• Post-War & Contemporary Art Da auction at Christies

    Sale 12245

    Post-War & Contemporary Art Day Auction

    7 October 2016, London, King Street

  • Lot 228

    SERGE POLIAKOFF (1900-1969)

    Bleu gris et rouge (Blue Grey and Red


    SERGE POLIAKOFF (1900-1969)
    Bleu gris et rouge (Blue Grey and Red
    signed ‘Serge Poliakoff’ (lower left)
    oil on canvas
    51 1/8 x 63 7/8in. (130 x 162.3cm.)
    Painted in 1963

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Contact the department

    “Space, not the artist, must model the forms. They must be part-sculpture, part-architecture. Geometric form must turn into organic form, and it’s the inward pressure of space that does that. Space makes form – not the other way round.”
    —S. POLIAKOFF,quoted in Serge Poliakoff, Retrospective 1938-1963, exh. cat, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 1963, p. 15

    Christie’s is proud to present three works by Serge Poliakoff, Antoni Tàpies and Günther Uecker from one of Switzerland’s most important art collections. All three works, offered across our October Day and Evening Auctions, are from a collection with very close ties to the legendary Erker-Galerie in St. Gallen. The Erker-Galerie was founded in 1958 in St. Gallen by Franz Larese and Jürg Janett, and soon established itself as one of the most innovative galleries in Europe. For many decades the gallery not only showed the avant-garde of its times, with exhibitions of works by artists such as Max Bill, Chillida, Dix, Dorazio, Motherwell, Piene, Poliakoff, Tàpies and Uecker among many others, but also established itself as a meeting point for novelists, writers and intellectuals. Most of the works from the collection were purchased directly from the artists as a result of the deep friendship that was established over the years between the artists, the gallery and the collector.

    Arrestingly graceful and expressive, Bleu gris et rouge (1964) demonstrates the supreme mastery of form and colour that characterises Serge Poliakoff’s mature work. Rich complementary shades of red, blue, green and grey blend across the surface of the canvas in resonant chromatic harmony, articulated through gently interlocking geometric fields. Informed by his musical background, the work’s lilting irregularities derive from Poliakoff’s desire to create an artistic language in which all components – colours, forms and proportions – exist in a state of perfect equilibrium. Poliakoff’s late works, often referred to as ‘silent paintings’, saw the artist shift from grey and brown tonalities to luxuriously contrasting hues, instilling his compositions with a powerful reverberant energy.
    Inspired by the colour theories of his abstract forbears, including Wassily Kandinsky and Sonia and Robert Delaunay, Poliakoff firmly believed that ‘If you let it, your colour will take charge of you … Similarly with your forms: the spontaneous form for an artist to use is always an organic one, but you’ve got to be in control of it. A child will use all the colours in the box at once, instinctively, and if you don’t want to make that same mistake you’ve got to on studying hard and for a long time. There is no such a thing as a system of pictorial construction, but there are certain universal laws that you can find out for yourself if you study the big masters long enough. It’s the law, not the “system”, that counts’ (S. Poliakoff, quoted in Serge Poliakoff, Retrospective 1938-1963, exh. cat, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 1963, p. 13). Similar examples of Poliakoff’s practice are held in the permanent collections of Tate Modern in London, Museum of Modern Art in New York and Musée National d’Art Modern in Paris.

    Special Notice

    Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
    These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. This VAT is not shown separately on the invoice. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.


    Francesco Larese Collection, St. Gallen.
    Erker-Galerie, St. Gallen.
    Private Collection (acquired from the above).Thence by descent to the present owner.

    Pre-Lot Text

    Property from an Important Swiss Collection


    A. Poliakoff, Serge Poliakoff, Catalogue Raisonné: 1963-1965, vol. IV, Munich 2012, no. 63-07 (illustrated in colour, p. 65).