Auction 1143, Modern Art, 29.11.2019, 18:00, Cologne Lot 265

Serge Poliakoff, Composition abstraite

Serge Poliakoff, Composition abstraite, 1948, Auction 1143 Modern Art, Lot 265

Serge Poliakoff

Moscow 1900 - 1969 Paris

Composition abstraite

1948

Oil on canvas. 92 x 73 cm. Framed. Signed 'SERGE POLIAKOFF' in white lower left. - Superficially minimally soiled. Otherwise in perfect condition.

A. Poliakoff 48-43

With a photo-certificate by Axlexis Poliakoff, Paris, dated 13.7.1997 (copy)

Provenance

Max Welti, Zurich; Galerie Michael Haas, Berlin (label verso on stretcher); Lempertz Cologne, 20th century art, auction 634, 8.12.1988, lot 834; Galerie Sander, Darmstadt (1997); Private possession, Hesse

Exhibitions

Zurich 1967 (Kunsthaus), Spektrum der Farbe. Eine Zürcher Privatsammlung (Max Henri Welti), cat. no. 182; Berlin 1983 (Galerie Michael Haas), Aus den Beständen der Galerie, cat. no. 18 with colour illus.

In the late 1940s Serge Poliakoff found his own unmistakable visual idiom in abstraction - preceding not from theoretical concepts but individual, emotional insights. “It must have been a sense of the infinite wealth of forms which led Poliakoff - who was, after all, already 47 years old - to occupy himself entirely without compromise with a simultaneously limited and inexhaustible field of artistic possibilities. We never sense doubts or a search for new shores. The constantly bubbling wellspring of his pictorial inventions demonstrates the great capacity of his conception. His works neither become frozen in geometric rigour nor do they linger in an analytical constructivism. […] These structural qualities of his painting are directly connected with Poliakoff's great musical talent. The guitarist with three decades of professional experience was, of course, familiar with the musical theory of classical and modern music. […] On the picture plane of his paintings, he develops harmoniously synchronised colours into optical tonal tapestries. The structures created in this way are simultaneously complex and astonishingly simple. Constellations of forms and their variations as well as the deliberate repetition or apparent mirroring of clusters of forms cause viewers to perceive tonalities that are just as rich in tension as they are harmonious.” (Nils Ohlsen, in: Serge Poliakoff. Retrospektive, exhib. cat. Kunsthalle in Emden/Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung München, Munich 2007, p. 31f.).

The “Composition abstraite” here is done in the earthy tones that characterise most of his early abstract works. In contrast to the emphatically two-dimensional visual idiom that dominated his oeuvre from the 1950s onwards, here free and gestural contours define the composition, which seems to extend in depth. White, yellow and dark brown lines as well as tonally similar planes overlap and intersect into a web concentrated towards the centre of the picture.

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