Moscow 1900 - 1969 Paris
Oil on canvas. 73 x 60 cm. Framed. Signed 'Serge Poliakoff' in black lower left. - Two minimal retouches in lower left and upper right margins.
A. Poliakoff 66-272
Galerie Smith, Paris; formerly Collection Marcel and Liliane Pollak, Paris; Germann Auctions, Zurich, 26 March 1996, lot 57; formerly West German private collection (acquired Dec. 1996), estate; Private possession, Rhineland
The late work of Serge Poliakoff is marked by architecturally structured compositions in which the layering of the pictorial space is replaced by a radical two-dimensionality. While his manner of conceiving pictures would change only slightly from the mid-1940s onwards, a tendency towards the monochrome can be recognised more and more often in his later works. A strongly reduced range of colours is also a characteristic feature of the present composition, which seems pacified, almost purified, in its tonality.
Poliakoff strikingly demonstrates his typical process of superimposing individual colours and forms on the plane. With a cool palette and generously proportioned shapes, he orders the pictorial space layer by layer. At the same time, the individual layers of colour laid on top of one another provide the painting with a delicate transparency and luminosity that only gradually conveys itself to viewers. The bold blue and dark green possess an astounding depth and, when considered closely, they unfold into those complex nuances of colour which cause the canvas to become a vibrating sounding board in the superimposition of its colours.
In 1966 the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen dedicated the first extensive retrospective to the work of the painter Serge Poliakoff. Only a few years before, he had been honoured with his own exhibition gallery at the 31st Biennale di Venezia.