Lot 3
  • 3

Ilya Grigorievich Chashnik

100,000 - 150,000 GBP
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  • Ilya Grigorievich Chashnik
  • The Seventh Dimension, Suprematist Relief
  • red and black ink, wood, paper, cardboard and glass
  • 26 by 22.5 by 1.5cm, 10 1/4 by 8 3/4 by 1/2 in.
  • Executed in the early 1920s


Ilya Ilich Chashnik, the artist's son, Leningrad
Lev Nussberg, Moscow, later USA
Leonard Hutton Galleries, New York
Acquired from the above


Düsseldorf, Kunstmuseum; Berlin, Bauhaus-Archiv / Museum für Gestaltung, Ilja G. Tschaschnik, 1978, no.89
New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Planar Dimension: Europe, 1912-1932, 9 March - 6 May 1979, no.106
New York, Leonard Hutton Galleries, Ilya Grigorievich Chashnik - Watercolors, Drawings, Reliefs, 2 November 1979 - 15 March 1980, no.42
Münster, Westfälisches Landesmuseum; Zürich, Kunsthaus, Reliefs - Formprobleme zwischen Malerei und Skulptur im 20. Jahrhundert, 1980, no.41
Washington, D.C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, The Avant-Garde in Russia, 1910-1930: New Perspectives, 20 November 1980 - 15 February 1981, no.35
Austin, Archer M. Huntington Art Gallery, The University of Texas, Ilya Chashnik and the Russian Avant Garde: Abstraction and Beyond, 1981, no.18a
Washington, D.C., Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Dreams and Nightmares: Utopian Visions in Modern Art, 8 December 1983 - 12 February 1984, no.18
Lingotto, Turin, Arte Russa e Sovietica, 1870-1930, 21 June - 20 October 1989, no.184
Montreal, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, The 1920s: Age of the Metropolis, 29 June - 10 November 1991, no.625
Frankfurt, Schirn Kunsthalle; Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum; New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Great Utopia: The Russian and Soviet Avant-Garde 1915-1932, 1992, no.182
New York, The Jewish Museum, Russian Jewish Artists in a Century of Change 1890-1990, 21 September 1995 - 28 January 1996


Exhibition catalogue Ilja G. Tschaschnik, Düsseldorf: Kunstmuseum, 1978, p.81, no.89 listed
Exhibition catalogue The Planar Dimension: Europe, 1912-1932, New York: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1979, p.145, no.106 illustrated b/w
Exhibition catalogue Ilya Grigorievich Chashnik - Watercolors, Drawings, Reliefs, New York: Leonard Hutton Galleries, 1979, p.55, no.42 illustrated; p.81 listed
Exhibition catalogue Reliefs - Formprobleme zwischen Malerei und Skulptur im 20. Jahrhundert, Münster: Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, 1980, p.141, no.41 illustrated b/w
Exhibition catalogue The Avant-garde in Russia 1910-1930: New Perspectives, Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1980, p.141, no.35 listed
V.J. Fletcher, Dreams and Nightmares: Utopian Visions in Modern Art, Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1983, no.18, p.52 illustrated b/w; p.178 listed
G.Carandente, Arte Russa e Sovietica. 1870-1930, Milan: Fabbri, 1989, p.363, no.184 illustrated
J.Clair, The 1920s: Age of the Metropolis, Montreal: The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1991, p.615, no.625 illustrated; p.614 listed
Exhibition catalogue Die Grosse Utopie: Die Russische Avantgarde 1915-1932, Frankfurt: Schirn Kunsthalle, 1992, no.182 illustrated; p.776 listed
Exhibition catalogue De Grote Utopie: Russische Avant-Garde 1915-1932, Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum, 1992, no.182 illustrated; p.840 listed
Exhibition catalogue The Great Utopia: The Russian and Soviet Avant-Garde 1915-1932, New York: Guggenheim Museum, 1992, p.172, no.178 illustrated; p.716 listed
Exhibition catalogue Russian Jewish Artists in a Century of Change 1890-1990, New York: Prestel-Verlag, 1995, p.248 listed


The support is slightly bowed but appears sound. The glued strips appear stable and the paper has discoloured with age. There is scattered foxing in places throughout and the red pigmentation has faded unevenly. The top and bottom edges show glue stains inherent to the artist's technique and there are a few very minor nicks and scuffs to the cardboard strips. There is a small media stain to the white strip on the right hand side below the pink-orange square. The glass could be a later replacement. Held in a wooden box frame behind glass. Unexamined out of frame.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Before his death in 1929 at the age of 27, Chashnik was one of Suprematism’s brightest stars. He graduated top of the class from Vitebsk and, along with Suetin, was one of Malevich’s favourite students. Chashnik applied himself with an unparalleled fervour and was described as ‘feverish’ and ‘magnetic’ by his peers. He worked across many disciplines: porcelain, architecture, textile and furniture design, typography.

Chashnik’s short life and the almost total destruction of the UNOVIS archives at Vitebsk during the Second World War mean that little of the artist’s work survives and the first posthumous exhibition in the West, organised by his son, was in Germany in 1978 where this work was shown. The impressive exhibition history of this lot also includes The Planar Dimension exhibition of 1979 at the Guggenheim where the Ermilov Self-Portrait sold at Sotheby’s in June 2014 was also shown.

The Suprematist reliefs represent a transitional stage between paintings and the (largely theoretical) architectural models – architectons. The floating elements in The Seventh Dimension, are the same two dimensional bars, or pure forms, transposed from his flatworks only now arranged with ‘cosmic’ gaps between them. This gives the suggestion of the elements being in flux in time and space, suspended in the cosmos.

The esoteric mathematician Peter Ouspensky, who greatly influenced the artists of the Russian avant-garde, had published a book on the fourth dimension in 1909 and the Kaluza-Klein discoveries of a fifth dimension were first published in 1921. However, Chashnik’s reference to a seventh dimension, a concept that wouldn’t be discovered in physics for another few decades, is best read as indicative of the degree to which he has departed the earthly three dimensions into pure transcendental space. His explanation, couched in the impenetrable language of Suprematist theory was: ‘I deal with three-dimensional structures, so my measurements are different. I see white against black, not white against white, thus establishing a seventh dimension’ (quoted in Ilya Grigorievich Chashnik - Watercolors, Drawings, Reliefs, New York: Leonard Hutton Galleries, 1979, p.14).

His first reliefs were exhibited at the Second and Third Exhibitions of UNOVIS Paintings held in 1921 and 1922 respectively and the subject of his diploma thesis at Vitebsk discussed the problem of the Suprematist creation of form. In a review of the Second exhibition the art critic Alexander Romm, whose brief directorship of the art school in 1919 had preceded Chagall and Malevich’s and who was generally biased towards the Suprematists, described the reliefs as ’strips of cheap white paper neatly glued onto cardboard’.