Franciszka Themerson (1907-1988)
Franciszka Themerson (1907-1988)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM THE STUDIO OF FRANCISZKA THEMERSON
Franciszka Themerson (1907-1988)

Existences Impures (Impure Existences)

Details
Franciszka Themerson (1907-1988)
Existences Impures (Impure Existences)
signed and dated 'Themerson 62' (lower left)
oil on canvas, in artist's frame
canvas: 30 1/8 x 40 1/8in. (76.5 x 102cm.)
overall: 31 3/8 x 41 3/8in. (79.6 x 105cm.)
Painted in 1962
Provenance
The Artist.
Thence by descent to the present owner.
Exhibited
London, Drian Galleries, A Retrospective Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings by Franciszka Themerson, 1963, no. 45.
Gdansk, Laznia Centre for Contemporary Art, Complex Existences, 2019.
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.

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Lot Essay

‘As usual the title of this very busy painting doesn’t seem to offer the clues we need to understand what is happening on the canvas. Or, am I wrong? Perhaps it does offer clues if you look at the painting very carefully and try to read the lines attempting to isolate the interdependent images, if you count the figures involved, each one busy in its own space. In between the excised lines there are people in profile, with round heads and delicate hands crowding each other out. We see a tumultuous world, which includes, as it happens from time to time in Franciszka Themerson’s paintings, the artist’s self-portrait. identified here by her very large incised eyes. In reality they were blue, but here there is no colour.’ – Jasia Reichardt

Spectral forms emerge and vanish in the dense impasto and visceral scratched surface of Franciszka Themerson’s Existences Impures (Impure Existences). Painted in 1962 and included in the artist’s 2019 retrospective at CCA Laznia, Gdansk, Existences Impures is an uninhibited painting, a stunning vortex of form and figure. Characteristic of the works of this period, Themerson has bleached most of the colour from her canvas, and her figures emerge out of a predominantly monochromatic ground; as if summoned from the white expanse, the faces and bodies seem caught in a space of eternal renewal and transformation revealed in the patterning. Using the handle of a paintbrush, she married image and medium by incising her grooved characters directly into the paint. The unwavering, fluid lines manifest the artist’s superb talent in draughtsmanship already in evidence during her student days at the Warsaw Academy. Born in Poland, Themerson moved first to Paris in 1938 to be at the epicentre of the art world and then to London thereafter. In addition to theatre design and painting, she also forged a thriving career as a children’s illustrator, and with her husband Stefan, co-founded Gaberbocchus Press. That these caricatures and scenes appear almost whimsical belies their technical prowess; drawing underpinned nearly all elements of Themerson’s paintings. Describing her work during the 1960s, the artist’s most prolific years, critic Jasia Reichardt noted that Themerson’s geometries had become ‘subsumed by the human forms which invaded the total space of the canvas’ (J. Reichardt, interview on Franciszka Themerson, London, 2019). Although her images verged on the abstract, Themerson’s subject was always the human condition in all its manifold, intangible forms.

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