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Gino Severini (1883-1966)

Studio per "Mer = danseuse"

Gino Severini (1883-1966)
Studio per "Mer = danseuse"
signed, dedicated to the artist's wife and dated 'à mon Jannot très cher ce premier dessin des analogies en souvenir de Anzio, Janvier 1914, Gino Severini' (lower right)
brush and India ink on paper
12¾ x 9 7/8in. (32.5 x 25cm.)
Executed in 1913-1914
The family of the artist.
Anon. sale, Sotheby's London, 5 December 1984, lot 344.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
D. Fonti, Gino Severini, Catalogo ragionato, Milan 1988, no. 185a (illustrated, pp. 170 and 31).
G. de Marco, 'Lettere di Gino Severini a Luciano Folgore: lettura ed approfondimenti', in Avanguardia, 1996, no. 3, p. 91.
New York, Galleria Arti, Futurism, Selected works and documents. Marinetti, Boccioni, Sant'Elia, Balla, Severini, Russolo, Depero, 1984, p. 31.
Venice, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, The Dance 1909-1916, May- October 2001, no. 34 (titled 'Study for Sea Dancer', illustrated p. 135).
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VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium

Lot Essay

This work is sold with a photo-certificate signed by the artist, dated Bologna, li 31 dicembre 1960, and is recorded in the artist's archive under no. 411.

This study for one of Gino Severini's greatest paintings, his 1914 Mer=Danseuse (Sea=Dancer) now in the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice, is also, as its tender inscription to his wife Jeanne (Jannot) describes, the very 'first drawing of his plastic analogies' given to her 'in memory' of the six months they spent in Anzio shortly after their wedding, in the early part of 1914.

Severini's 'Plastic Analogies' are a highly important series of paintings that attempted to extend the logic of Futurism into the realm of the abstract. They were in part the artist's response to the invitation Filippo Tommaso Marinetti voiced in Lacerba in November 1913, for artists to represent 'the invisible, the agitation of atoms, Brownian motion... (and) ...the infinite life of molecules', as well as a pictorial development of the Cubist logic of Fernand Léger's recent Contrastes de Formes. In the main, however, they were a dynamic but logical extension of Severini's own brand of Futurism into the interior world of his own experience - an attempt to penetrate beneath the merely objective surface appearance of things, in favour of a more subjective and personal approach and provide what Severini described, as a much broader, 'intense and specific realism' (Gino Severini, quoted in Gino Severini, The Dance: 1909-16, exh. cat., New York, 2001, p. 134).

A dynamic fusion of the artist's own memory and subconscious response to the forms of the world around him, Severini's 'analogical' approach led to a formalized marrying of seemingly strange and unconnected objects within the picture frame - a pictorial expression of what Marinetti called the 'deep love that connects distant and apparently diverse and hostile things' (Filippo Marinetti, 'Technical Manifesto Futurism', 1912, quoted in ibid., p. 132). In this way, in Severini's mind and consequently therefore on the picture plane too, the movement and form of a dancer becomes also that of the sea.

Referring to this work in the manifesto that he wrote at this time to explain his new paintings, Severini explained 'the sea, with its dancing-on-the spot, zigzag movements and scintillating contrasts of silver and emerald conjures up in my plastic sensibility the far-off vision of a dancer covered with glittering paillettes, in her surroundings of light, noise and sound. Hence sea=dancer' (Gino Severini, 'The Plastic Analogues of Dynamism', 1914, (first published 1958) quoted in ibid., p. 132).

Expressive of a fusion of disparate form and motion on both an intuitive and molecular level, this work is essentially the formal blueprint for his masterpiece of this style Mer=Danseuse. In it Severini has cleverly formulated through a stylized depiction of the dancer's sequined dress flowing in motion a dynamic and near-abstract composition, that strongly expresses something of the elemental nature, rhythm, movement and emotive power of dance.

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