LA Arts: Unique Karl Lagerfeld Mirror Leads Bonhams Modern Design Art Auction

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On March 25th Bonhams Los Angeles will hold a two-part Modern Design | Art auction featuring an extensive offering of exceptional works, with a rare, monumental mirror previously owned by Karl Lagerfeld leading the sale.


Created by renowned French designer and metalworker Gilbert Poillerat in 1948, this mirror has a provenance as unique as the object itself.

Gilbert Poillerat (1902-1988), Rare Mirror circa 1948, patinated and parcel gilt wrought iron and mirrored glass, height: 63 ½ in, width: 30 in, Estimate: $30,000 - 50,000.

Following its time in Lagerfeld's Paris studio, it was later acquired by the Pruskin Gallery and subsequently entered a private collection in California. Stylistically, the mirror is a wrought-iron masterpiece, framed with gold drapery and curvaceous branch details, spiked with a golden sun. It is estimated at $30,000 to 50,000.

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In addition to the mirror, the sale is filled with a richly curated collection of art and design objects representing the key movements in modern design over the last 150 years, including Arts and Crafts, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Art Moderne, Mid-Century Modern, and Studio Design in additional to a selection of works on paper by highly sought after modern and contemporary Latin American artists.

Bonhams Director of Modern Decorative Art and Design Jason Stein said: "This curated sale of furniture, fine art, and decorative objects covers a wide range of modern design movements throughout the history of the 20th and 21st centuries. The rare Poillerat mirror previously owned by Karl Lagerfeld is among the most special and historically significant wrought-iron works we have come across in 20th century French metalwork – massive in scale, intricately beautiful, and with the finest provenance."

From left to right – Tiffany Studios (1899-1930), Crab inkwell, circa 1902, Estimate: $7,000 – 9,000; Dirk Van Erp (1860 – 1933), Warty Vase, circa 1912, hammered and patinated copper with closed box mark, height: 7 ½ in, Estimate: $6,000 - 8,000.

The Arts and Crafts movement originated in the British Isles in the 1880s before spreading internationally throughout Europe and the United States at the turn of the 20th century.

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This design movement, rooted in traditional notions of handmade craftsmanship, is the earliest period of design represented in the sale. Among the highlights are a Tiffany Studios inkwell cast in the shape of a crab, with a body that opens and a seashell lid (estimated at $7,000 to 9,000) and a hammered "warty" vase designed by American artisan Dirk Van Erp in 1912 (estimated at $6,000 to 8,000).

From left to right – Fulvio Bianconi (1915-1996), Pezzato Vase, 1951, Estimate: $5,000 – 7,000; George Nelson High Action Office Architect's Desk, 1964, Estimate: $2,000 – 3,000.

Also among the highlights are stellar objects from the Mid-Century Modern era, with a substantial grouping of furniture, including an Architect's Desk designed by George Nelson. This piece, estimated at $2,000 to 3,000, features the quintessential smoothly curved edges characteristic of the time. 

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Also originating from the Mid-Century period is a striking pezzato vase by the Italian Murano glass artist, Fulvio Bianconi, known for his playful use of color. This whimsical object, composed of clear, red, green, and blue tesserae panels, is a striking example of Bianconi's work for Venini. It is estimated at $5,000 to 7,000.

From left to right – Wifredo Lam (1902-1982), Untitled, 1957, Estimate: $10,000 – 15,000; Leonora Carrington (1917- 2011), Study for The Chrysopeia of Mary the Jewess, circa 1965, Estimate: $4,000 – 6,000; Leonora Carrington (1917-2011), Chipmunks Commuting (About to Commune), Estimate: $5,000 – 7,000.

In addition to the robust design selection, the auction offers a wide range of fine art, including an outstanding section of unique works by Latin American artists. Among the highlights is Wifredo Lam's Untitled, a 1957 drawing that beautifully pulls together varying elements of the artist's classic stylistic cadences, fusing Cubist and Surrealist techniques in a playfully geometric composition.

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A standout in the market over the last several years, Lam's unique style and Afro-Cuban influence set him apart from many of his contemporaries, and Untitled is an excellent opportunity to acquire one of his original works at an accessible price point.

Additional highlights from this portion of the sale include two works by British-born Mexican artist Leonora Carrington, known for her mesmerizing Surrealist artwork and her involvement in the women's liberation movement in Mexico during the 1970s.

Carrington, who passed away just a decade ago, was one of the longest-lived yet underappreciated Surrealists, and her work is represented in some of the most prestigious institutional collections, including The Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Tate in London.

Two of four Carrington works included in this sale, Study for The Chrysopeia of Mary the Jewess and Chipmunks Commuting (About to Commune) are both imbued with her signature dreamlike overtones incorporating religious iconography and animals, two defining themes within her oeuvre.

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