star or a popular singer may have served him as model." (Page XLI). Once seen, the observer can hardly get the image of the mysterious stranger out of his head, as it attracts everyone's attention with its sovereignty and androgynous femininity, while leaving the agonizing question regarding her identity unanswered. It was the German celebrity Marlene Dietrich who relocated to Paris shortly before the war, trying to make her contribution in the fight against the Nazis by singing for the allied troops during the war. "La résistance" is the title of this special painting, for which we were able to identify a photograph shot by Laszlo Willinger from 1942 as the basis. It seems likely that Picabia probably became aware of the photo through an article about Marlene Dietrich published in Vogue. The article about Marlene Dietrich's engagement as a singer for the US troops was published in the July 1942 issue along with an article about "Gertrude Stein in France", which Picabia must have been aware of as he was a friend of the important patron of European Modernism. Willinger's photograph shows the famous German singer and actress, who to this day is celebrated as a kind of "goddess of androgyny" due to her unmistakable, emancipated style, in a white shirt blouse and black "Marlene trousers", staged in the strong spotlight with rich contrast. Picabia opts for a smaller, zoom-like image section that puts focus on the almost unreal facial features thus emphasizing the unique aura that surrounds the depicted lady.

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Buyer's premium, taxation and resale right apportionment for Francis Picabia "La résistance (Marlene)"
This lot can be purchased subject to differential or regular taxation.

Differential taxation:
Hammer prices up to € 500,000: 32 % buyer's premium
Hammer prices above € 500,000: for the share up to € 500,000: 32%, for the share above € 500,000: 27% buyer's premium
The buyer's premium contains VAT, however, it is not shown.

Regular taxation:
Hammer prices up to € 500,000: 25 % buyer's premium plus statutory sales tax Hammer prices above € 500,000: for the share up to € 500,000: 25%, for the share above € 500.000: 20% buyer's premium, each plus statutory sales tax

We kindly ask you to notify us before invoicing if you wish to be subject to regular taxation.

Resale right apportionment:
Objects made by artists who have not died at least 70 years ago are subject to a resale right apportionment of 2.4% including statutory sales tax.