Lot 77
  • 77

Alexandra Exter

80,000 - 120,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Alexandra Exter
  • Still Life with Candelabra
  • signed in Latin l.r.
  • oil on canvas
  • 74 by 90cm, 29 1/4 by 35 1/2 in.


Acquired directly from the artist by Ihnno Ezratty, Paris
Thence by descent


G.Kovalenko, Alexandra Exter, vol.2, Moscow: Moscow Museum of Modern Art, 2010, p.169 illustrated

Catalogue Note

Even during her periods of association with Italian Futurism and French Purism, with their focus on the inorganic and celebration of the man-made, Exter never ceased to paint from life. During her time at the Académie Moderne she was the only teacher to insist upon it. Her pupil Esther Shimerova recalled ‘We never missed one exhibition of flowers, we never walked past the windows of flower shops. And in the same way we had to draw a great deal – separate flowers, groups, bouquets. To create plastic scenes on the theme of ‘flowers’’ (quoted in Kovalenko, 2010, p.115). The still life genre was so important to Exter from a teaching point of view precisely because it is stripped of narrative or any of the associations of portraiture or landscape painting.

Exter’s earliest examples, painted during her years in Paris, made use of collage and stencils but her lively palette always set them apart them from those of her Western peers. Unlike the restrained browns of Cubism and the limited primary colours of the Purists, her still lifes always had more in common with the traditional decorative arts of her native Ukraine. As the artist’s fellow Ukrainian, the poet Benedikt Livshits said of her attitude to colour: ‘One of the Cubists’ principals was to modulate the scale of colours and this inhibited Exter’s violent, colouristic temperament. More than once Léger chided Asya [Exter] for the excessive brightness of her canvasses’ (quoted in Woman Artists of Russia’s New Age: 1900-1935, ‘The Avant Garde: Alexandra Exter’, p.118.)