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Serge Poliakoff

Composition abstraite

Hammered for SEK 540.000 at Uppsala Auktionskammares Important Sale 13-15 June 2018

366. Serge Poliakoff (Russia/France 1906‑1969). Composition abstraite. Signed Serge Poliakoff. Gouache, 48.5 x 62.5 cm.

Executed ca. 1959.

The collection of the banker and artist Nils Åman, Stockholm. Probably acquired during the early 1960’s at Svensk-Franska Konstgalleriet, Stockholm.
Thence by inheritance to the present owner.


Born in Moscow on the 8th of January 1900, the Russian painter Serge Poliakoff became one of the most important abstract painters of postwar Europe. After fleeing revolutionary Russia in 1917, Poliakoff made a short stop in Constantinopel before arriving in Paris in 1923. While earning his living as a musician, Serge’s interest in the art of painting grew and in 1929 he enrolled in both Académie Forchot and Académie de la Grande Chaumière. During his first period in the French capital, Poliakoff’s work were mainly focused on classic academic subjects such as nudes, nature and horses. However this came to change in 1935 when Serge Poliakoff again moved, this time to London where he enrolled in the Slade School of Fine Art. From now on the abstract side of art and the layering of paint became a subject of interest for the 35-year old Poliakoff.

A few years later Serge once again set sail for Paris. Poliakoff’s second spell in Paris came to be a period of immerse studies in the art of colourful abstract painting. A great source of inspiration was his new aquaintance and fellow countryman Wassily Kandinsky. Further inspiration was drawn from the artist couple of Sonia and Robert Delaunay as well as the sculptor Otto Freundlich, all working with abstract colourful art.

Poliakoff’s work now developed in a way where he let colour itself form the context of the painting and like all abstract painters Poliakoff became concerned with the relationships between line and surface, form and content, colour and light. During the late 1940’s Poliakoff also developed his very special way of abstract painting, arranging different fields of colour alongside one another and he came to be a front figure for the École de Paris.

Poliakoff’s early post-war work is often characterized by his use of earthy colours such as shades of brown and grey. However, in the late 1940’s and 1950’s the palette changed to become brighter and more contrasting. The painting included in this sale is a colourful composition composed by different shades of blue, a motif he returned to several times during the late 1950’s and 1960’s. Poliakoff himself declared, “The painting should be monumental, that is to say larger than its dimensions”.

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