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Frantisek Kupka abstract painting owned by James Bond star expected to fetch more than £2m

The rare work by the Czech painter, titled Complexe, was acquired by the James Bond star in 2016

Naomi Clarke
Monday 20 February 2023 06:01 GMT
File. Sir Sean Connery owned the abstract painting that is now expected to fetch more than £2m when it makes its auction debut next month
File. Sir Sean Connery owned the abstract painting that is now expected to fetch more than £2m when it makes its auction debut next month (PA)

A painting by abstract artist Frantisek Kupka owned by the late Sir Sean Connery is expected to fetch more than £2m when it makes its auction debut next month.

The rare work by the Czech painter, titled Complexe, was acquired by the James Bond star in 2016 before he died in 2020 aged 90.

Within an estimate of £2,200,000 to £2,800,000 – the highest ever to be placed on a work by the artist at auction – the piece will go on sale on 1 March as part of Sotheby’s modern and contemporary evening event in London.

Proceeds from its sale will partially benefit The Connery Foundation, set up in 2022 to honour the Scottish actor’s legacy by giving grants to institutions and organisations in Scotland and the Bahamas.

Renowned for his acting, Sir Sean was also a passionate art collector, particularly favouring modern works of art by Picasso and Matisse.

Kupka – alongside Kazimir Malevich, Wassily Kandinsky, Hilma af Klint and Piet Mondrian – helped lay the foundations for abstract painting in the 20th century.

The artist himself resisted being directly associated with any particular movement, but he worked closely with artists who explored Cubism, Futurism and Fauvism.

Painted in 1912, Complexe is a combination of swirling colour and nebulous forms and was produced during the artistic period of the Parisian avant-garde, when artists were beginning to experiment with new modes of expression.

The piece was first exhibited at the Salon de la Section d’Or in Paris in 1912 and has since appeared in numerous exhibitions across Europe and Asia.

Originally gifted to the artist’s close friend, the poet and art critic Nicolas Beauduin, the work features a dedication to its first owner and was subsequently passed into the collection of his daughter, before later being acquired by Sir Sean.

Thomas Boyd-Bowman, head of the impressionist and modern art evening sales at Sotheby’s London, said: “One of the key artists credited with developing abstraction, Kupka’s place in the history of modern painting is finally being recognised by today’s top collectors.

“This groundbreaking early work is a superb example of the artist’s relentless exploration of motion, spirituality and colour through abstraction.

“To be able to present this extremely rare work at auction alongside seminal paintings by Kandinsky and Delaunay – contemporary pioneers of abstraction – will make for a thrilling juxtaposition.”

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