Piasa’s auction: #ProtegeTonSoignant

A fundraising sale that united galleries, artists and collectors in their support of the French medical sector.

3rd – 5th April 2020

By Anna Sansom / 7th April 2020
Claude Lévêque, 'Amour' 2019. (Estimate €45,000 - €50,000. Sold for €50,000) COURTESY: Piasa

Claude Lévêque, ‘Amour’ 2019. Donated by Galerie Kamel Mennour, Paris. (Estimate €45,000 – €50,000. Sold for €50,000)

PIASA, THE PARISIAN auction house, raised over €2.4m for the French medical sector battling the COVID-19 crisis, in an online charity sale held last Friday to Sunday. The sale, titled #ProtegeTonSoignant (ProtectYourCaregiver), featured 370 works donated by leading artists, designers and galleries. The initiative was launched by Laurent Dumas, Piasa’s president, and its directors Frédéric Chambre and Marie Filippi. All proceeds are going towards a collective to help France’s small and regional medical establishments purchase respiratory machines, masks, gowns, food, coffee machines and microwaves, Dumas said in a statement.

The top lot was a nocturnal, figurative painting of five young debutantes, ‘Les Débutantes (bleu de minuit)’ (2014), by the French artist Claire Tabouret, which fetched €207,000.

Claire Tabouret, 'Les Débutantes (bleu de minuit)', 2014. (Estimate €100,000 - €150,000. Sold for €207,000) COURTESY: Piasa

Claire Tabouret, ‘Les Débutantes (bleu de minuit)’, 2014. Anonymous gift. (Estimate €100,000 – €150,000. Sold for €207,000)

Among other high-selling lots were two works by Yves Klein – a sculpture, ‘L’Esclave de Michel-Ange’ (1962-1992), €56,000, and a table from 1963, also in International Klein Blue, €20,000 – as well as Claude Lévêque’s red neon ‘Amour’ (2019), €50,000.

Yves Klein, 'Table bleue', 1963 edition. (Estimate €12,000 - €18,000. Sold for €20,000) COURTESY: Piasa

Yves Klein, ‘Table bleue’, 1963 edition. Donated by Archives Yves Klein. (Estimate €12,000 – €18,000. Sold for €20,000)

On the design front, standouts were an electrifying, colourful inkjet drawing by Erwan Bouroullec, which sold for €25,000, and Collectif Pierre Jeanneret’s (XX) ‘Office Chair’, from Chandigarh University in Punjab, India, which achieved €21,000.

Collectif Pierre Jeanneret (XX), 'Office Chair', 1955-56. (Estimate €12,000 - €18,000. Sold for €21,000) COURTESY: Piasa

Collectif Pierre Jeanneret (XX), ‘Office Chair’, 1955-56. Donated by Jousse Entreprise. (Estimate €12,000 – €18,000. Sold for €21,000)

To make the sale happen, players in the art world put rivalry aside in pursuit of a common, altruistic goal. Leading international galleries, such as Kamel Mennour, Thaddaeus Ropac, Perrotin, Galleria Continua, Galerie kreo and Jousse Entreprise donated works to the auction.

“I’m very moved by the response of all the art lovers, whose generosity hugely surpassed the estimates,” the artist Jean-Michel Othoniel says. “It’s the first time in France that I’ve really felt the desire of bidders to give without worrying about an artwork’s value, because the important thing is to help the caregivers with the greatness of one’s soul. This sale is a beautiful testament to this solidarity.”

Erwan Bouroullec, 'Float' drawing, 2020. (Estimate €8,000 - €12,000. Sold for €25,000) COURTESY: Piasa

Erwan Bouroullec, ‘Float’ drawing, 2020. Donated by Galerie kreo and Erwan Bouroullec. (Estimate €8,000 – €12,000. Sold for €25,000)

Othoniel’s ‘Perle Ambre Mica’ (2017), a unique, round amber lamp made from Murano glass, brushed brass and LEDs, soared past its €2,500-3,500 estimate to €26,000. “I wanted this work to be accessible to the largest number [of bidders] and for it to give a beam of hope to whomever has acquired it. I hope each time that person switches it on that they’ll spare a thought for our caregivers.”

