Lot 306
  • 306

GINO SEVERINI | Joueur de guitare dans un cabaret parisien

500,000 - 700,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Gino Severini
  • Joueur de guitare dans un cabaret parisien
  • Signed G. Severini and dated 1913 (toward lower right)
  • Charcoal, pastel and chalk on card 
  • 28 1/4  by 18 3/8 in.
  • 71.8 by 46.7 cm
  • Executed in 1913.


Galerie Jeanne Bucher, Paris (acquired by 1946)
Private Collection, Europe
Galerie Cazeau-Béraudière, Paris
Acquired from the above on May 23, 2005


Aix-en-Provence, Galerie d'art du Conseil des Bouches-du-Rhone, "Jean Moulin" dit Romanin, artiste, resistant, marchand de tableaux, 2000, n.n., illustrated in color the catalogue


Executed on buff colored card laid down on card. The medium is well-preserved and the colors are bright and fresh. There are four half-inch long tears along the top edge, all of which have been expertly repaired. Some scattered discoloration, possibly inherent to the texture of the paper. The work is in good condition.
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.

Catalogue Note

Gino Severini moved to Paris in November 1906, and by 1908 had firmly established himself as the French outpost of the Italian Futurist movement. Declaring war on the past, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Giacomo Balla, Umberto Boccioni and other proponents were among those who celebrated the energy and activity of modern technology and industry in their work. Central to this was their understanding of action as dynamic movement. Initially realized through the depiction of cars, trains and airplanes, this concept came to further encompass the idea of the movement—or dynamism—within an object. The group argued that there is no fixed object, but only the perception of an object within a constantly shifting framework of color and light (see fig. 1). Established in 1908, they proclaimed: "Comrades! We declare that the triumphant progress of science has brought about changes in humanity so profound as to dig an abyss between the docile slaves of the past and us who are free, us who are confident in the shining splendour of the future” (“Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting,” in Poesia, Milan, April 11, 1910, n.p.).

Less enthralled with mechanical subjects than his counterparts, Severini preferred to apply Futurist theory to the café culture of his Parisian surroundings. The young artist had actively immersed himself in the culture of Montmartre and Montparnasse, and was a constant diplomatic force between the bombastic Futurists and the French avant garde. As Bernard Dorival wrote, "He was—and this was his originality even, doubtless, his greatness—he was the bridge between Futurism and Cubism" (quoted in Futurism (exhibition catalogue), Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, 2009, p. 242).

This culminated in the Futurist’s crucial introduction to Cubism at the Salon d’Automne in 1911. As a letter from Boccioni to Severini attests, the Futurists were intrigued with the nascent movement of Cubism even before their arrival: "Get all the information you can about the Cubists, and about Braque and Picasso. Go to Kahnweiler's. And if he's got photos of recent works (produced after I left), buy one or two. Bring us back all the information you can" (quoted in ibid., p. 242). The group was stunned by Picasso and Braque’s work, which presented new possibilities for the way that light and motion could be used to overcome concrete form (see fig. 2). Executed just two years later, the present work depicts a performer typical of the Montmartre cabarets Severini frequented in Paris. Joueur de guitare dans un cabaret parisien integrates the dynamism of Futurism and the dimensionality of Cubism, underscoring Severini’s role as a bridge between the two movements.

While 1913 would bring an unprecedented level of political rhetoric to the Futurist movement, it also brought Severini to the brink of critical success. At the age of just 30, the Italian held his first solo exhibitions at the Marlborough Gallery in London and at Der Sturm in Berlin. Yet these achievements would prove tenuous in light of the impending conflict brewing across Europe. While the Futurists were initially fervent supporters of the war, it would soon claim the lives of many of its members, thus throwing into question the once-glorified concepts of progress, technology, impending war and revolution.

This work will be included in the additional volume to the Catalogo Ragionato dell'Opera pittorica di Gino Severini, currently being prepared by Daniela Fonti and Romana Severini