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Article

Mariana Katzarova

[Pappasoff, Georges]

(b Yambol, Feb 2, 1894; d Vence, Alpes-Maritimes, April 23, 1972).

Bulgarian painter and writer, active in France. In 1913–14 he studied landscape gardening in Prague and Germany. At the beginning of his painting career he was strongly influenced by German Expressionism and, after having his first exhibition in Bulgaria at the Trapko Gallery, Sofia (1919), he arranged for a second one (1922) in Berlin. In 1923 he lived and exhibited in Geneva and from 1924 he moved permanently to France. He became a prominent artist in Paris and was, according to the French critic Jean-Paul Crespelle, one of the forerunners of Surrealism. His first works done in France are painted in a form of ‘geometric’ Surrealism composed of imaginary triangular shapes symbolizing the human body and its spiritual status. Gradually his works became more fully modelled and more colourfully intense as he began to move away from the expressionist tendencies of artists such as Paul Klee and Max Ernst. He experimented with the techniques of Cubism, Tachism and abstract art while at the same time retaining his colourful palette and keeping a reference to the figure. His paintings are done in series, each of which has a dominant theme (e.g. ...

Article

Stephen Bann

(b Chelsham, Surrey, Dec 3, 1908; d Gudja, Malta, Jan 23, 1998).

English painter and printmaker. He developed an interest in painting as a schoolboy at Harrow, but the early death of his father prevented him from carrying on his studies at this stage. From 1927 to 1937 he worked as a clerk at the Head Office of the London County Council, painting in his spare time and paying frequent visits to the Tate Gallery and the National Gallery; he became a member of the London Artists’ Association in 1932 and of the London Group in 1934. His early paintings, such as The Window (1933; London, Dept Environment), were reminiscent of Matisse and the Fauvists in their free handling and their subject-matter of still-life and views through open windows, though he also took part in the Objective Abstractions exhibition (1934; London, Zwemmer Gal.), at which Geoffrey Tibble (1909–52), Rodrigo Moynihan, Graham Bell and others displayed fully abstract work. Pasmore himself made a number of abstract pictures shortly after this exhibition but later decided to destroy them....

Article

Colin C. Sanderson

[Pevzner, Natan Borisovich]

(b Oryol, Jan 18, 1886; d Paris, April 12, 1962).

French painter and sculptor of Russian birth. Son of an industrialist and brother of the sculptor Naum Gabo, he grew up in Bryansk. He studied at the School of Art in Kiev (1902–9), where according to Gabo he first met Alexander Archipenko, and then spent a three-month probationary period at the Academy of Arts in St Petersburg. Among his early paintings, The Giant (1907; priv. col., see Pevsner 1964, p. 35) shows the influence of the Symbolist painter Mikhail Vrubel’, but Pevsner was also impressed by the Russian Byzantine tradition.

Pevsner travelled to Munich and Paris at the end of 1911 and first saw works by the Cubists at the Salon des Indépendants in 1912. On his second visit to Paris, in 1913, he resumed his acquaintance with Archipenko and met Modigliani and other Cubist painters. Drawings he did in Paris and still-lifes of this period show a clear yet tentative Cubist tendency. Pevsner returned to Bryansk at the beginning of ...

Article

Christina Lodder

[Puni, Ivan (Al’bertovich)]

(b Kouokkala, Finland [now Repino, St Petersburg Region, Russia], Feb 22, 1892; d Paris, Dec 28, 1956).

Russian painter, illustrator and designer, active in France. He was educated at the gymnasium and then at the military academy in St Petersburg. Between 1909 and 1912 he visited Italy and France. In Paris he studied at the Académie Julian and stayed with his compatriot, the artist Yury Annenkov. He became friendly with Osip Zadkine and other Russian artists and began to experiment with Fauvism and early Cubism. Very few paintings remain from this period, although Walk in the Sun (1912; Zurich, M. et Mme Berninger priv. col., see Berninger and Cartier, vol. i, p. 31), painted after he returned to Russia, indicates an interest in expressive colour, surface texture and perspectival distortions.

