New York, Museum of Modern Art, Tchelitchew, 1942
Buenos Aires, Instituto de Arte Moderno, Pavel Tchelitchew: Pinturas y Dibujos, 1925-1948, August 1949, no. 7
New York, Gallery of Modern Art, Pavel Tchelitchew, March-April 1964, no. 104
Syracuse, Everson Museum of Art, Pavel Tchelitchew, September-October 1983
New York, Midtown Payson Gallery, Pavel Tchelitchew: A Reevaluation, September-November 1994
Instituto de Arte Moderno, Pavel Tchelitchew: Pinturas y Dibujos, 1925-1948, Buenos Aires, 1949, no. 7, illustrated
Gallery of Modern Art, Pavel Tchelitchew, New York, 1964, p. 60, no. 104
Pavel Tchelitchew was born in 1898 on his family's estate in Kaluga, just south of Moscow, where he enjoyed all the luxuries that a Russian aristocratic upbringing could afford. He was educated by governesses on his family's estate, and he first began to paint at the tender age of six. Ever artistically inquisitive, he even considered pursuing a career as a ballet dancer, much to his father's chagrin. His idyllic childhood came to an abrupt end in 1918 however, when the Revolution sent him fleeing to Ukraine.
For the following two years, Tchelitchew studied under Alexandra Exter at the Kiev Academy, where he came to understand the aesthetic vocabulary and theoretical tenets of Suprematism and Constructivism. Thus it was in Kiev that Tchelitchew first learned to deconstruct his subjects, creating a visual language rooted in synecdoche where fundamental forms represent an original whole. After two years in Germany, Tchelitchew moved to Paris in 1923 and was quickly taken up by an intellectually elite crowd. Among those impressed by his work were Edith Sitwell and Gertrude Stein, who offered him their friendship and financial support. He eventually settled in the heart of the artistic community at 150 Boulevard du Montparnasse.
Tchelitchew garnered critical acclaim when his Basket of Strawberries was exhibited at the 1925 Salon d'Automne. This pivotal work launched his investigations of geometric wire forms, which he integrated into his many depictions of abstracted eggs and 'eggheads.' Increasingly intrigued by the interplay of time and space, he spent the latter half of the 1920s portraying single objects from varying viewpoints.
In 1926, a number of his works were exhibited at the Galerie Drouet alongside those by Christian Bérard and brothers Eugène and Leonid Berman. Stylistically linked by their melancholy, figural compositions, the group's works were dubbed 'Neo-Romantic' and Tchelitchew their chef-d'école. By now the hallmarks of Tchelitchew's mature style were apparent: his rejection of strident colors in favor of a muted, earthy palette, as well as his use of heavy impasto and untraditional materials. He became increasingly obsessed with the concept of 'metamorphosis,' and he later interpreted metamorphosis quite literally in his masterpiece Hide and Seek (1940-42).
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