Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Kazimir Malevich at Auction



Sotheby’s 24th June 2015 


 
Sotheby’s has announced that its forthcoming Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on 24th June 2015 will feature Kazimir Malevich’s Suprematism, 18th Construction of 1915. Appearing at auction for the first time –a century after it was painted -the work comes to sale directly from the artist’s family and is estimated at £20-30m/ $30-45m.

Kazimir Malevich’s 'Suprematist' canvases –of which Suprematism, 18th Construction is an outstanding, pure example -are his greatest achievements. Their majestic purity echoesthroughout the visuallanguage of modern art, architecture and design. In the last 25 years only three major works by Malevich have been sold at auction, the most recent of which (Suprematist Composition from 1916 - see 2008 below) was sold in 2008 at Sotheby’s New York for a record $60 million. Suprematism, 18th Construction shares the same exceptional provenance and we are honoured to have been entrusted by the artist’s family once more. Appreciation for works by Malevich is now more global than ever before,and with so few oft hese rare early Suprematist works remaining in private hands, the sale presents one of the last opportunities to acquire one.” Helena Newman, Sotheby’s Co-Head of Impressionist & Modern Art

The History and Significance of Suprematism, 18th Construction

Suprematism, 18th Construction dates from the height of the artist’s career, a period that marked the epitome of revolutionary abstraction and placed Malevich as one of the most important international artists of the 20th Century. It was held in the collection of the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, for fifty years before being restituted to the artist’s family. This work was included in the first ever showing of Suprematist pictures in November 1915 at the Exhibition of Modern Decorative Art in Moscow, which preceded the seminal 0,10: Last Futurist Exhibition of Painting sheld in Saint Petersburg (at the time Petrograd) in1915-16–an exhibition that was to establish Malevich, alongside Popova and Tatlin,as one of the most influential artists of his era.

In 1927, Malevich accompanied Suprematism,18th Construction to an exhibition in Berlin, introducing Western Europe to the unprecedented aesthetic that he had devised. In June 1927, the artist was obliged to return to the Soviet Union and arranged for the paintings to be stored in Berlin, but he was prevented from leaving the Soviet Union, where he died in 1935. Suprematism,18th Construction was later entrusted to the German architect Hugo Häring, who purportedly sold it to the Stedelijk Museum. It was finally returned to the artist's heirs after a historic settlement was reached with the City of Amsterdam following a 17-year struggle.

Most recently, the work was included in Tate Modern’s critically acclaimed retrospective of 2014, and it has been requested by the Fondation Beyeler to be loaned for their forthcoming reconstruction of the 0,10 Exhibition.

Malevich and the Evolution of Suprematism

Malevich’s art heralded a new succinct language of abstract forms and bold colour planes which was as revolutionary as the Cubisma nd Futurism rom which it emerged. Suprematism was rooted in Malevich’s desire to move beyond traditional representation towards an art of pure colour and geometric form and proposed something new in that it rejected a subjective basis or theme.

“Colour and texture in painting are ends in themselves,” he wrote in his 1916 treatise.

The genesis of Suprematist painting was preceded by Malevich’s experiences as a young artist of the fledgling Russian avant-garde. In 1907 he was invited to exhibit with notables such as Wassily Kandinsky and Mikhail Larionov at the Association of Moscow Artists. Around 1914, Malevich became a leader of the Russian Futurist movement, and began taking bolder steps with his painting. By the spring and summer of 1915, he finally discarded all reference to figuration in favour of coloured, unadorned geometric shapes on a white background and painted strikingly reductive compositions.

In 1915, the artist wrote a lengthy treatise about these paintings commonly known as the “Suprematist Manifesto”, which was published in Moscow in 1916.Unlike Soutine and Chagall, who left their native country in search of artistic inspiration in France, Malevich remained in Russia through the turbulent years following the revolution. Born in the Ukraine in 1878, he enrolled in the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in 1905 and remained in that city throughout the 1910s. His early paintings from 1910-13 were not without reference to the French avant-garde, and incorporated a variation of the Cubist aesthetic made popular by Picasso and Braque. But as his painting developed, Malevich began reinterpreting the styles of Cubism, as well as Italian Futurism, and devised an artistic philosophy that was decidedly his own. Suprematism rejected the idea of objective representation and eliminated any references to nature.