On his return to St Petersburg, Pougny was introduced by Nikolay Kul’bin into avant-garde circles, and he exhibited with the Union of Youth group in the winters of 1911–12 and 1913–14. Breaking with them in January 1914...

Article

Piero Pacini

(b Modena, June 20, 1894; d Rome, June 17, 1956).

Italian painter, decorative artist, stage designer, architect, sculptor and writer. He studied at Lucca, Turin and Rome, where he briefly attended the Accademia di Belle Arti, and his work earned the appreciation of his teacher Duilio Cambellotti (b 1876). In 1912 he joined the studio of Giacomo Balla and belonged to a Futurist art collective through which he met the leaders of the movement. In April and May 1914 he exhibited with other Futurists at the Galleria Sprovieri in Rome and, shortly afterwards, in Prague. Figure+Window (1914; Rome, priv. col.; see Menna, 1967, fig.) exemplifies the experiments he was carrying out at the time. He was particularly interested in the use of combinations of different materials and in theoretical speculation, writing in 1915 the manifestos Scenografia e coreografia futurista, Scultura dei colori e totale and Architettura futurista.

Prampolini met Tristan Tzara in Rome in 1916 and took part in the international ...

Article

Lourdes Cirlot

(b Barcelona, Feb 2, 1923).

Spanish Catalan painter. He first became aware of avant-garde art in the late 1930s through magazines published in Spain, and he produced his first drawings at this time under the influence of Cubism and Futurism. He began studying architecture in 1942 at the University of Barcelona and in 1945 enrolled in painting and drawing classes at the Academia Tàrrega in Barcelona, where he produced his first paintings, still influenced by Cubism, for example Figure (1945; see 1985 exh. cat., p. 234). By 1950 he had begun to develop a personal figurative style that owed much to abstract art. He produced his first pure abstractions in 1957, initially concentrating exclusively on the interaction of the background with geometrically arranged shapes in sharply defined colours and faintly defined outlines; a typical example is Quarry (1958; Barcelona, Antoni de Senillosa priv. col., see 1985 exh. cat., p. 95). From 1959 to 1963...

Article

[Hildegard] (Anna Augusta Elisabeth)

(b Strasburg [now Strasbourg], May 31, 1890; d Franton Court, CT, Sept 27, 1967).

American museum director, collector, writer and painter of German birth. She came from an aristocratic German family and studied art in Cologne, Paris and Munich. In Berlin in 1917 she was attracted by the work of Vasily Kandinsky and met Rudolf Bauer (1889–1953), who had a profound influence upon her career. She went to the USA in early 1927, and in late 1927 she met Solomon R. Guggenheim and Irene Guggenheim. She soon began trying to interest Solomon in new art, especially the work of Bauer and Kandinsky. By late 1929 she had persuaded him to amass a collection of abstract art. Her role was to arrange contacts between Guggenheim and various European artists, and to help select works for his collection. In parallel she built up a smaller collection of her own.

In 1937 Rebay was made Director of the new Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and from ...

Article

Matthew Gale

(b Como, Feb 5, 1901; d Como, Sept 7, 1957).

Italian painter and designer. He studied painting at the Scuole Techniche in Como (1918–23), where he met Giuseppe Terragni and Mario Radice. Attracted by Futurism, he taught painting at the Scuola di Arte Applicata (1919–37) and the Collegio ‘Baragiola’ (1920–28), Como, and became a poster designer and satirical cartoonist for La Zanzara (1922–4). As secretary to the Istituto Nazionale di Setificio (1923–9), he produced designs for silk, but his paintings (some pseudonymously signed Boroscki, Prague) remained rooted in Novecento classicism. In 1932 Rho followed Radice’s adoption of finely poised geometric abstraction, and subsequently they encouraged younger artists, notably Carla Badiali (b 1907) and Aldo Galli (1906–81). They formed the Gruppo di Como with Terragni and other Rationalist architects and established links with the Galleria del Milione in Milan. In 1936 the group organized the abstract section of the Como ...

