The Fontaine Stravinsky (1983) – an assemblage of whirring and spinning contraptions by Jean Tinguely and monumental, brashly vibrant creatures by his then-wife, Niki de Saint Phalle – is, in the present day, a beloved Parisian landmark. But few of the thousands and thousands of vacationers who cross via the Place Stravinsky en path to the Pompidou shall be conscious that the sculpture is related with the experimental Institute for Analysis and Coordination in Acoustics/Music (IRCAM), whose workplaces prolong out beneath the basin of the fountain. Fewer nonetheless will know that this whimsical, carnivalesque group of sculptures have been first prompt to the Metropolis of Paris by IRCAM’s founding director, the irascible composer and conductor Pierre Boulez.
At Artcurial in Paris, 12 exceptional sketches setting out Tinguely’s plans for the Fontaine Stravinsky – every addressed ‘cher Pierre’, with little ideas and explanations within the sculptor’s spidery hand creeping around the margins – go on sale on 7 June. They’re a part of a sale devoted to the gathering of Boulez – an interesting window on the thoughts of a musician who has turn out to be, within the public creativeness, an iconoclast par excellence. Within the phrases of his early instructor on the Conservatoire de Paris, Olivier Messiaen, Boulez was ‘in revolt in opposition to all the things’. He was militant in opposition to any music that smacked of reliance on the traditions of earlier eras: ‘Do, act, and above all, don’t reproduce,’ he mentioned. With masterpieces like Le Marteau sans maître (1955) or Pli selon pli (1960), Boulez sought to abjure tonal or rhythmic legal guidelines – or maybe extra particularly, invent his personal so as then to interrupt them.
All of this has led some to consider Boulez as a dogmatist. And but, the artistic endeavors he held on his partitions reveal, as a substitute, the composer’s fanciful, looking aspect. That is encapsulated by a David Hockney postcard depicting Richard Wagner, his face refracted via a glass of water set on high of his visage in an MC Escher-like piece of trompe l’oeil – the po-faced composer, disarmed by a little bit of levity and silliness. Not dissimilar is Jean Cocteau’s little ink on paper sketch of Stravinsky enjoying The Ceremony of Spring – extra quietly amused tinkerer than composer infected with the fervour of creation. It’s up for €4,000–€5,000; a extra sombre pencil on paper portrait of Stravinsky, by Alberto Giacometti, is estimated at €30,000–€40,000, however you possibly can’t assist feeling that, maybe unsurprisingly, there’s much more right here of Giacometti than there may be of Stravinsky.
Boulez owned a captivating watercolour, Tête créatrice (1917) by Paul Klee, whose work Boulez described as a ‘lesson in composition’, and prints by Klee, Kandinsky and Miró – painters whom he credited, alongside Schoenberg or Debussy, as being ‘on the root of all modernity’. However he additionally took an curiosity within the visible artists of his personal period – a lot of whom additionally understood themselves as dwelling within the shadow of the Second World Battle, and beneath the spell of existentialist philosophy. (‘Historical past is what one makes it,’ Boulez as soon as mentioned, in phrases which may simply as simply have been Jean-Paul Sartre’s.) Francis Bacon grew to become an vital touchstone – he met the artist in London within the Seventies, and bought signed and dated lithographs of his well-known Second Model of Triptych (1944), and of certainly one of his research of Pope Harmless X, after Velázquez. Boulez owned two early drawings by Philip Guston, and a variety of works by Nouvelle École de Paris artists – together with the unique ink-and-watercolour (1958) produced by Zao Wou-Ki for the quilt of Les Concert events du Domaine Musical, an album of works carried out by one of many many societies Boulez based (€20,000–€30,000).
This sale is a world away from the choices in New York earlier this month. There, the gathering of Boston real-estate developer Gerald Fineberg may soak up $124.7m at Christie’s and be described by one critic as ‘a surprisingly low consequence’ – a part of a broader story of lacklustre gross sales which have led to ideas that the market in New York is likely to be cooling finally. Right here, the highest lot is Vieira da Silva’s oil-on-canvas Hiver (1983), a lovely rendition of timber shivering within the frosty air, bearing an estimate of €80 000–€120,000; there are works on sale for as little as €100. However as an perception into the way in which that the composer thought, it’s akin to the expertise described by soprano Barbara Hannigan of working with Boulez on Pli selon Pli – ‘each efficiency was the uncovering of a jewel.’