The international breakthrough of Malevich’s career didnot occur until the seminal 1927 exhibition, Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung, in which Suprematism, 18th Construction was featured alongside seventy other of the artist’s works.


 Sotheby’s November 3, 2008 



On the evening of November 3, 2008, Sotheby’s presented for sale, Suprematist Composition from 1916 by Kazimir Malevich, a work renowned as a premier painting from one of the most sophisticated and innovative artistic movements of the 20thcentury. Regarded as an icon of Russian art and a paradigmatic example of the 20thcentury avant-garde, the masterwork was executed in 1916, the same year that Malevich published his Suprematist Manifesto. The painting had been featured in the collection of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam for the past fifty years before being restituted to the artist’s family. It has been included in every major exhibition of Malevich’s work ever mounted – both inside Russia and abroad, and was selected by the artist for his first ever exhibition to a Western audience in 1927. It sold for $60 million.

Suprematist Composition is a magnificent modern work of art of enormous art historical importance and cultural resonance,” said Emmanuel Di-Donna, Vice Chairman, Impressionist and Modern Art Worldwide and Head of Sotheby’s Evening Sales, New York. “It ranks amongst the finest paintings of the 20thCentury, on a par with the best paintings of modern masters such as Picasso, Rothko, Pollock and de Kooning that have ever come up for sale either at auction or privately. Never has a work by the artist of such significance, lyricism and vibrancy appeared on the market and it is a great privilege for Sotheby’s to be offering it at auction in November.” 

A brilliant constellation of geometry and color in space, Suprematist Composition embodies what Malevich considered to be the pinnacle of artistic expression. As he did with his other major compositions from1915-16, the artist’s primary mode of expression here is an assemblyof shapes and colors, plotted systematically on canvas. 

“Color and texture in painting are ends in themselves,” he wrote in his 1916 treatise. Suprematism was rooted in Malevich’s desire to move beyond traditional representation towards an art of pure color and geometric form. While this radical idea had its origins in Cubism and Futurism, Suprematism proposed something new in that it rejected a subjective basis or theme. 

Jo Vickery, Senior Director and Head of Sotheby’s Russian Art Department, London, commented, “With the sale of Malevich's 1916 Suprematist Composition, it feels as though history has come full circle: we have a blazing debut of early Suprematist art at the top of the international art market. It’s an historical moment of a personal dimension for the artist's family, and for us all a chance toreconsider Malevich's unique contribution to art history. He dreamt of creating a kind of art which would speak to all nations equally and his pioneering abstract paintings cut through old ways of defining art, as well as breaking downpolitical and national boundaries.” 

Suprematist Composition made its debut in one of the first important shows of the artist’s work at the 16thState Exhibition in Moscow in 1919-20, which established Malevich as one of the most influential artists of his era. In 1927, the Malevich accompanied this picture to exhibitions in Warsaw and Berlin, introducing Western Europe to the unprecedented aesthetic that he had devised. 

In June 1927, the artist was obliged to return to the Soviet Union and arranged for the paintings to be stored in Berlin, but he was prevented from leaving the Soviet Union, where he died in 1935. 

Suprematist Composition was later entrusted to the German architect Hugo Häring, who purportedly sold it to the Stedelijk Museum. It was finally returned to the artist's heirs after a historic settlement was reached with the City of Amsterdam following a 17-year struggle. 

The Heirs of Kazimir Malevich issued a statement through a spokesperson as follows: “The Malevich family is delighted that this masterpiece by our renowned ancestor is being brought to market by Sotheby's. The sale confirms Kazimir Malevich's place in the pantheon of 20th century masters.” 

The genesis of Suprematist painting was preceded by Malevich’s experiences as a young artist of the fledgling Russian avant-garde. In 1907 he was invited to exhibit with notables such as Wassily Kandinsky and Mikhail Larionov Association of Moscow Artists. Around 1914, Malevich became a leader of the Russian Futurist movement, and began taking bolder steps with his painting. Bythe spring and summer of 1915, he finally discarded all reference to figuration in favor of colored, unadorned geometric shapes on a white background and painted strikingly reductive compositions. In 1915, the artist wrote a lengthy treatise about these paintings commonly known as the “Suprematist Manifesto”, which was published in Moscow in 1916. 

