René Magritte's 'La folie Almayer' will be auctioned at Bonhams Impressionist & Modern sale on Thursday 2 March, London New Bond St. The work will be on show at Bonhams Brussels office, Boulevard Saint-Michel 101, until Friday 3 February.
Magritte's La folie Almayer (1959), estimated at £300,000-500,000, is a variant of the eponymous oil painted in 1951. The present work was commissioned by Barnet Hodes (a Chicago lawyer and keen patron of Surrealist art) in July 1959 and was one of eight gouaches painted by Magritte for him that year alone. Hodes set out to own a gouache version of each of Magritte's most iconic paintings and with them created what became known as 'The Magritte wall' in his apartment.
Of the 1951 La folie Almayer oil, Magritte wrote, "My periodic creative crisis is now over, having just been resolved by finding the solution to the picture of the feudal root... By representing the root on a plain background, pleasure is achieved." Though Magritte tended to use more narrative settings, this two dimensional colour field setting served to increase the sense of dislocation that the artist sought in his work.
Magritte represented everyday objects in unexpected ways in an effort to return to a child-like sense of wonder, or, in his words, "to make the most familiar objects scream aloud". He often asked a friend to name a work in order to support that sense of inconsistency. For this work he asked the Surrealist poet Louis Scutenaire to come up with a name. He chose the title of Joseph Conrad's first novel, Almayer's Folly, a tale of pirates and smugglers set in the jungle of Borneo. In French the word folie can be defined as either folly or madness, further disrupting any logical understanding of the painting.
'La folie Almayer' will be on show at Bonhams Brussels office, Boulevard Saint-Michel 101, Monday - Friday 10.00 - 17.30 (closed daily 12.30 – 13.30), until Friday 3 February. It will then be offered in Bonhams Impressionist & Modern sale in London, New Bond St on Thursday 2 March.