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John Graham (1881-1961)
Property from a Private American Collection 
John Graham (1881-1961)

Head and Egg

Details
John Graham (1881-1961)
Head and Egg
signed and dated 'Graham 936' (upper left)
oil on canvas
32 x 45¾ in. (81.3 x 116.2 cm.)
Exhibited
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, 3rd Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting, November 10 - December 10, 1936.

Lot Essay

Escaping imprisonment and narrowly avoiding death during the Russian Revolution, John Graham emigrated to America and began his formal artistic training in New York City. During his time at the famed Art Students League, Graham studied under the tutelage of the influential American artist, John Sloan.

While working in both Paris and New York, Graham developed a distinctive artistic style that echoes the stark, minimalistic lines often seen in works by Pablo Picasso and Giorgio de Chirico. Although Graham's methods and techniques vary, they consistently express an intense emotional depth in their animated brushwork and serene colors.
Graham's depiction of a simplified still-life arrangement makes Head and Egg an excellent example of the artist's work and reveals European modernism's distinct influence on modern American painting. The sculptural blue and gray head dominates the right side of the canvas while a large black and blue oval egg fills most of the space to the left of the head. Each object is reduced to the most essential lines and the overall lack of depth pushes the objects forward on the canvas. This study of form and line is painted in predominantly cool tones of green, blue, black and gray and the wide brushwork and hatching and cross-hatching gives the canvas a deliberately textured look, producing an overall effect of calm and balance.
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