Matisse bronze could fetch $35 million at auction

Mon Oct 4, 2010 11:24am EDT
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By Chris Michaud

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - A life-size bronze sculpture by Henri Matisse, which has never been sold at auction, is expected to be the star of the autumn art sales and could fetch up to $35 million, art experts said.

Matisse's "Back IV (Nu de Dos, 4eme etat)," circa 1930 is being sold at Christie's on November 3 by a private European collector, whom the auction house declined to name.

But Christie's said the owner recognizes the tremendous market opportunity for modern sculpture at this time.

"Conceived on an epic scale, Back IV is a powerfully reductive expression of the human form that stands as a milestone in the evolution of modernist style," said Conor Jordan, the head of Impressionist and Modern Art for Christie's Americas.

Another life-size sculpture, Alberto Giacometti's "Walking Man I," briefly became the most expensive work ever auctioned in February when it sold for more than $104 million.

Another Giacometti and a sculpture by Amedeo Modigliani each sold for more than $50 million this year.

Christie's is expected to announce the Matisse sale publicly this week.

The Matisse work is the last of a series of four sculptures that Jordan described as Matisse's most ambitious project, which the artist worked on for more than 20 years.   Continued...

<p>Bronze with dark brown patina by Henri Matisse is seen in a handout photo. REUTERS/Christie's/Handout</p>