MARLOW MOSS (1889-1958)
MARLOW MOSS (1889-1958)
MARLOW MOSS (1889-1958)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE COLLECTION
MARLOW MOSS (1889-1958)

Spheres and Curved Line

MARLOW MOSS (1889-1958)
Spheres and Curved Line
signed 'marlow moss' (on the edge of the base)
bronze, copper and aluminium on a white-painted wooden base, unique
13 in. (33 cm.) wide
Conceived in 1945.
Purchased by the present owner at the 1975 exhibition.
Exhibition catalogue, Marlow Moss: Bilder, Konstruktionen, Zeichnungen, Zürich, Gimpel & Hanover Galerie, 1973, n.p., no. 32, illustrated, as 'Zwei Kugeln mit gebogenem Kupferdraht'.
F. Dijkstra, Marlow Moss: Constructivist + the Reconstruction Project, Penzance, 1995, pp. 34, 40, no. B4, illustrated.
S. Schaschl (ed.), exhibition catalogue, Marlow Moss: A Forgotten Maverick, Zürich, Museum Haus Konstruktiv, 2017, pp. 67, 123, illustrated.
Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Marlow Moss, March - April 1962, no. 49, as bollen en gebogen lijn.
Middelburg, Gemeentehuis, Marlow Moss, April 1972, exhibition not numbered.
Zürich, Gimpel & Hanover Galerie, Marlow Moss: Bilder, Konstruktionen, Zeichnungen, December 1973 - January 1974, no. 32, as 'Zwei Kugeln mit gebogenem Kupferdraht'.
London, Gimpel Fils, Marlow Moss: constructions, drawings, paintings, April - May 1975, no. 32.
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. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

Brought to you by

Angus Granlund
Angus Granlund Director, Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

“[The aim of my art] is to express in its totality the artist's awareness of the universe.” - Marlow Moss

Spheres and Curved Line of 1945, is an exquisite example of the sculptural oeuvre of Marlow Moss – an extraordinary and unique British artist. It encapsulates her tenet of ‘space, movement and light’, and is pristine, as she intended. It is also very rare, as although Moss’ works are held in public collections worldwide, sculptures can only be found in the UK (Leeds, City Art Gallery; Tate, London) and the Netherlands (Kröller-Müller Museum) – although they are in a small number of private collections, and one marks the grave of Moss’s lifelong partner the Dutch author Antoinette Nijhoff-Wind, in a small churchyard in Walcheren.

Conceived in-the-round, the viewer is compelled to circle this sculpture, in perpetuity. A Platonic conception of space has it that the ‘point’ (before the line, and then the plane) is the origin of both space and time – this is surely the implication of the sphere, although of course there are two in this work, a pluralism or doubling that is a reoccurring motif for Moss. The forms are simultaneously atomic and planetary; the orbiting line recalls a Möbius strip.

Moss was born in Kilburn, northwest London, but she grew up in the household of her uncle in Richmond after her Jewish father’s death when she was 8. She suffered from tuberculosis as he had, and her childhood and youth were characterised by a certain amount of illness and alienation. She established herself, after adopting a new mode of dress and a name-change, as an avant-garde artist in Paris, in 1927. It was there that she met Nijhoff, and also, through her, Piet Mondrian who became a lifelong friend and guiding light.

The influence of other artist-friends, the Belgian Georges Vantongerloo and the Swiss Max Bill, are most significant to this work – sculpture became Moss’ metier later in life (although she continued to make paintings, reliefs and drawings). Spheres and Curved Line was made in Cornwall after the war had forced Moss from Europe – her home and studio outside Paris was requisitioned and then bombed. Isolated from her contemporaries, short of paint supplies and excluded by ‘St Ives’, Moss did not follow Mondrian’s advice and head for New York, but began a new and fruitful period of work alone. Moving away from the neo-plastic aesthetic of her paintings, she developed a language for sculpture through extensive drawing practice. She exhibited at a tiny gallery in Mousehole, Cornwall.

In the 1970s Spheres and Curved Line was exhibited in a solo show at Willie Rotzler’s Gimpel & Hanover Galerie in Zürich and then Gimpel Fils in London. A small catalogue was produced with essays by Moss’s old friend Bill, and the Dutch journalist, poet and friend of the Nijhoff family, Andreas Oosthoek. It had previously been included in the 1962 exhibition ‘Marlow Moss’ at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and it is from that catalogue that we take our title.

In Moss’s piece for the Parisian cahier Abstraction Création: Art Non-Figuratif of 1932, she wrote that the aim of her art was to 'exprimer en totalité la conscience de l’artiste envers l’univers' (express in its totality the artist's awareness of the universe). She is simultaneously concerned with the microcosm and the macrocosm, herself and everything outside of herself. Consciousness and the universe are mutually defined, and sometimes even interchangeable. Moss’s Spheres and Curved Line expresses this, and represents a distinct and cogent achievement within the constructive tradition of art.

We are very grateful to Dr Lucy Howarth for preparing this catalogue entry.

Dr Howarth co-curated the exhibition Marlow Moss: a Forgotten Maverick at Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Zürich in 2017, and the Tate display, that toured from Tate St Ives to Hastings Contemporary, Leeds City Art Gallery and Tate Britain. She has published multiple times on Moss, and her 2019 book in the ‘Modern Women Artists’ series is available from Eiderdown Books.

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