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Serge Poliakoff (1900-1969)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Serge Poliakoff (1900-1969)

Bleu rouge gris vert (Blue, Red, Grey, Green)

Serge Poliakoff (1900-1969)
Bleu rouge gris vert (Blue, Red, Grey, Green)
signed ‘SERGE POLIAKOFF’ (lower left)
oil on canvas
63¾ x 51 1/8in. (162 x 130cm.)
Painted in 1963
Galerie Im Erker, St. Gallen.
Dr. Bachmann, Teufen (acquired from the above in 1964).
Tornabuoni Arte, Florence.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2007.
A. Poliakoff, Serge Poliakoff, Catalogue Raisonné: 1963-1965, vol. IV, Munich 2012, no. 63-05 (illustrated in colour, p. 61).
La collection T, une collection privée suisse, Zurich 2003, no. 13 (illustrated in colour, p. 27).
Kassel, Documenta III, 1964.
Paris, Galerie de France, Serge Poliakoff, no. 14, 1964-1965.
St. Gallen, Galerie Im Erker, Poliakoff, no. 20, 1965 (illustrated).
Luzern, Galerie Räber, Serge Poliakoff, no. 12, 1965 (illustrated).
St. Gallen, Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, Serge Poliakoff, no. 80, 1966 (illustrated).
St. Gallen, Kunstverein St. Gallen, Sammlung T, no. 59, 1988 (illustrated in colour).
Florence, Tornabuoni Arte, Maestri Moderni e Contemporanei, Antologia scelta 2007, 2007 (illustrated in colour on cover; illustrated in colour, p. 219).
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.
Post lot text
This work is registered in the Archives of Serge Poliakoff under no. 963040.

Brought to you by

Alexandra Werner
Alexandra Werner

Lot Essay

Executed in 1963, Bleu rouge gris vert is a striking example of Poliakoff’s mature style, demonstrating the unique and poetic approach to colour that the artist developed in the post-War period. Richly contrasting hues in red, blue, grey and green interlock upon the canvas in perfect harmony, in a sumptuous display of Poliakoff’s artistic dedication and skill. The title, Bleu rouge gris vert, showcases the artist’s absolute dedication to colour. Allowing the colour to speak for itself, he felt no further reference was needed. Whereas in the 1940s he experimented with brown and grey tones, he later employed bright, contrasting tones to achieve balance between verticals and horizontals whilst maintaining equilibrium between the centre and the edges of the image. Completed in the year that saw his first major retrospective at The Whitechapel Art Gallery in London, the piece was then exhibited at Documenta III in 1964, standing as a stunning example of the artist’s practice. Bleu rouge gris vert demonstrates the artist’s use of graceful asymmetry to create a peaceful atmosphere that is balanced and harmonious, through simplified and monumental forms.

The artist began to study painting whilst making a living as a musician, and he sought to apply the formal unity and dynamism that could be found in music to the visual arts. This led him to produce some of the most successful works of abstraction, placing different fields of colour alongside each other in a poised composition, as in the present work. Poliakoff studied at the Slade School of Art after relocating to London in 1935, and it was here that the artist first discovered abstract painting and the importance of layering colour. Soon after his arrival in the country, he visited the British Museum and was struck by the flat areas of colour on the painted Egyptian sarcophagi, and this proved to have a large influence on the artist’s stylistic development. Poliakoff was also influenced by the colour theory of Robert Delaunay, which explored how the relationships of colours could create sensations of spatial depth. With these varied inspirations fresh in his memory, the artist began to appreciate the emotive potential of colour and began to produce works which contrasted colour upon a flat surface. The result is a canvas that possesses a unique energy that radiates outwards, as Poliakoff speaks through the layering of tones and hues. A union of modern theory with inspiration from antiquity is demonstrated in this work, and similar examples of Poliakoff’s practice are now 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.

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