On October 20th, Sotheby's will present its strongest-ever sale in Contemporary Arab and Iranian art, which not only offers cohesive and representative work by Lebanese, Syrian and Iraqi modern masters and major pieces by Iranian and Egyptian artists with outstanding provenance, but also showcases an impressive selection of young cutting-edge work.
One of the most important works in the Modern Art component of the sale is Egyptian artist Abdel Hadi El-Gazzar's (1925-1966) oil on board, Beach Dream (Lot 17), which was executed in 1957 and comes from the Collection of Dr Khalid Massoud. This spectacular painting was commissioned by the highly influential Egyptian Professor of Fine Arts, Dr Hussein Amin, on the occasion of his nephew Dr Ali Massoud's wedding to Hanya Fawzy, daughter of the former Foreign Minister, Mahmoud Fawzy, in 1957.
Another highlight of Modern art is Iranian artist Sohrab Sepehri's Untitled (From the Tree Trunks Series)(Lot 27), the largest and most significant work by the artist ever to come to auction. This work was a personal commission by a member of the late Shah's cabinet, the former minister of Mohammadreza Shah Pahlavi, from Sohrab Sepehri in 1976. Two years after it was painted, it was relocated first to London and then to the United States, remaining in private hands since.
The sale is also set to include the oil on canvas Untitled (Lot 22) by Fateh Moudarres, dated 1966, which is one of the finest of Moudarres' works; recalling the aesthetics of the ancient civilisations of the region where the artist resurrects the Sumerian and Babylonian statues.
The sale includes an exceptional group of paintings by Egyptian artist Mahmoud Said. The artist's oil on panel L'Endormie (The Dreamer) (Lot 16), 1933, is a magnificent painting and the largest of Said's nudes to come to auction. First in the major collection of Hussein Sirri Pasha (1894-1960), the painting was then acquired by the famous Egyptian architect and Professor of Beaux Art at Fouad (now Cairo) University, Antoine Nahas in the early 1950s before making its way into a private collection after Nahas' death in 1966.. Its sale at Sotheby's represents the first time the portrait has been on public display since the early 1950s.
The sale also includes a group of four further works by Mahmoud Said, which come from the collection of Dr. ElKayem and appear on the market for the very first time since they were executed by the artist. Through the course of his life, Dr. Elkayem befriended aspiring and established Middle-Eastern artists, including Lebanese painters Seif and Adham Wanly, and renowned Egyptian modern artist Mahmoud Said.
Highlighting Dr. Elkayem's collection is Mahmoud Said's oil on canvas Nu au Collier de Perles (Nude with a Pearl Choker) (Lot 13), dated 1951-1957. Mahmoud Said's work came to epitomise the complexity of dealing with his own individual desires and the values of his society. These contradictions can be seen in all of his works ranging from stunning and poetic landscapes to his erotic and sensual nudes which is evident in this beautiful painting. The collection includes further works by Mahmoud Said as well as works by Seif Wanly and Adham Wanly. (Lots 10-15)
The Contemporary component of the auction will be headlined by a group of three pieces by Iranian artist Farhad Moshiri (b. 1963), each of which are fine examples of these major bodies of his work: Born Yesterday (2007) (Lot 29), 3haar (2006) (Lot 35) and "Nagoo ke kheyli dire, Eshghat narafte az yad" ("Don't say it's too late, your love has not been forgotten") (2005) (Lot 40). Further highlights from the Contemporary section include works by Y.Z. Kami, Youssef Nabil, Huda Lutfi, Mohamed El Baz, Hassan Hajjaj, Abbas Kiarostami and Reza Derakshani.