Morris Kantor (1896-1974)
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more An American Place: The Barney A. Ebsworth Collection
Morris Kantor (1896-1974)


Morris Kantor (1896-1974)
signed and dated 'M Kantor/1923' (lower left)
oil on canvas
35 ¼ x 34 ¼ in. (89.5 x 87 cm.)
Painted in 1923.
The artist.
Mr. and Mrs. Edgar B. Miller, Chicago, Illinois, acquired from the above, 1956.
Vanderwoude Tananbaum Gallery, New York.
Acquired by the late owner from the above, 1984.
M. Brown, American Painting: From the Armory Show to the Depression, Princeton, New Jersey, 1955, p. 186, illustrated.
M. Sawin, "Morris Kantor: Early Paintings," Arts Magazine, February 1976, p. 88.
G. John, "The Composer Took a Bow," The Christian Science Monitor, May 15, 1992, p. 16, illustrated.
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Pioneers of Modern American Art in America: The Decade of the Armory Show 1910-1920, February 27-April 14, 1963, p. 80, illustrated.
Davenport, Iowa, The Davenport Municipal Art Gallery, Morris Kantor Retrospective, June 3-27, 1965, no. 1, illustrated.
St. Louis, Missouri, St. Louis Art Museum; Honolulu, Hawaii, Honolulu Academy of Arts; Boston, Massachusetts, Museum of Fine Arts, The Ebsworth Collection: American Modernism, 1911-1947, November 20, 1987-June 5, 1988, pp. 12, 114-15, 209-10, no. 35, illustrated.
Special notice
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Lot Essay

Adapting the Cubist principles of Marcel Duchamp's famed Nude Descending a Staircase (1912, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Morris Kantor's Orchestra superbly conjures in visual format the harmonious melding of various instruments into an overall melodic musical composition. The repetitive, angular planes of color advance and recede across the picture's surface, avoiding focus on an individual brass instrument or violin to rather create an overarching pattern of color and line.

Martica Sawin writes of the important innovation of this work and another of Kantor's early modern paintings: "Synthetic Arrangement [1922, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.] and Orchestra...represent the most authoritative American abstraction of this period, as well as the most extreme point to which Kantor carried his Cubist-inspired work. They are good examples, as well, of that historical process through which a young artist easily takes hold of the most radical residue of the preceding generation or decade and synthesizes it into something quite different from any of the components." (M. Sawin, "Morris Kantor: Early Paintings," Arts Magazine, February 1976, p. 88)

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