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Toyen (1902–1980) Puis, Plus Tard

mixed media (oil, sand) on canvas
1950
lower right
42 × 127 cm
frame

Starting price15,000,000 CZK Final price37,440,000 CZK

Puis, Plus Tard (Then, Later), a poetic canvas of exceptional quality, comes from the post-war phase of Toyen’s work, i.e. the period when she had already permanently settled in Paris and was involved in the surrealist group alongside André Breton, Jindřich Heisler, and Benjamin Péret. Her first significant work executed in Paris was a series of drawings entitled Neither Wings Nor Stones: Wings and Stones, which contained much of the iconography she would use over the following decades, including the elements of the presented work: stone, leaf, bird, and the Sun, and reflecting the Parisian surrealist group’s interest in alchemy. This cycle was of fundamental importance to the further work of this prominent personality of modern art. Some subjects from it provided her with the main thematic source for further work, and she returned to them during the 1950s and 1960s in several separate drawings and paintings. The same applies to the featured work Puis, Plus Tard. The motif of birds with linked beaks can be found in one ink drawing that is related to this cycle and dates from 1949, which was published in the artist’s monograph (Karel Srp: Toyen, Prague, 2000, p. 205, fig. No. 274). In the aforementioned cycle, Toyen works with several formal approaches that are important to her, which are later reflected in her paintings. These are the frequent use of symmetry, mirroring, and reflection. In Puis, Plus Tard, there is a kind of mirroring or axial symmetry of birds connected by a glowing orange-red elemental mass. The mirroring of colours is also interesting; the green feathers of the bird on the left side are reflected in the colour of the background, but also in the colour of the eye and beak of the other bird, and vice versa. The mirroring, therefore, takes place in contraposition, as in the Chinese philosophical concept of yin and yang, which, from an etymological point of view, means light and darkness and describes opposite but interconnected forces. The presented painting is considered an extremely rare discovery of the work of this world-renowned artist, which has not yet appeared in any of her major solo exhibitions, and therefore has not even been published in any of her monographs. Toyen had a number of collectors in Latin America, where the work was originally taken after purchase. It was thus only exhibited at her solo exhibition at the À l'Étoile scellée gallery in Paris (5.–30. May 1953, cat. No. 10) and its only reproduction can be found in Robert Benayoun’s book (Erotic du surréalisme, 1978, p .176, under the title Rencontre). Assessed during consultations by prof. J. Zemina and PhDr. J. Machalický. The expertise of PhDr. K. Srp is attached.

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