Details & Cataloguing

French Cancan by Natalie Seroussi


Vladimir Baranoff-Rossiné
1888 - 1944
signed and dated 33
oil on canvas
145 x 82,5 cm; 55 7/8 x 32 1/2 in.
Executed in 1933.
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The authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the artist's son Eugène Baranoff-Rossiné. 


Madame Vadiaeff, Paris
Private collection, France
Private collection, Germany
Sale: Koller Auktionen AG, Zürich, Moderne Kunst, Gemälde, Skulpturen, Graphik, 22 June 2007, lot 3244
Natalie Seroussi, Paris


Valencia, IVAM Centre Julio Gonzalez, Arte Abstracto, Arte Concreto : Cercle et Carré, Paris, 1930, 1990, no. 81, illustrated

Catalogue Note

Vladimir Baranoff-Rossiné, born Shulim Wolf Baranov, came from a Jewish Ukrainian family. After studying art in Saint Petersburg, he became one of the important figures of the Russian avant-garde from the first half of the 20th century. Both painter, sculptor and musician, he notably became known for his synesthetic inventions dedicated to the union of sound, form and colour.

During his time in Paris between 1910 and 1914, the painter lived in Montmartre where he frequented a colony of Russian artists, such as Marc Chagall, David Shterenberg or Alexander Archipenko. In the works he produced upon arrival in Paris, he openly turned towards Cubism and Futurism, and then under the instigation of Robert and Sonia Delaunay, his art adopted a more abstract tonality, focusing fully on the mastery of colour and light, true to the new theories of Orphism.

During the Russian revolution in 1917, he decided to return to Russia where he was obliged to stay for a few years as the Soviet authorities prevented his departure. Here he was at the origin of many inventions such as the optophonic, a piano that put in movement transparent and coloured luminous discs projecting colours onto a screen. It was only thanks to the intervention of the Delaunays that he succeeded in obtaining his visa for France and returned to Paris in 1925. He then became particularly active on the Parisian artistic scene, exhibiting a number of his works and giving performances in order to present his inventions to the public.

In 1933, the year of the present painting, Baranoff-Rossiné exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants where he presented two works, Eve et Sculpture Polytechnique (today in the collection of the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris). He painted this work in November of the same year. Produced the year of the Nazi party’s rise to power in Germany, the work depicts the star of David and the head of Adolph Hitler in two opposite parts of the composition. The latter is held upside down by a fantastic creature seen from the back, a possible exterminating angel or golem – evocative of the mythical "angel of the home" figuring in several of Max Ernst’s works at the same period – probably in echo of Baranoff-Rossiné’s dream of seeing the Nazi regime crumble.  Thus, the painting reveals the artist’s visionary clairvoyance as in 1933 he had understood all the danger that the Nazi rise to power represented for the Jewish people.

However, a few years later, when Paris was under occupation by the German forces, Baranoff-Rossiné refused to leave his adopted city: "I love Paris, I have no reason to be afraid" he confided to his friends. In November 1943 he was imprisoned by the Gestapo and deported to Auschwitz where he died in 1944 at the age of 56. The artist’s tragic end endows the present painting with a most poignant premonitory power.

French Cancan by Natalie Seroussi