PROPERTY FROM THE SERGE AND VALLY SABARSKY COLLECTIONThroughout his long career, Kubin was fascinated by the melodramatic and macabre. His oeuvre is comprised of dark, fantastical creations and mystical representations of sex, death, and the beyond. Heavily influenced by the occult beliefs of Symbolist circles, Kubin synthesized popular motifs of his time with his own disturbing autobiography. The artist did not meet his father, a land surveyor for the monarchy, until age 2. As a young boy, he witnessed his mother’s death and was seduced by an older, pregnant woman. These events marred the artist’s life as a young adult. At 19, he tried to commit suicide on his mother’s grave; later, in the army, he had a nervous breakdown. In 1898, he moved to Munich to study art, however he soon abandoned his lessons at the Akademie der schönen Künste. Drawn towards writing and philosophy, Kubin studied the works of Friedrich Nietzsche and Arthur Schopenhauer, as well as the newly released The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud. He read and illustrated Gogol, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Edgar Allan Poe. These writings offered countless points of departure for Kubin to investigate the agony of the human condition in his art. Christie’s is delighted to offer four exceptional works on paper by Kubin from the Serge and Vally Sabarsky collection. These works, created during his most anxious and productive period in which he often drew in spurts prompted by fevers and hallucinations, beautifully illustrate the artist’s interest in the exploration of contemporary society and the depths of the human psyche. They are exquisite examples of the artist’s refined draftsmanship; fine layers of ink and wash are applied to achieve a delicate texture within a highly detailed rendering. In these works, monsters, demons and mythical beasts roam free and humans abandon themselves to bestial impulses. Kubin’s fantastical and nightmarish visions of unimaginable and unprecedented scenes of hell and the end of humanity on Earth would soon become real on Europe’s battlefields. With his sensitive antennae, the artist was capable of translating these visions into iconic images that still speak to and disturb the viewer today. The present group of drawings, which rank among the highest quality of his oeuvre, are bold in subject and composition yet subtle and refined in technique.
Alfred Kubin (1877-1959)
Alfred Kubin (1877-1959)
signed 'Kubin' (extreme lower right) and titled 'Das Couplet.' (extreme lower left)
pen and India ink, inkwash and pencil on paper
Image size: 9 7/8 x 8 ½ in. (25 x 21.7 cm.)
Sheet size: 12 7/8 x 12 ¼ in. (32.4 x 31.1 cm.)
(possibly) Hans von Weber, Munich.
Galerie Welz, Salzburg.
Serge Sabarsky Gallery, New York (acquired from the above, December 1971).
Armin Allen, New York (acquired from the above).
Acquired from the above by the late owners, April 1976.
G. Sebba, Kubin's Dance of Death and Other Drawings, New York, 1973, p. 77 (illustrated).
O. Breicha, ed., Alfred Kubin: Bilder und Schriften zu Leben und Werk, exh. cat., Galerie Welz, Salzburg, 1977, p. 43 (illustrated, fig. 31).
O. Breicha, ed., Alfred Kubin Weltgeflecht: Ein Kubin-Kompendium, Schriften und Bilder zu Leben und Werk, Salzburg, 1978, p. 43 (illustrated, fig. 31; dated circa 1900).
New York, Serge Sabarsky Gallery, Alfred Kubin: An Exhibition of Drawings and Watercolors, December 1970-January 1971, no. 4 (illustrated on the exhibition invitation).
New York, Galerie St. Etienne, Max Klinger, Käthe Kollwitz, Alfred Kubin: A Study in Influences, March-June 1990, no. 23 (dated circa 1900 and titled The Song).
New York, Neue Galerie, From Klimt to Klee: Masterworks of the Serge Sabarsky Collection, October 2009-February 2010, p. 26, no. 6 (illustrated in color; dated circa 1900).
New York, Galerie St. Etienne, Alternate Histories: Celebrating 75 Years of Galerie St. Etienne, January 2014-April 2015.
New York, Neue Galerie, Expressionist Nudes, February 2016-June 2016.
New York, Galerie St. Etienne, The Art Dealer as Scholar, July 2019-October 2019.