Article

Lucius Grisebach

(b Dresden, Feb 9, 1932).

German painter. He studied painting from 1951 to 1956 at the Kunstakademie in Dresden and continued living there until he moved to West Germany in 1961 to resume his studies at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf until 1963. There he was taught by the painter Karl Otto Götz (b 1914), a leading German representative of Art Informel; he was especially close to two fellow students, Sigmar Polke and Konrad Lueg (1939–96), the latter of whom was to change his surname to Fischer and become an influential dealer in contemporary art. In the early 1960s Richter was exposed to both American and British Pop art, which was just becoming known in Europe, and to the Fluxus movement. In response to these trends, he and Lueg organized a Demonstration in Support of Capitalist Realism as a one-day event in a department store, Berges, in Düsseldorf on 11 October 1963...

Article

[Alexander] (Mikhaylovich)

(b St Petersburg, Nov 23, 1891; d Moscow, Dec 3, 1956).

Russian painter, sculptor, designer and photographer. He was a central exponent of Russian Constructivism, owing much to the pre-Revolutionary work of Kazimir Malevich and Vladimir Tatlin, and he was closely involved in the cultural debates and experiments that followed the Revolution of 1917. In 1921 he denounced, on ideological grounds, easel painting and fine art, and he became an exponent of Productivism (see Constructivism, §1) in many fields, including poster design, furniture, photography and film. He resumed painting in his later years. His work was characterized by the systematic way in which from 1916 he sought to reject the conventional roles of self-expression, personal handling of the medium and tasteful or aesthetic predilections. His early nihilism and condemnation of the concept of art make it problematic even to refer to Rodchenko as an artist: in this respect his development was comparable to that of Dada, although it also had roots in the anarchic activities of Russian Futurist groups....

Article

Bonnie Clearwater

[Rothkowitz, Marcus]

(b Dvinsk, Russia [now Daugavpils, Latvia], Sept 25, 1903; d New York, Feb 25, 1970).

American painter and draughtsman of Russian birth. He was one of the major figures of Abstract Expressionism and an important influence on the development of Colour field painting.

In 1913 he immigrated with his mother and sister to the USA, where they were reunited with his father and two older brothers, who had settled in Portland, OR, a few years earlier. As a youth in Portland, Rothko excelled scholastically and in particular pursued interests in literature, music, and social studies. From 1921 to 1923 he attended Yale University on a scholarship, but he left in his third year without graduating. He moved to New York, where he sporadically attended a few courses at the Art Students League, including a painting class with Max Weber, which constituted his only formal training in art. Essentially self-taught, Rothko educated himself by attending exhibitions and visiting the studios of artists such as Milton Avery, whose paintings of simplified forms and flat areas of colour suggested possibilities for Rothko’s own work....

Article

Gail Levin

(b New York, Jan 25, 1886; d Broomall, PA, May 29, 1953).

American painter. He was encouraged to paint by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (later his patron), who sponsored his first trip to Europe in 1906. Visiting Paris and Italy, he was impressed by Michelangelo’s sculpture, and upon his return he began studying sculpture with James Earle Fraser at the Art Students League, New York. After producing a small Post-Impressionist landscape in summer 1907, he studied painting with Robert Henri and was influenced by Henri’s progressive attitude.

In spring 1908 Russell went to Paris, where he met Leo Stein and Gertrude Stein and, through them, Matisse and Picasso. He then joined the Académie Matisse, organized by Sarah Stein. In 1911 he began to study colour theory with the Canadian painter Ernest Percyval Tudor-Hart (1873–1954). In his still-life paintings of 1912–13 he began to use colour harmonies rather than local colour, producing intensely coloured representational works that soon became more abstract, for example ...

Article

Karin von Maur

(b Stuttgart, Sept 4, 1888; d Baden-Baden, April 13, 1943).

