British artist Cissie Kean (1871-1961) was born in London to a wealthy family of German coffee merchants. Kean developed an interest in painting from a young age, but her family made it clear that a career as a painter would not be suitable for a young woman of her social standing. However, she would go against her family’s wishes after being crippled as a young adult in a severe riding accident. After this transformative event, Kean was determined to dedicate her life to painting.
Kean completed her artistic studies at the renowned Académie Julian in Paris, where she was awarded a medal for her work in 1906. During this period, her works were strongly influenced by avant-garde artists André Lhôte and Jean Marchand. At the onset of WWI, Kean returned to London where she set up a studio and spent time travelling and attending painting groups around England with fellow artists Bertha Johnson and Lila Sampson. In 1916-19, she painted watercolours with New Zealand artist Frances Hodgkins in areas such as Chipping Camden and exhibited at the New English Art Club in London 1921 and 1922. After the War, Kean travelled extensively in the Mediterranean and Brazil. But the lure of Paris would prove difficult to resist and Kean would return there in the late 1920s to work under André Lhôte once more, as well as Fernand Léger and Amédée Ozenfant. This second Parisian period saw Kean, then in her fifties, dramatically and decisively develop her personal style. Closely following Léger’s approach to objects in his still lifes from this period, Kean arranges flat, highly simplified and semi-abstract forms of varying themes in a layered, interlocking quasi-geometric composition. This flat geometry is only broken by a few occasional naturalistic elements. This juxtaposition successfully imbues Kean’s subject matter with a sense of vitality, movement and monumentality despite the work’s relatively modest scale. Kean’s spirit of experimentation and her innate ability to execute the careful balance between representation and abstraction which the Cubists sought to maintain make her a female artist with a unique artistic voice. However, despite being one of the founding members and regular contributors to the London-based Three Arts Club, as so often happens with the work of women painters of independent means, Kean’s works were rarely exhibited with the intention of selling. At the request of her family, she maintained a low profile and most of her papers and some of her works were sadly lost or destroyed in the years following her death. Happily, despite these obstacles her oeuvre survives, and in the end, Kean succeeded in pursuing her passion and dedicating her life to art.
The Estate of the Artist
Cissie Kean (1871-1961), Blue Star, c. 1925
Oil on canvas
Signed with studio stamp verso
50 x 65 cm
64 x 78.2 cm (Framed)
£12,000 plus any applicable taxes
Provenance: The Estate of the Artist
Reinhold Koehler (1919-1970), Gelbes Sandbild 1960 IX, 1959-1960
Sand, glue and pigments on canvas
Estate stamp and inscribed verso
101 x 70 cm
101.5 x 71.3 cm (Framed)
£26,000 plus any applicable taxes
In little over two decades, Reinhold Koehler developed an immense body of work, informed by his principle of décollage; a technique he single-handedly developed and used as early as 1948, then years before the Neo-Dadaists. Both he and his art belong to the Rhine-Westphalia lands of Germany, where the ‘Gruppe 53’ came toprominence in Düsseldorfin 1953, practicing ‘Informel’, using the Tachistand gestural styles which they essentially derived from Dada. Nowhere else in Germany was there an artistic concentration of this kind. The movement included painters such as Peter Brüning, Karl Fred Dahmen, Albert Fürst, Herbert Götzinger, Gerhard Hoehme, Hahn Trier, Otto Piene and Heinz Mack. It was also during this time that Gerhardt Richter came over from EasternGermany to be able to paint freely.
Koehler's works are a testimony to his powerful creative mind and individual expression which can be situated within the central tenets of the German 1950s Avant-Garde and its artistic endeavours. In 1953, Koehler settled in a studio in the tower of the historical castle of Siegen, where he would work until his untimely death in 1970. Here, he developed his first paintings with sand, glue and pigments. In the early stages these so-called 'Sandbilder' appear as relatively flat sand-coloured surfaces incised with Koehler’s freehand scratching. Over time they developed into built-up works with hollow points, reminiscent of moon craters and spatial landscapes. From a distance these convey a level of space expansion through the effects of optical illusion. During the late 1960s, these sand paintings were reduced to elegant traces of sand on raw canvas.
His work was the subject of numerous one-man shows in Siegen, Wiesbaden, Groningen, as well as articles by scholarly writers such as Helmut Heissenbüttel, Wilhelm Nettmann and Wieland Schmied.
The Estate of the Artist
Joseph Lacasse (1894-1975), Vérité (Dia no. 101), 1972
Oil on canvas
74 x 100 cm
94 x 120 cm (Framed)
£55,000 plus any applicable taxes
An eminent abstract painter of the École de Paris, Joseph Lacasse was born into a destitute working class family in Tournai, Belgium. His artistic vocation was first outlined at the local stone quarries where he worked as a young teenager. From as early as 1910, in white chalk on black paper, Lacasse studied and depicted the angles of the quarry stones and the light they refracted and reflected.
In 1925, Lacasse left his native Belgium to settle Paris in the Impasse Ronsin in a studio next to Constantin Brancusi. Lacasse had initially trained as a painter of religious scenes. However, with Brancusi as his neighbour, he was inspired to revisit his teenage interest in light and the composition of stone. During 1927-1928, Lacasse met Robert and Sonia Delaunay whose influence on his colour-palette would be profound. With their continued encouragement, Lacasse soon found his own unique style of abstraction.
At the onset of the Second World War, Lacasse left Paris for Britain. Upon his return to Paris in 1946, after having spent the war years in Britain, Lacasse found that he had been overshadowed by Serge Poliakoff. The latter admitted having learnt much from Lacasse during the late 1930s, when he was a frequent visitor to Lacasse's Montparnasse gallery 'L'Équipe'. What characterises the work of Lacasse is the intense, continuous vibration of light communicated through colour in his works. Lacasse achieved his aims of turning light into matter made visible.
One of London's leading international Art Galleries, Whitford Fine Art specialise in European and British 20th Century painting and sculpture, with an emphasis on Post-War Abstraction and British Pop Art.
Founded in 1973 by Adrian Mibus and Louise Whitford, the gallery offers over forty years experience in art buying, selling and advising. The Gallery also offers valuation services, curatorial advice and assistance in collection building and display. Over forty years, Whitford Fine Art has regularly lent to museums in the UK and abroad and has presented a vast exhibition programme, covering movements from Belle Époque, to Symbolism, Cubism to Pop Art.
Whitford Fine Art is proud to manage the estates of artists Caziel, Mildred Bendall and Joseph Lacasse, and to represent artists Clive Barker, Derek Boshier, Georges Bernède and Frank Avray Wilson.