From Anker to Zao Wou-Ki

From Anker to Zao Wou-Ki

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 12. Diptyque rouge.

Lot Closed

December 15, 01:12 PM GMT


260,000 - 350,000 CHF

Lot Details


Serge Poliakoff

1906 - 1969

Diptyque rouge

Oil on canvas

Signed lower right on each panel

Each panel: 81 x 65 cm (unframed); 81 x 130.5 cm (unframed, two panels together);

83.5 x 132.9 cm (framed)

Executed in 1958

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Dr. Franz Meyer, Zurich
Margrit Meyer-Mahler, Zurich
Private collection, Zurich
Galerie Kornfeld, Berne, 15th June 2018, lot 151
Acquired from the above sale by the present owner
Alexis Poliakoff, Serge Poliakoff. Catalogue Raisonné, vol. II, 1955-1958, Munich, 2010, no. 58-147, ill.
Françoise Brütsch, Serge Poliakoff, Neuchâtel, 1993, p. 100, no. 101, ill.  

"A form should be heard not seen." It is useful to remember these words of Poliakoff when looking at Diptyque Rouge (quoted in M. Ragon, Le regard et la mémoire, Paris, 1956, p. 56). The tonal range in his works has often been compared to music, which played a vital part of the Russian emigré’s life: when he fled Russia in 1918, he went to live in Constantinople with his aunt Nastia, a well-known singer and Poliakoff was himself an accomplished musician, who earned his living playing the guitar for many years before deciding to devote himself to painting. In the current work the artist allows colour to dictate the outlines of his shapes so that some of the reds are boldly rendered whilst others seem to dissolve into the background. The artist grounds his own pigments and carefully builds up layer upon layer of colour in order to create carefully balanced chromatic compositions.

Executed in the late 1950s at the height of his career, Diptyque Rouge, is a masterful example of Poliakoff’s mature style. As the critic Wieland Schmied remarked: "Poliakoff’s paintings unfurl inward and not outward…without any connection to the figurative world…. The peacefulness of his shapes…and a reduced palette of colour ...brought him to the secret world of monochrome." (Wieland Schmied, in the preface of the Serge Poliakoff exhibition catalogue at the Kestner Gesellschaft in 1963). Poliakoff invites us to meditate on the interlocking forms of his compositions and lets them create a highly personal response.