German painter, sculptor, choreographer and stage designer. After the death of his parents he lived with his sister at Göppingen, and in Stuttgart from 1903 to 1905 he served an apprenticeship at a workshop specializing in marquetry while attending classes at the Kunstgewerbeschule. He continued his studies on a bursary from 1906 to 1911 at the Kunstakademie in Stuttgart under the plein-air landscape painters Christian Landenberger (1862–1927) and Friedrich von Keller (1840–1914). In 1911–12 he lived in Berlin, where he produced paintings such as Hunting Lodge, Grunewald (1911; Stuttgart, Staatsgal.) and Self-portrait (1912; Stuttgart, Staatsgal.) under the influence of Cubism. After returning to Stuttgart, Schlemmer studied under Adolf Hölzel, whose theory of pictorial methods made him a pioneer of abstract art and who gathered around him an international circle of students that included Willi Baumeister and the Swiss artists Otto Meyer-Amden and Johannes Itten, with whom Schlemmer became friends....

Article

(b Dublin, June 30, 1945).

American painter of Irish birth. He moved to England with his family in 1949. Scully studied at Croydon College of Art (1965–7), and then studied and taught at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (1967–71), and in the USA at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (1972–3). In 1975 he was awarded a Harkness Fellowship and established his studio in New York, where he settled, becoming an American citizen in 1983. His early paintings were identified with the vigorous debates of the early 1970s about art and language. In Orange Slide (1972) and Amber (1972–3; both London, Mayor Rowan Gal.), elaborately meshed grid structures challenged critical response with their insistent syncopated rhythm and vibrant impact. From the early 1980s Scully’s increasing awareness of the arid effect of formal abstraction led to a simplification of means with greater breadth of handling and pictorial construction. Paintings integrated irregular panels superimposed to produce central motifs of vertical stripes within broad bands of contrasting hues. Scully’s progress was distinguished by a remarkable and sometimes unfashionable commitment to the fundamental concerns of abstract art. In the 1990s and 2000s he explored the interconnectedness of his photographs, paintings, and works on paper, tracing the transformation of shapes, colours, and textures of walls, windows, and bricks in various lights from the photographs into paintings and related works on paper (...

Article

Roger Avermaete

(b Diegem, nr Brussels, June 26, 1897; d Vilvoorde, nr Brussels, Dec 12, 1965).

Belgian painter, sculptor, designer and writer. He studied from 1913 to 1917 at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, winning a number of prizes for academic paintings while simultaneously exploring abstract art, of which he was one of the first practitioners in Belgium. He was encouraged in this direction by his work in a wallpaper factory, where he became fascinated by the interplay of coloured dyes in the vats; he continued working there for many years, contributing to the development of wallpaper designs. He also became involved with domestic interior decoration and took an interest in the different branches of the applied arts.

Servranckx was a vigorous champion of abstract art as a writer and teacher and in his own work, and he staunchly defended it as a rigorous and disciplined idiom against those who conceived of it in purely decorative terms. Seeking through abstraction to transcend the mere imitation of appearances, as an act of bravado he occasionally painted in a representational style in order to display his skill as a conventional painter; such is the case with ...

Article

Matthew Gale

(b Parma, Aug 24, 1896; d Parma, Aug 27, 1953).

Italian painter. After serving from 1915 to 1918 in World War I, he studied architecture in Parma (until 1920) at the Accademia di Belle Arte and practised there; he also taught drawing at the Scuola Professionale at Langhirano (1923–5) and began to paint. After moving to Milan in 1925, Soldati infused his reductive urban spaces with elements of Pittura Metafisica. Experiments with primitivism (e.g. Self-portrait, 1930) and ruralism reminiscent of Carlo Carrà’s works (e.g. Seascape at Grottammare, 1931; both Gallarate, Civ. Gal. A. Mod.) constituted his first show at the Galleria del Milione (1931), Milan, where he encountered the abstract art being developed by Mauro Reggiani and Gino Ghiringhelli (1898–1964). Carlo Belli’s introduction to his second show (Boll. Milione, 1933) consequently defined Soldati’s position as ‘order against Babel’, although such works as Composition (1934; Milan, Gal. A. Mod.) demonstrated his persistent interest in Cubism and Purism. Strict linear abstractions (e.g. ...