Jean-Michel Othoniel, 'Perle Ambre Mica' lamp, 2017. (Estimate €2,500 - €3,500. Sold for €26,000) COURTESY: Piasa

Jean-Michel Othoniel, ‘Perle Ambre Mica’ lamp, 2017. Donated by Jean-Michel Othoniel. (Estimate €2,500 – €3,500. Sold for €26,000)

Praising Piasa’s “swift response to this catastrophe” through its #ProtegeTonSoignant  collective, Charles Zana, the interior designer and architect, says: “Creatives and artists are citizens above all else; we must be engaged and mobilise together during big crises like this pandemic. Therefore, I decided to donate two ‘Nomad’ [stools] that are iconic pieces and are well known by our collectors.” One of Zana’s ‘Nomad’ marble stools from 2015 went for €11,000, twice its mid-estimate.

Charles Zana, 'Nomad' stool, 2015. (Estimate €4,000 - €6,000. Sold for €11,000) COURTESY: Piasa

Charles Zana, ‘Nomad’ stool, 2015. Donated by Charles Zana’s Architecture Agency. (Estimate €4,000 – €6,000. Sold for €11,000)

The art world’s generosity is in tune with the French people, who are clapping outside their balconies every day at 8pm in tribute to France’s doctors and nurses; at least five French doctors have lost their lives to the coronavirus so far. “It was important for me to support the medical teams; they’re our army and our heroes,” says the designer India Mahdavi, echoing how French President Emmanuel Macron has called the fight against COVID-19 “a war against an invisible enemy”.

Mahdavi donated a lacquered table prototype, ‘Eclipse’ (2018), which realised €11,000. “I offered this table because it symbolises the excellence of traditional and ancestral savoir-faire,” she explains.

India Mahdavi, 'Eclipse' table, 2018. (Estimate €6,000 - €9,000. Sold for €11,000) COURTESY: Piasa

India Mahdavi, ‘Eclipse’ table, 2018. Donated by India Mahdavi. (Estimate €6,000 – €9,000. Sold for €11,000)

Yet, as the interior designer Pierre Yovanovitch, whose unique 2017 table lamp made from enamelled ceramic and hand-blown glass fetched €10,000, says: “The Piasa sale’s excellent result rose to the challenge of the crisis, but it’s a drop in the ocean in the current emergency.”

Pierre Yovanovitch, 'E.T.' table lamp, 2017. (Estimate €6,000 - €9,000. Sold for €10,000) COURTESY: Piasa

Pierre Yovanovitch, ‘E.T.’ table lamp, 2017. Donated by Pierre Yovanovitch. (Estimate €6,000 – €9,000. Sold for €10,000)

Other design highlights included Laura Gonzalez’s red ‘Madras’ (2018) armchair in lacquered wood and Pierre Frey fabric, selling for €8,500, and a bird-like pitcher/vase by Roger Capron that flew past its modest estimate of €500-700 to €4,000.

Laura Gonzalez, 'Madras' armchair, 2018. (Estimate €2,000 - €3,000. Sold for €8,500) COURTESY: Piasa

Laura Gonzalez, ‘Madras’ armchair, 2018. Donated by Laura Gonzales. (Estimate €2,000 – €3,000. Sold for €8,500)

Piasa did not charge fees for buyers or sellers.

Roger Capron, 'Pitcher', circa 1950-60. (Estimate €500 - €700. Sold for €4,000) COURTESY: Piasa

Roger Capron, ‘Pitcher’, circa 1950-60. Donated by Valérie Bernis. (Estimate €500 – €700. Sold for €4,000)

Piasa – a French auction house showcasing cutting edge selections in art and design.

Article by Anna Sansom
Article by Anna Sansom
Anna Sansom is a British journalist, based in Paris, who writes about contemporary art, design and architecture. View all articles by Anna Sansom