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In context

The unexpected expression – works by André Lanskoy

Lots to be sold at Uppsala Auktionskammare’s Important Sale: Modern & Contemporary 9 – 12 November 2021

“J’aime le plus Lanskoy et de Staël qui sont les plus abstraits, qui ne suivent ni Matisse, ni Bonnard, ni même Picasso” (My favorites are Lanskoy and de Staël, who are the most abstract and follow neither Matisse nor Bonnard, nor even Picasso.)

– Jeanne Bucher in a letter to artist Maria Helena Vieira da Silva and Arpad Szenes 28 May 1945.

Painter and printmaker André Lanskoy was born in Moscow but spent most of his life in France, where he moved in 1921. Upon his arrival in Paris, Lanskoy said: ”Literally in the first night I started to paint and I haven’t stopped since.” He studied painting at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and the bursting city of Paris drew him to frequent visits to museums, art exhibitions and galleries. The works of James Ensor and Vincent van Gogh and their expressive brushstrokes and colour palette particularly fascinated him and in his early still lifes, interiors and landscapes this is highly noticeable. While living in Paris, Lanskoy developed close friendships with Serge Poliakoff, Jean-Michel Coulon and later Nicolas de Staël. 

His early works were mainly figurative, as shown in his first group exhibition with Russian painters at the La Licorne Gallery in Paris 1923. The important German collector and art dealer Wilhelm Uhde discovered Lanskoy at the Salon d’Automne in 1924 and started to collect his works. The following year, a solo exhibition was organized with the help of Uhde where numerous works were acquired by prominent museums and collectors. Together with other Russian artists living in Paris, such as Robert and Sonia Delaunay, Leopold Survage and Ossip Zadkine, Lanskoy continued to show his works and began to attract a larger crowd. In 1937, Lanskoy’s focus shifted from the figurative motifs towards a more abstract style and from 1942 he devoted himself completely to the abstract expressionism. The artist stated: ”Even though every brushstroke represents for itself a transformed reality, it receives its true meaning in the context of surrounding shades of color.” The following decades played a major part in Lanskoy’s life as he exhibited his works at a number of important galleries in Paris and abroad, such as the 1948 show at the Galerie Louis Carré in Paris, 1951 at the Galerie Jacques Dubourg, 1953 at The Tooth and Sons Gallery and 1959 at the Loeb Gallery in New York. Throughout his life, he continued to explore the interaction between colour and form. His bright abstract compositions are characterized by patterns and rhythm, inspired by the intriguing works of Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky. 

Included in the sale are several works by André Lanskoy belonging to his later oeuvre. The monumental work with bold colours against a purple background dates from 1960. The same year the Guggenheim Museum purchased one of his recent paintings, “Lecture à voix basse” from 1957. From the same Swedish private collection are two additional works from 1961 and 1974 respectively. They all exude a sense of movement, but expressed differently. In the larger canvas, fields of thicker paint creating a pattern build up the composition, typical for his works from the 1950s and early 1960s. A similar style is noticed in the oil from 1961, however the pattern becomes more loose and swirling which is developed further in the latest work. Lanskoy explained: “A brushstroke laid on a canvas seeks a form and fights against the other forms laid out on the same canvas. When the fight ends with an agreement, a world is created within the painting that imposes its own laws and possesses its own language.”

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Jeanna Ahlin


Modern och samtida konst
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