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    Sale 2166

    Impressionist and Modern Works on Paper

    7 May 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 137

    Pavel Tchelitchew (1898-1957)

    Untitled (Study for Hide & Seek)

    Price Realised  


    Pavel Tchelitchew (1898-1957)
    Untitled (Study for Hide & Seek)
    signed and dated 'P. Tchelitchew 1942' (lower right)
    watercolor on paper
    13¼ x 10 7/8 in. (33.7 x 27.6 cm.)
    Painted in 1942

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    Erik La Prade has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

    On April 21 1942, Tchelitchew's exhibition, Metamorphoses opened at the Julien Levy gallery in New York. This exhibition presented Tchelitchew's new work, pictures of automatic "metamorphoses"--the merging and transforming of one image into multiple images. To accompany the exhibition Charles Henry Ford, Tchelitchew's partner, published a double issue of View magazine--half of the issue was devoted to Yves Tanguy's exhibition at the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York, also opening on April 21st, and the other half of the issue was devoted to Tchelitchew's new pictures.

    The cover of Tchelitchew's half of the issue featured an ink drawing of a tree, its branches peopled with children playing a game of hide and seek. Three other black-and-white studies were also reproduced inside this issue, including The Green Head of 1940, later retitled Head of Spring (for Hide & Seek). These were accompanied by essays on Tchelitchew's work, which served to introduce both his early pictures and his new metamorphic paintings. In the essay by Lincoln Kirstein, "The Position of Pavel Tchelitchew," he observed: "His new picture, Cache Cache (1940-42), not yet exposed, is an enormous technical advance over Phenomena. The whole huge canvas seems to swim in a giant drop of water. . . The composition stems from a central tree whose roots are gnarled foot, and whose branches forming the frame for children's heads are seasonal landscape, while these landscapes are portraits, and the portraits in themselves, grimacing children, insects, fruits, flowers, leaves and snow suitable to the year's weather and the times of day" (L. Kirstein, "The Position of Pavel Tchelitchew," View, 1942, p. 12).

    Hide & Seek (The Museum of Modern Art, New York) was completed in June 1942. The present painting of 1942 is consistent with the preliminary sketches for Hide & Seek, painted during 1940-1942, when Tchelitchew continually reworked the compositional format for the nine head-landscapes around the tree. Tchelitchew labeled many of these sketches, Head of Autumn or Head of Spring, all connoting different seasons. The colors and placid activities of the semi-hidden children in the present work suggest this is a study for Head of Summer, or a variation of it. The figures seem to be asleep or napping to avoid the summer heat. The date indicates that Tchelitchew continued sketching out his compositional ideas even while he was painting his finished picture.


    Gump's, San Francisco.
    Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1975.