PROPERTY PREVIOUSLY IN THE COLLECTION OF GEORGE AND BOSKI ANTHEIL
Initially a member of the Prague avant-garde group Osma (The Eight), Kubin moved to Munich in 1907, where he worked and exhibited at Galerie Der Sturm and with Der Blaue Reiter, before making France his permanent home in 1912. He initially stayed in Paris at the home of his friend, the Czech writer Otto Klein, whose poem La misère humaine was published in 1914 with six woodcut illustrations by Kubin (fig 2).
In his autobiography Antheil described his penchant for acquiring paintings, and how that, after a particularly successful and highly remunerative concert in Prague in 1922, on his return to Berlin: 'I had immediately gone out and bought at ridiculously low prices a number of very fine paintings, including two Marcoussis, a Braque and two Kubins. Having thus become an amateur picture collector in one fell swoop, I occasionally added to "my collection" as my concert life grew more successful.' (Antheil, p. 94).
It is the subsequent history of the Antheil collection that is all the more surprising. On leaving Berlin for Paris in 1923, Antheil crated up the pictures that he had amassed, including by all accounts the present lot, and lots 1 & 2 in the sale, and sent them for safe keeping back to America. As he humorously recounts, however, he could not recall to whom he had sent them (Antheil, p. 94). It was a full sixteen years later that the mystery was solved when he received the following letter from Mary Louise Bok, his early patron in Philadelphia: 'Dear George: I am moving from my large Merion house to a smaller establishment in the city. In the process of moving we discovered a large box in the cellar marked "Hold for George Antheil." I recall now that you sent it to me in 1923; you asked me to keep it for you. From Berlin, I think. It looks as though it might contain paintings. Do you still want it? If you do, I wish that you would send for it right away, as my new cellar in Philadelphia is really too small.' (Antheil, p. 246). Having been living in Hollywood since 1936, Antheil was delighted to be reunited with his precious art works.
Fig. 1: Otakar Kubin, Postava II, 1913-14, oil on canvas, photograph c National Gallery, Prague 2014
Fig. 2, Otakar Kubin, Holzschnitt, on the cover of Der Sturm, May 1914
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