Auction 1090, Modern Art, 31.05.2017, 18:00, Cologne Lot 285

Serge Poliakoff, Composition abstraite

Serge Poliakoff, Composition abstraite, 1957, Auction 1090 Modern Art, Lot 285

Serge Poliakoff

Moscow 1900 - 1969 Paris

Composition abstraite


Oil on panel. 73 x 59 cm. Framed. Signed 'Serge Poliakoff' in black brush lower right. - Work process-related early-stage craqueleur to colour application, in fine condition.

A. Poliakoff 57-128


Moderne Galerie Otto Stangl, Munich (label verso); in private collection since, North Rhine-Westphalia


Munich 1957 (Moderne Galerie Otto Stangl), Serge Poliakoff, cat. no. 8 with colour illus.

Serge Poliakoff's abstract compositions emerge out of themselves. Beginning with the four edges of the canvas, the painter constructs an organic framework of colours and forms, whose specific correspondences and contours are mutually interdependent.

Compared with Poliakoff's works of earlier years, those of the 1950s often appear freer and more dynamic in space: “Thus every form takes part in the pictorial events with its own distinctive vitality, and this vitality in relation to the painting as a whole is magnificently realised in its own distinctive tonal value, its colour, its texture. In the manner of the paint's application - luminous or dull, here spread flat, there dabbed or streaky transparent on top of an underlying layer of paint - and in the deep, emphatic, blazing or gently muted colour, the single form becomes individualised, is made to stand out and is juxtaposed with others or, on the contrary, it is brought into a closer connection”, writes the Zurich art historian Franz Meyer in the exhibition catalogue of the Moderne Galerie Otto Stangl, where the painting was prominently published in 1957 (exhib. cat., Munich 1957, op. cit., n.p.).

This “Composition abstraite” built up with a bold palette largely eliminates the pictorial space's layering in depth into fore- and backgrounds, all the more strikingly emphasising that process of superimposing individual colours and forms in two dimensions which is so typical of Poliakoff's work. The polygonal segments, with their sometimes slightly rounded sides, almost seem to penetrate into the ground. A metaphysical play of forces among the variously proportioned segments in yellow, black, white and red on a luminously red ground permits this composition defined by an emphatically charged tectonic structure to develop that stillness so important to Poliakoff.

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