Gino Severini (1883-1966)
Gino Severini (1883-1966)

Expansion centrifuge de la lumière

Gino Severini (1883-1966)
Expansion centrifuge de la lumière
signed 'G. Severini' (lower right); signed again, dated and inscribed 'Gino Severini 1912 Expansion centrifuge' (on the reverse)
gouache, watercolor and pencil on paper
24¼ x 19½ in. (61.5 x 49.5 cm.)
executed in 1913-1914
Sidney Janis Gallery, New York.
Private collection, Massachusetts (acquired from the above, 1964); sale, Christie's, London, 6 December 2000, lot 2.
Jan Krugier, acquired at the above sale.
D. Fonti, Gino Severini: Catalogo ragionato, Milan, 1988, p. 179, no. 209 (illustrated).
New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, XX Century Artists, October-November 1960, no. 52 (illustrated; dated 1912).
Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Analogías Musicales: Kandinsky y sus contemporáneos, February-May 2003, p. 240, no. 165 (illustrated in color).

Lot Essay

Around 1913, after adventurous explorations amongst his friends and fellow Futurists Umberto Boccioni, Giacomo Balla, Carlo Carrà and Mario Sironi, Severini began what he called "a period of more intense abstraction." His paintings of this time abandon the modern themes of his first Futurist period (such as the dancers lit by the flashes of the stage set; the city in its continuous, frenetic movement), and focus on pure dynamic impulses, separated from any intention of realistic representation. The beloved theme of the dance implies, now, by analogical association, cosmic connotations: the works of this deeply inspired series look like an explosion of brushstrokes, heavy with color and light, always generating and dividing geometrical, intertwined volumes. The present painting is an exemplary work from this period, as the explosion of light is rendered through a composition of bright prisms, in continuous movement and quick metamorphosis.

Expansion centrifuge de la lumière belongs to a small group of gouaches most likely executed between 1913 and 1914. Parallel to this series were the few oils dedicated, as the gouaches, to the "spheric expansion of light." These paintings were praised by the artist himself as works of great beauty and transparence of color. The geometrical forms, completely abstract, are fused with an agile rhythm, utterly non-mechanical: a compenetration of forms that truly evokes the transparence of moving and intertwining bright prisms. Through the Pointillist touch of color, the volumes of the work lose body, and become immaterial. The rich brightness of the color emphasizes the dynamic impact of the lines.

The present work bears a pencil inscription on the reverse by the artist, dating the work to 1912. This is most likely a lapse of memory; in fact, the pictorial works and written statements of that year clearly show that Severini did not embrace a similar strength of abstraction until the end of 1913. His quest towards abstract Futurism culminated in the preparatory works for the exhibition he mounted at the Roman gallery of Giuseppe Sprovieri in 1914. We should therefore surmise that the inscription was added at a later date, likely on the occasion of the sale to a collector.

More from A Dialogue Through Art: Works from the Jan Krugier Collection Day Sale

View All
View All