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Varvara Stepanova (1894-1958)
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price plus bu… Read more PROPERTY FROM THE SACKNER ARCHIVES, FLORIDA
Varvara Stepanova (1894-1958)

Three Figures

Varvara Stepanova (1894-1958)
Three Figures
signed in Cyrillic and dated '21' (lower right)
gouache, watercolour, brush and India ink and coloured pencils on buff paper
11 x 14 in. (28 x 35.4 cm.)
Executed in 1921
Museum of Modern Art, New York (no. 32.36), a gift from the artist in 1936.
De-accessioned by the above in 1980.
Rosa Esman Gallery, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owners in 1981.
New York, Esman Gallery, The Russian Revolution in Art-2, May 1980, no. 18.
Miami, The Lowe Art Museum, The Russian Avant-Garde and American Abstract Artists, March - April, 1983, no. 26.
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Lot Essay

Throughout Stepanova's oeuvre it is the human figure that dominates her compositional landscape. Always resolved in the most schematic of ways, the human body is transformed into a machine, or even a robot, as Costakis, one of the artist's early followers, preferred to call them. The anatomic, narrative description of individual faces held little interest for Stepanova. Particularly from 1919 onwards, she focused on the rendition of movement and dynamic actions in a new pictorial production identified as 'Theatrical Constructivism'. Her stage designs and costumes were inspired by simple geometric shapes and functional forms, yet enlivened by a strong sense of the ornament. In Three Figures, the varying thickness of lines, crisscrossed to create an almost relief-like surface, convey an expressive textural richness and very modern effect of découpage.

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