Lot 1
  • 1

Ella Kruglyanskaya

40,000 - 60,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Ella Kruglyanskaya
  • Swordfish Picnic
  • oil on shaped canvas, in two parts
  • overall: 230.5 by 336.9cm.; 90 3/4 by 132 5/8 in.
  • Executed in 2011.


Private Collection, United Kingdom


New York, Barney's, Ella Kruglyanskaya, 2011

New York, Salon 94, Ella Kruglyanskaya, Ladies Who Punch, 2011 

Catalogue Note

Possessing pneumatic curves that threaten to burst from the tight dresses that contain them, the women in Ella Kruglanskaya’s Swordfish Picnic are at once sexually provocative and physically empowered. Although demurely reading on a picnic blanket, the display of overt sexuality, articulated within an extravagant schema of gaudy pattern and colour, employs high-camp to scrutinise gender constructs. Indeed, through the caricatured physicality of her female subjects, Kruglanskaya emphasises the performativity of gender. As explained by art critic Laura McLean-Ferris: “… there’s potential in camped-up mimicry, which might show up constructions of gender to be fictitious. Kruglanskaya creates such cartoonish models of female sexuality and behaviour on canvas, ramps them up several hundred notches, creates a space in which such women might interact with one another – and, in doing so, throws some serious shade on a very macho history of painting” (Laura McLean-Ferris, ‘Ella Kruglanskaya: Review’, Frieze, June 2013, online resource).

Inspired by female artists of the Constructivist era, Sonia Delaunay and Alexandra Exter (figures who segued into the avant-garde through their work with costume and fashion), Kruglanskaya carves out a space for femininity in the vernacular of camp-couture. In the present work the picnic blanket doubles as ladies scarf adorned with a nautical pattern of interlacing ropes and chains. Upon this, the figures are fleshed out with scribbles and hatchings and are tightly garbed in dresses of outlandish patternation – designs that knowingly echo Constructivist or Bauhaus compositions. Delivering a teeming cacophony of colour and pattern, Kruglanskaya eradicates any sense of perspective, reducing her compositions to that of textile design yet confronting the age-old machismo dialogue of flatness in painting. Fittingly, Kruglanskaya painted Swordfish Picnic in 2011 as part of an installation intended for the windows of Barney’s in New York. Taking on the mantle of artists exhibiting in department store windows, such as Andy Warhol who in 1962 showed some of his earliest Pop art paintings in the windows of Bonwit Teller, Kruglanskaya’s paintings combine the world of fashion and empowered femininity with that of fine art.