I never got to see the famed Marabou Collection of sculpture en situ during my years at Christie’s, but fortunately for a few collectors, the collection was put up for sale and offered by Stockholm’s Bukowski's auction house last month.
Marabou is Sweden’s chocolatier and is now part of Kraft Foods who acquired it and sold the collection put together by the company’s founders, the Thone-Holst family. The family were great industrialists, and perhaps even greater art lovers and philanthropists. The first generation commissioned 12 large paintings by Edward Munch – yes, the artist behind The Scream - to decorate their employee canteens, and the next generation bought incredible sculpture to beautify the offices of the company. Talk about ideal bosses!!!
If I had my pick, these would have entered MY collection!
Topping my picks would be Jean Arp’s (1887-1966) work "Amphore de Muse". No words do justice to its beauty and extraordinary sensual lines. While not exactly figural, it’s more an abstract of the human form. The curves contrasting with the flat sharp edges, coupled with varying shades of bronze and gold patina, draw you into the piece as you view it from various angles. Who couldn't help but love their work if this greeted them each morning?
I cannot stop thinking about the big brown eyes of this charming owl sculpture, "Hibou", by Francois Pompon (1855-1933). Its patina is absolutely wonderful. It takes decades of running your hand over the object for that warm mellow glow to develop. The sculpture still looks bold and modern today.
"Radar No 2" by Arnaldo Pomodoro (b. 1926) has the exact opposite feeling of the first two sculptures – it’s hard and broken and is more anxious than sensual although it remains unusually seductive. Undoubtedly Italy's best-known modern sculptor, Pomodoro takes the simple convex form and trashes the silence and serenity with jagged slashes across the plain… in a way, he is to sculpture what Lucio Fontana is to painting!
Once upon a time companies felt drawn to buying art as both inspiration and investment. An entire generation of workers grew up amongst great works of art in their daily routine and for that they’re better people. It’s my hope the torch is handed off to the next leaders of industry to inspire artists and workers alike.
image credits: Bukowski’s, Sweden