Details & Cataloguing

20th Century Art / Middle East


Erol Akyavas
signed and dated Erol 1957
oil on canvas
90 by 215cm.; 35 1/2 by 84 3/4 in.
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The authenticity of this work has kindly been confirmed by Mrs Ilona Akyavas.


Collection of the Artist
Private Collection, US (acquired directly from the above in 1960)
Thence by Descent

Catalogue Note

Born in Istanbul in 1932, Akyavas began his formal arts training in 1950 as a visiting student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Istanbul, Turkey under the prominent artist, poet and intellectual Bedri Rahmi Eyuboglu. Following this largely Cubist education in painting, he then took courses at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence and later in Paris under André Lhôte and Fernand Léger before making the life changing decision to move to the United States. However, instead of studying painting again, Akyavas enrolled to the prestigious Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago in 1954 to study architecture under the revolutionary Mies van der Rohe. After graduation, Akyavas would take up various positions at prominent architectural offices including with Eero Saarinen.

Arriving into this new Western world that was significantly different than what he experienced in his home country or Europe, Akyavas practised painting in the styles of Tachism and Abstract Expressionism, which were prominent during the period and which also formed his core education in Turkey and in Europe. Fascinated by his cultural heritage and traditions originating from his homeland, he applied a modern aesthetic whilst simultaneously utilising visual references from both Western and Eastern art on the themes of history, religious and spiritual beliefs and notions of time.

Untitled was painted in 1957 making it one of the earliest works Akyavas created when he started his artistic career. Untitled was painted only two years before Glory of the Kings (1959) which was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York the same year and shows many stylistic and compositional similarities in terms of colour, line and form with his other early works, in particular Glory of the Kings II (1959), currently part of a private collection. The present work was acquired by a close friend and a colleague of Akyavas and stayed in the same family collection for over fifty years.

Untitled by Akyavas presents a unique opportunity to acquire one of the earliest works by this prominent Turkish artist, considered to be the starting point of his long and successful career.

20th Century Art / Middle East