Lot 190
  • 190

Vladimir Davidovich Burliuk

120,000 - 180,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Vladimir Davidovich Burliuk
  • Yellow Mountain
  • oil and mixed media on canvas
  • 20.5 by 35.5cm., 8 by 14in.


David Burliuk
The Collection of Katherine S. Dreier, New York
Bequested to The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, 1953
Sotheby's Parke Bernet Sale, New York, 23 October 1975, lot 287
Leonard Hutton Galleries
Karl & Faber, Kunst Alter Und Neuer Meister, Munich, 5 June 1984, lot 619
Private Collection, Munich
Acquired from the above by the present owner


New York, Leonard Hutton Galleries, Der Blaue Reiter und sein Kreis, 1977, no.8, illustrated


Der Blaue Reiter und sein Kreis, exhibition catalogue, 18 March - 31 May 1977, Leonard Hutton Galleries, New York, 1977, illustrated in colour p.39, no.8


Structural Condition The canvas is unlined on a conventional wooden keyed stretcher which does not have the stretcher keys. These should be replaced. The canvas is stained on the reverse where varnish has permeated through the canvas weave. There are also some traces of blue pigments on the reverse of the canvas (photo 2). The turnover and tracking edges have been painted white and this white paint covers the tacks on the turnover edges. (Photo 3). Paint Surface The paint surface has a fine patter of drying craquelure which us visible under magnification. (Photo 5). The craquelure is entirely stable and not visually distracting. There are also very fine lines of craquelure, which are mostly vertical and are predominately in the darker pigments, most noticeably in the lower right hand corner of the composition. These are again stable and not visually distracting. Inspection under ultraviolet light shows the varnish layers to have discoloured. No retouchings are visible under ultraviolet light. There are two very heavily impastoed areas in the upper left and lower right of the composition both of which are secure and stable. (Photo 4). The artist's technique suggests very thin layers of glazing with small amounts of pigments mixed into the varnish layers. (Photo 5). Summary The painting would therefore appear to be in very good and stable condition
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Catalogue Note

Yellow Mountain was painted circa 1913, the most brilliant period in the history of the international avant-garde. Vladimir Burliuk died young and his paintings are exceptionally rare. His legacy is a unique body of works - consistent, stylistically unified and highly valued by connoisseurs of the avant-garde. When he emigrated, David Burliuk took his younger brother's canvas as a precious memento, and later presented it to Katherine Dreier (1877–1952). An artist in her own right as well as patron of the arts, Dreier founded the Société Anonyme with Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968) and Man Ray (1890–1976) in 1920.  The present work was part of her important bequest to the Guggenheim Foundation via her executor, Duchamp, which included works by Brancusi, Archipenko, Calder and Schwitters.

Yellow Mountain was painted at the birth of abstraction in Russian art, a period which saw the fusion of Cubism, Rayonism, Futurism in Burliuk's painting, together with elements of Wassily Kandinsky's metaphysical art. In the present work one can detect a dialogue with Mikhail Larionov, who in this same year published his manifesto Rayonists and Futurists and had worked closely with the Burliuks since 1907. The group took part in radical exhibitions showcasing the latest artistic trends in Russia and the West: the Link exhibition in Kiev, Vladimir Izdebsky's first Salon (December 1909-January 1910), The Jack of Spades (December 1910-January 1911), and the Blaue Reiter exhibition organised by Kandinsky (December 1911 at the Tannhäuser Gallery in Munich). Comparable works by Burliuk were exhibited in the 1912 Jack of Diamonds exhibition include Geotropism, Heliotropism and Portrait of the Poet Benedikt Livshits (fig.1).

A unique feature of Yellow Mountain is its unexpected texture: the surface is smooth and glazed in places, with thick impasto elsewhere as though the paint had been stuck to the canvas in lumps. The very concept of the 'factura' (texture) of a work of art had become an incarnation of the avant-garde ideals. Benedikt Livshits witnessed the creative process in the Burliuks' studio:

'With his monocle in his paint-spattered hand, David walks up to the landscape Vladimir has just finished: "Your surface, my dear Volodya, is too calm." And turning to me, so as not to hurt his brother's feelings, he expounds the theory of 'factura' (texture). But Vladimir has already stopped listening to him and kicks open the glass door leading into the park. A gust of fresh air bursts into the studio. [...] Taking his most recent canvas, he hauls it out to a hole in the melted snow and chucks it into the watery mud. I'm perplexed: this is a strange attitude to one's work, even if it isn't a strong piece. But David knows his brother better than I do and is relaxed about the picture's fate. This isn't the first time that Vladimir had 'worked over' his paintings in this way. He will now cover the lumps of mud and sand that have got stuck to the surface with a thick layer of paint and, similia similibus, his landscape becomes the flesh and blood of the earth of Hylea.'

The radical literary and artistic group Hylea formed by the Burliuks, promoted a specific form of Futurism rooted in the distant past and nurtured on the soil of ancient Crimea. 'Hylea, ancient Hylea, the earth beneath our feet, became a symbol; it should have become our banner. Even older layers were uncovered. Beyond Hesiod there was Homer. [...] At Chernyanka time lost its boundaries and unravelled in all directions.' (Benedikt Livshits, Polturoglazyi strelets [The One-and-a-half-eyed Archer], Leningrad, 1989, pp. 321-322.)