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René Magritte’s 'L’ami Intime' Expected to Fetch Around $64 Million At Christie’s In London

Christie’s standalone sale of surrealist art will be held in March in London.
Cover Image Source:
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Art enthusiasts and collectors are excited as Christie's auction house prepares to unveil a surrealist masterpiece by the iconic René Magritte. The painting, titled "L'ami intime" (The Intimate Friend), is a gem that has been shrouded from the public eye for over a quarter century. With a pre-sale estimate ranging between $38 million and $64 million, the artwork is poised to make history at the upcoming auction on March 7 in London. 

Rene Magritte and his wife Georgette Berger, circa 1937 | Getty Images | Photo by Apic
Rene Magritte and his wife Georgette Berger, circa 1937 | Getty Images | Photo by Apic

Magritte, a luminary in this avant-garde movement, is renowned for his ability to weave dreams and reality into a tapestry of enigmatic visuals. "L'ami intime" is no exception, encapsulating Magritte's distinctive motifs — the bowler-hatted man, fluffy white clouds against a blue sky — in a composition that exudes poetic and dreamlike qualities.

Completed in 1958, "L'ami intime" shows a unique perspective, portraying the bowler-hatted man from behind as he gazes over a hilly landscape. The artist's surreal touch is evident as a baguette and a wine glass hover mysteriously in the foreground, inviting viewers into a world where the ordinary becomes extraordinary. The painting's last public exhibition in Brussels in 1998 marked a break that has only heightened the excitement surrounding its reappearance on the auction stage.

Olivier Camu, Christie’s deputy chairman for Impressionist and modern art, attests to the exceptional nature of "L'ami intime," labeling it among the most significant Magritte works held privately. Its first public auction since 1980 adds an extra layer of rarity, ensuring that art connoisseurs and collectors are ready for a chance to own a surreal piece of history

Amid extreme buzz around the auction, comparisons are inevitably drawn to his most iconic work, a painting of a pipe titled "This is not a pipe." Such paradoxical statements and unsettling juxtapositions, central to the surrealist ethos, find resonance in Magritte's masterpieces, challenging conventional perceptions of reality and representation. The surrealist movement, with its revolutionary ideals, laid the foundation for exploring the subconscious, psychology, and psychoanalysis — themes that continue to reverberate in contemporary art.

Magritte's distinct approach to surrealism sets him apart from his contemporaries like Salvador Dali. His paintings, devoid of specific cultural or religious references, lean towards the conceptual, making them universally accessible. Unlike artists who explained their works in detail, Magritte chose silence, allowing viewers to interpret his paintings independently. Even the titles of his artworks were often suggested by friends, adding an element of mystery to the creative process.

Image Source: A general view of the exhibition
A general view of the exhibition "Rene Magritte - The Treachery of Images" | Photo by Hannelore Foerster | Getty Images

Before the much-anticipated auction, art enthusiasts and curious onlookers will have the opportunity to admire "L'ami intime." Christie's has organized a global tour, offering the public a chance to view this marvel in Los Angeles, New York, Hong Kong, and London. The pre-sale exhibition promises an immersive journey into the surrealist universe crafted by Magritte, setting the stage for a bidding war that is expected to transcend the boundaries of traditional art valuation.