Unlike the Soutine and Chagall, who left their native country in search of artistic inspiration in France, Malevich remained in Russia through the turbulent years following the revolution. Born in the Ukraine in 1878, he enrolled in the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in 1905 and remained in that citythroughout the 1910s. His early paintings from 1910-13 were not without reference to the French avant-garde, and incorporated a variation of the Cubist aesthetic made popular by Picasso and Braque. 

But as his painting developed, Malevich began reinterpreting the styles of Cubism, as well as Italian Futurism, and devised an artistic philosophy that was decidedly his own. Suprematism rejected the idea of objective representation and eliminated any references to nature. The international breakthrough of Malevich’s career did not occur until the seminal 1927 exhibition, Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung, in which Suprematist Composition was featured alongside seventy other of the artist’s works. 




 SOTHEBY’S MAY 6, 2003



Sotheby’s offered for sale, on behalf of the heirs of Kazimir Malevich, his Suprematist Painting, Rectangle and Circle from 1915.

This painting was taken out of Nazi Germany in 1938 to ensure its safety and was brought to the United States by a museum curator. It was subsequently entrusted to the Busch-Reisinger Museum at Harvard University prior to its return to Malevich’s heirs in 1999.

Estimated to sell for $5/7 million, this painting was sold in Sotheby’s May 2003 Part I sale of Impressionist and Modern art. Kazimir Malevich’s Suprematist paintings are among the most compelling works of 20th century art.

Composed of geometric shapes and a limited range of colors, these pictures exalt the beauty of pure form and color. One of the artist’s earliest explorations of this style of painting is Suprematist Painting, Rectangle and Circle, which Malevich completed in 1915 in the midst of writing his “Suprematist Manifesto.”

This work is one of his best known compositions, as it was featured in one of the first important exhibitions of the artist’s work at 16th State Exhibition in Moscow in 1919-20 and also in a retrospective of Malevich’s work in Berlin in 1927. From 1957 to 1999, this work was entrusted to Harvard University’s Busch-Reisinger Museum. With its sharply defined black and blue forms set against a field of white, Malevich considered this composition to be the pinnacle of artistic expression and “the creation of intuitive reason.

As one of Malevich’s premiere Suprematist creations, Suprematist Painting, Rectangle and Circle demonstrates the liberation of form and the celebration of the abstract in an extreme manner that was unmatched by avant-garde artists of the day. Unlike the Russian artists Soutine and Chagall who left their native country in search of artistic inspiration in France, Malevich remained in Russia during the critical period of transformation and revolution and was a key figure in the revival of Russian art and culture during this period.

Born in the Ukraine in 1878, the artist enrolled in the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in 1905 and remained in that city throughout the 1910s. His early paintings from 1910-13 were not without reference to the French avant-garde, and incorporated a variation of the Cubist aesthetic made popular by Picasso and Braque. But as his painting developed, Malevich began reinterpreting the styles of Cubism, as well as Italian Futurism, and devised an artistic philosophy that was decidedly his own.

Suprematism revered the beauty of speed that had been championed by Futurism and Cubism's fragmenting of objects. In contrast to these two movements, Suprematism rejected the idea of objective representation and eliminated any references to nature.

At the time of Malevich’s death in 1935, Suprematist Painting, Rectangle and Circle was at the Provinzialmuseum (later renamed the Landesmuseum) in Hanover, Germany. Around this time, the National Socialists began censoring avant-garde works of art believed to be “degenerate,”and the present painting was at risk of seizure by the German government. The museum’s director, Alexander Dorner, who was an avid supporter of the Russian avant-garde, was entrusted to save this work and took it with him to the United States in 1938 for safe keeping.

At the time of Dorner’s death in 1957, the picture was left to the Busch-Reisinger Museum at Harvard University with the stipulation that it was to be on “extended loan and to be indicated as such by the museum.” The painting was returned to the Malevich family in 1999.


Sotheby's 2015




LOT SOLD. 5,749,000 GBP 

Sotheby's 2014




LOT SOLD. 2,098,500 GBP