• Photographs: The Evening Sale auction at Christies

    Sale 12203

    Photographs: The Evening Sale

    4 October 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 14

    Alexander Rodchenko (1891-1956)

    Morning Wash (Varvara Rodchenko), 1932

    Estimate

    Alexander Rodchenko (1891-1956)
    Morning Wash (Varvara Rodchenko), 1932
    gelatin silver print
    stamped photographer's credit (verso)
    image/sheet: 6 5/8 x 4 1/8 in. (16.8 x 10.5 cm.)


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    The present lot is an intimate portrait of the artist's five-year-old daughter bathing – a glimpse of Rodchenko's treasured personal life in the early 1930s when he was questioning his role in the evolving, deeply influential artists' community of Moscow. Photographed during a time of personal and political turmoil when notions of identity and authenticity were uprooted, Varvara's tender portrait serves as a grounding reminder of one of life's defining realities – a father's love for his children.

    The image itself utilizes one of Rodchenko's iconic compositional principles of photographing diagonally from the 'top down' and thus offering a novel, unique form of perception. Rodchenko's shadow is visible in the lower half, creating a more geometrically dynamic composition. The presence of his shadow not only highlights the camera's role in this particular image but also its pivotal role in the Russian avant-garde. Morning Wash is a quintessential example of the Constructivist master's revered aesthetic ideology and a touching recognition of his steadfast familial devotion.






    Provenance

    Galerie Gmurzynska, Cologne, 1995;
    acquired from the above by Nathalie Karg, Ltd., New York, agent;
    Collection of Henry Buhl, New York;
    Sotheby's, New York, December 12, 2012, lot 18;
    Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York;
    acquired from the above by the current owner, 2014.


    Literature

    Jennifer Blessing, Speaking with Hands: Photographs from The Buhl Collection, Guggenheim Foundation, 2004, pp. 91 and 244.
    Ray Merritt, Full of Grace: A Journey Through the History of Childhood, New York, 2006, p. 72.


    Exhibited

    New York, Guggenheim Museum, Speaking with Hands: Photographs from The Buhl Collection, June - September 2004.
    Palm Beach Photographic Centre, In Good Hands: Selected Works from the Buhl Collection, March 2011.
    Palm Beach Photographic Centre, Full of Grace: A Journey Through the History of Childhood, January - March 2012.