Aguttes Contemporary Art Auction in Paris Led by French Expressionist Painters Bernard Buffet and Wang Yancheng

Bernard Buffet and Georges Mathieu: contemporary artists who disrupt trends

Bernard Buffet (1928-1999) and Georges Mathieu (1921-2012), two key figures in French painting at the beginning of the 20th century, have experienced a belated or even posthumous rehabilitation on the contemporary art market and at auction.

Belonging to the same generation, they followed very different paths and embodied expressionism and lyrical abstraction respectively. Two pictorial movements that marked a split in the painting of the immediate post-war period.

a. Bouquet of Anemones, 1985

Oil on isorel
Price realized: €44,200


At a time when everyone swore by abstraction, Bernard Buffet's figurative style, described as "miserabilist," struggled to establish itself. His aesthetic of self-pity, a reflection of the atmosphere of the early 1950s, was already distinguished at that time by the black, sharp strokes characteristic of his work. It was not until 2016 that two Parisian exhibitions marked the artist's return to favor.

b. Church of Landerneau, 1968

Oil on canvas
Price realized: €84,500


Georges Mathieu's lyrical abstraction, with its unmistakable style, made him known as the central figure of this movement. However, the popularization of his work, transposed onto the 10 franc coin or the Antenne 2 logo, has long rubbed off on the quality of his work and the strength of his performances. His triumphant return to New York for an exhibition in 2019 and the interest of the Asian market have revived his unjustly low price.

In 2020, the Aguttes house distinguished itself with several exceptional results proving that Bernard Buffet and Georges Mathieu are regaining the consideration they deserve. For example, a painting by Georges Mathieu, Et les siècles obscurs devant moi se découvrent (c), achieved the sixth best result in the world for the artist with a bid of €603,320. Or works by Bernard Buffet, such as Église de Landerneau (b) and Bouquet d'anémones (a), sold for €84,500 and €44,200 respectively.

The recognition of these artists on the art market rewards the quality, inventiveness and consistency of their work. According to Aguttes’ specialist Ophélie Guillerot, their revival is part of a more global rediscovery of post-war vintage art.

c. And the dark centuries before me are uncovered, circa 1986 -1988

Alkyd on canvas
Price realized: €603,320


The melancholic expressionism of Bernard Buffet

The upcoming sale of the Contemporary Art department will again feature two paintings by Bernard Buffet on May 18. The Rabbits and Cherries in a Fruit Bowl, perfectly capture his aesthetic of self-pity. These two works also display all of the typical characteristics of Buffet's work: the sharp strokes that would never leave him, the use of ocher colors and the still life subjects.

Bernard Buffet (1928-1999), Cherries in a Fruit Bowl

Painted in 1957
Oil on canvas, signed and dated on the right
Dimensions: 54 x 65 cm
Estimate: €60,000 - 80,000


Bernard Buffet (1928-1999), The Rabbits

Painted in 1961
Oil on canvas, signed and dated lower left
Signed and annotated on the back "Pour Luc Noel Bernard, Bonne année 1978 B. B."
Dimensions: 81 x 130 cm
Estimate: €40,000 - 60,000


Wang Yancheng, Qiu Deshu, Liu Xiaodong: China's contemporary scene asserts itself 

The works of three of the most prominent artists in the Chinese contemporary scene will also be presented at auction on May 18. Among the selection, three works by Wang Yancheng (b.1960), a major figure in contemporary lyrical abstraction, will catch the eye of collectors. The artist's precise strokes and gestures are reminiscent of Chinese calligraphy, yet the freedom of this uninhibited art is closer to the Western cultural inspirations. Each one is revealed through successive layers of paint, both fluid and textured, offering depth and an irregular surface.

Wang Yancheng (b.1960), Composition

Painted in 2007
Oil on canvas, signed and dated lower right
Dimensions: 120 x 120 cm

  • Galerie Trigano, Paris - Private collection, Paris

Estimate: €70,000 - 90,000


Wang Yancheng (b.1960), Untitled 

Painted in 2003
Oil on canvas, signed and dated lower right, countersigned and dated on back
Dimensions: 100 x 100 cm
Estimate: €30,000 - 50,000


Wang Yancheng (b.1960), Untitled 

Painted in 2003
Oil on canvas, signed lower right, dated and countersigned on the back
Dimensions: 61 x 81 cm
Estimate: €20,000 - 30,000


Liu Xiadong's Police Car with Pigeons expresses the artist's ability to capture a particular moment and communicate its essence to the viewer.

Liu Xiaodong (b.1963), Police car with pigeons

Painted in 1993
Oil on canvas, signed, located New York, titled and dated on the back
Dimensions: 25 x 20 cm
Estimate: €25,000 - 35,000


Qiu Deshu (b.1948), a painter from the Mao era in China, will be present with this piece, Autumn rhythms, combining a very accomplished technique in the mastery of paper and material effects on the one hand, and a Chinese cloudy and mountainous landscape on the other.

Qiu Deshu (b.1948), Autumn rhythms

Acrylic on paper mounted on canvas, signed lower left
Dimensions: 199 x 276 cm

  • Acquired by the current owner from Leda Fletcher Gallery, Shanghai, June 2007

Estimate: €30,000 - 50,000

Auction Details:

Auction house: Aguttes Neuilly 
Sale: Contemporary Art
Date: May 18, 2021 | 4pm (Paris time)
Venue: 164 bis avenue Charles-de-Gaulle, Neuilly-sur-Seine, Paris, France

Head of department:
Ophélie Guillerot: +33 (0)1 47 45 93