SERGE POLIAKOFF
Russian, (1906-1969)
"Peinture," 1946
oil on canvas
signed lower left "Serge Poliakoff," signed, dated and inscribed on the reverse "19 bis cité des Fleurs Paris- / P_433 / Serge / DiDi Poliakoff / 1946"

  • Notes: Our thanks to Mr. Thaddée Poliakoff of the Archives Serge Poliakoff for confirming the authenticity of this work.

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    "The painting should be monumental, that is to say, larger than its dimensions."
    —Serge Poliakoff

    Serge Poliakoff was born on January 8, 1900, in Moscow, Russia. When he was 18, the young artist fled the Russian Revolution and travelled through Belgrade, Vienna, Berlin, and Constantinople for 3 years, working as a cabaret entertainer to support himself before settling in Paris in 1923. In Paris, Poliakoff studied painting at the Académie Forchot and Académie de la Grande Chaumière.

    In 1935, while attending the Slade School of Art in London, he discovered the abstract works of Wassily Kandinsky and Sonia Delaunay. Until he met these artists and studied their works, his paintings were more academic in style. These two artist's works had a profound impact on Poliakoff's understanding of color and influenced the works he created throughout the rest of his career as he came to be considered one of the most powerful artists of his generation.

    Poliakoff exhibited his first abstract painting in 1938 at the Salon des Indépendants, in which he participated regularly until 1945. In 1945, Galerie L'Equisse, Paris, presented a solo exhibition of his work alongside Jean Dubuffet, Hans Hartung, and Nicolas de Staël (the latter's commitment to nonobjective art especially influencing the artist).

    Poliakoff is regarded as a member of the "new" École de Paris (School of Paris) following World War II. Avoiding empirical, or overly geometric line and form, Poliakoff's canvases invest in the asymmetrical and expressive qualities associated with Lyrical Abstraction (Abstraction lyrique); Art Informel; Art autre (Art of another kind); and perhaps most often, Tachisme (from the French tache, for blot or stain).

    He produced so-called plastic poems, works that focused on superimposed colors corralled in linear shapes on the canvas, with hues mediated by texture and tempered by his experiments with monochromatic painting between 1947 and 1950. In these endeavors, he was extremely successful earning the Kandinsky Prize in 1947.1

    In the current example "Peinture" from 1946, his non-representational technique of creating an almost puzzle like image by using a very monochromatic palette is evident and powerful.

    Poliakoff died in Paris on October 12, 1969. In 2015, Timothy Taylor Gallery in London opened Serge Poliakoff: Silent Paintings, which opened to critical acclaim. Today, his works are held in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, the Tate Gallery in London, the Malmö Konsthall in Sweden, and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., among others.
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    1 "Serge Poliakoff," https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/artist/serge-poliakoff, (Date accessed: September 1, 2021).

    Framed dimensions: 29 x 36 1/4 x 1 1/4 inches

    Tags: oil painting, European, Modern / Contemporary, abstract
  • Provenance: Kunsthaus, Zurich, Switzerland (label on the reverse); Private Collection, Milan, Italy; by descent to Private Collection, Los Angeles, California.
  • Dimensions: 28 x 35 inches
  • Artist Name: SERGE POLIAKOFF
  • Exhibited: Zurich, Switzerland, Kunsthaus, "Malerei im Paris Heute," 1952, catalog no. 100.
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Condition: unlined canvas; very minor restoration apparent under UV; UV photos available upon request; artist change / repair apparent at left; a few losses along the edges

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by Shannon's
October 28, 2021 6:00 PM EDT
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