Article

Ronald Alley

(b Rodez, Aveyron, Dec 24, 1919).

French painter, printmaker and sculptor. He was greatly impressed as a boy by the Celtic carvings (incised menhirs and graffiti) in the museum at Rodez and by the architecture and sculpture of the Romanesque abbey of Ste-Foy at Conques. In 1938 he went to Paris for the first time, where he visited the Louvre and saw exhibitions of Cézanne and Picasso. With the intention of training to be a drawing teacher, he enrolled in a studio in Paris but was encouraged instead to enter the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts; he was, however, bitterly disappointed by what was being taught there, which seemed to fall far short of what he had just seen, and returned to Rodez. The paintings he was making at this time were of trees in winter, without their leaves, with the black branches forming a tracery against the sky. He was called up in 1941 but demobilized almost at once. He moved to Montpellier to continue his studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts there but spent most of the war working clandestinely on a farm in the Montpellier area to avoid forced labour in Germany. He was able to do very little painting during the Occupation, but he became aware of abstract art through his friendship with Sonia Delaunay, whom he met ...

Article

Term coined in 1954 in a manifesto signed by the Belgian painters Jo Delahaut (1911–92) and Pol Bury and the writers Jean Séaux and Karel Elno to describe the work of Belgian abstract artists who had been associated with Art Abstrait. The concept of Spatialisme arose largely from Delahaut’s initiative and was expressive of his ideas, which were absorbed into another group, Formes, founded by him in 1956. The artists associated with the term never exhibited as a group. The manifesto, which defined Spatialisme as ‘a concerted construction of forms tending to give them a life and poetry of their own’, rejected both Tachism and Abstract Expressionism as ‘disguised returns to tradition’. Though claimed as entirely new, it was close in spirit to Constructivism, calling for an abolition of the barrier between major and minor arts and for the social and economic integration of the artist.

Jo Delahaut...

Article

Ewa Mikina

(b Warsaw, Jan 9, 1894; d Warsaw, June 10, 1988).

Polish painter and theoretician. He studied at the School of Fine Arts, Warsaw, from 1913 to 1919. In 1921–3 he exhibited with the Formists and with future Constructivists, with whom he began to identify more closely, joining the groups Block (1924), Praesens (1926) and a.r. (1929). He was also a member of Cercle et Carré and Abstraction-Création, and a frequent visitor to Paris, where from 1925 onwards he established contact with the artistic avant-garde and became friendly with Piet Mondrian, the writer Michel Seuphor (b 1901) and J. Brzękowski, the Polish poet and editor of the journal L’Art Contemporain. In 1929–31, together with Brzękowski, also a member of the a.r. group, Stażewski popularized among the international avant-garde Władysław Strzemiński’s idea of assembling a collection of international modern art in Poland. Stażewski did not paint during the occupation of Poland by the Nazis, but after World War II he established semi-formal links with successive modern and avant-garde groupings in Warsaw, including the ...

Article

(b Minsk, Belorussia, Nov 21, 1893; d Łódź, Dec 26, 1952).

Polish painter, theoretician, typographer and draughtsman. On completion of his engineering studies at the Moscow Military Academy, he was drafted into the Tsarist army in 1914; seriously wounded, he subsequently began his artistic studies in the post-Revolutionary academies in Moscow, Vkhutemas and Inkhuk. In 1920–22 he was associated with Unovis, and during this period he was influenced by Suprematism, whose principles would in later years form the basis of his polemics. In 1921 he married the sculptor Katarzyna Kobro, and at the beginning of 1922 they both moved to Poland. He published his first articles on the Russian avant-garde in the Kraków periodical Zwrotnica in 1922. Strzemiński organized the Wystawa Nowej Sztuki (‘Exhibition of new art’) in Wilno (now Vilnius, Lithuania) in 1923, which acted as a manifesto of Polish Constructivism; he exhibited Suprematist architectural projects, Cubist paintings and Synthetic Compositions as well as Suprematist abstract works constructed from simple forms in contrasting colours. With Strzemiński’s help, in ...