Modern & Samtida konst + Design
Till katalogen »
To be sold at our Important Sale: Modern & Contemporary Art + Design 8 – 10 November 2023
Lot 417 Affandi (Indonesia 1907‑1990). Portrait of the Loujetzky family. Signed with monogram and dated 1952 upper right. With dedication ”Aangename herinneringen, aan familie Loujetzky. Affandi”. Oil on canvas, 100 x 116 cm.
The present portrait depicts gallery owner Paul Loujetzky (1898‑1964) and probably his wife Anna Cornelia Cames van Batenburg (1884-1963), The Hague. The second woman is probably also a relative to the Loujetzky family.
200.000 – 300.000 SEK
€ 17.000 – 26.000
Possibly gallery owner and art dealer Paul Loujetzky (1898‑1964) and his wife Anna Cornelia Cames van Batenburg (1884‑1963), The Hague.
Advertising consultant Bengt Olausson (1931‑2018).
Thence by descent to the present owner.
Recently appearing from a private Swedish collection, this striking portrait by the Indonesian painter Affandi is an important addition to the artist’s oeuvre. In 1952, the same year as the present work was executed, gallery owner Paul Loujetzky opened the doors to an exhibition with works by Affandi held at Galerie Loujetzky in the Hague, the Netherlands. Probably intended to be presented as a gift from the artist to Paul Loujetzky, Affandi portrayed the family Loujetzky gathered around a table and dedicated the work to his friend in Dutch: ”Aangename herinneringen, aan familie Loujetzky. Affandi” [”Pleasant memories, for the family Loujetzky. Affandi”]. Now set to make its auction debut, this fascinating portrait presents the opportunity to acquire one of Affandi’s early examples of expressionism.
Affandi was born in 1907 in Crebon, West Java, and grew up with a father who was a surveyor at a local sugar factory. Already from an early age Affandi showed artistic talent and wanted to pursue an artistic career. Despite his father’s wishes for him to become a doctor, Affandi gave up his studies and from 1934 began to teach himself how to paint and draw. His only masters were reproductions of famous artworks that he found in copies of Studio, an art magazine from London. Unlike young artists in Europe, who learned about the new emerging art movements in France and Germany, Affandi did not discover modern art until the late 1930s. The first exhibition of major Western artists such as Gauguin, Kandinsky and Picasso was held in Batavia (today’s Jakarta), and Affandi found himself fascinated by the new era. The mixture of strong colours and the unstrained compositions had a huge impact on his own artistic style and from the 1940s he began to paint more seriously. To earn money he worked as a billboard artist and cinema ticket-collector, and sometimes he even painted houses. He saved paint buckets from his various jobs and used them to experiment with landscape painting, paintings he started to exhibit and sell every month. From now on, he devoted himself to art two weeks every month after the first weeks of work.
Mostly famous for his own style of expressionism, Affandi began to experiment within the movement in the early 1950s. He wanted his art to be expressive rather than beautiful, relating to the ideas of Vincent van Gogh, and focused on transmitting inner feelings instead of only depicting the outside. The present portrait was made only a year before Affandi discovered his famous painting technique called ”squeezing the tube”, which allowed him to put paint directly onto the canvas from the tube and then use his hands. His portrait of the Loujetzky family reveals Affandi’s warm feelings for the three sitters, as he depicted the family in a spectacular colour palette of deep blue, warm yellow and bright green and red. They are portrayed sitting together in a sofa, elegantly dressed and prepared to be captured by the Indonesian expressionist. The two women, one of them most likely being Paul Loujetzky’s wife Anna Cornelia Cames van Batenburg, are facing the artist while Paul Loujetzky, sitting on the right, rests his hands on his knees and looks the other way. Clearly a family portrait but yet surprisingly spontaneous in its expression, Affandi added new dimensions to the colourful interior by resembling a shining sun behind the women and creating an irregular pattern on the sofa and table. What comes across as a tilted painting in a carved out frame behind the left woman might be a reference to Affandi’s famous symbol seen above his signature, which is visible in many of his works from this period. The painting was not listed in the exhibition catalogue for the 1952 exhibition held at Paul Loujetzky’s gallery in the Hague, as it was probably presented as a gift from the artist to Paul Loujetzky.
Like thousands of Russians, Paul Loujetzky had emigrated to the Netherlands in the early 1920s to escape the First World War and the Russian Revolution. His nephew Leonid Sologoub (1884-1956) invited him to the Netherlands and he came from a refugee camp in the former Constantinople. Together with his nephew, Loujetzky transformed a former music school on Mauritsplein in the Hague into an art gallery. They called the gallery ”The Kunstzaal Kunst van One Tijd”, or sometimes also Galerie Loujetzky, and opened their first exhibition in 1935 with works by Sologoub. Sologoub is probably the artist behind the portrait of Paul Loujetzky which can be compared to the later portrait of him in Affandi’s painting. Over the years, Paul Loujetzky exhibited hundreds of artists and opened a new exhibition every month. The gallery became an important meeting point, especially for Russian emigrated artists, but also for artists from other parts of the world. As can be understood from the introduction page in the exhibition catalogue from 1952 written by the representative of the Republic of Indonesia, the Affandi exhibition was organised to help spread information about different cultural expressions and to maintain a good relationship between the two countries.
Affandi is regarded as one of the leading figures of modern art in Indonesia. In Yogakarta, where Affandi lived since 1945, he designed a free-form house which today holds around 250 of his paintings. When Affandi passed away on 23 May 1990, he was buried in the museum complex as he wished to always stay close to his works and family. ■