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Celia Rabinovitch

(b Basle, July 20, 1900; d Sugar Loaf, NY, Jan 2, 1962).

American painter, printmaker, sculptor, stage designer and writer of Swiss birth. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Geneva (1920) and at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence (1927). From this training he drew upon two dominant influences, combining a predilection for the illusionistic deep space and the clear vibrant colour of the Italian tradition with the fantastic narratives explored by earlier Swiss artists such as Johann Heinrich Füseli, Ferdinand Hodler, Urs Graf and Niklaus Manuel Deutsch.

In 1929 Seligmann moved to Paris, where he remained until 1938 and where he became associated with Surrealists. While in Paris he also became a member of Abstraction–Création and an acquaintance of Le Corbusier as well as Hans Arp, whose example led him to explore deliberately ambiguous biomorphic imagery. Although he did not formally join the Surrealist movement until 1937, he participated in Surrealist exhibitions throughout the 1930s and made use of organic and fantastic forms, often fusing natural with artificial elements. His paintings and etchings of this period, distinguished by their high degree of finish, make striking use of masks and of dancing figures constructed of abstract forms. Their sense of play, secrecy and concealment recalls the animism of the fairy tale and the Gothic tradition of northern Europe. The element of drama, tension and struggle in the dance is particularly apparent in his depiction of multiple figures. He worked in white tempera on a reddish ground, glazing over that layer with transparent colour and black outline. The highlights were added at the end in keeping with a traditional systematic approach to the illusionistic depiction of space....

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(b Kaluga, Sept 21, 1898; d Grottaferrata, nr Rome, July 31, 1957).

American painter and stage designer of Russian birth, active also in Russia and France. He grew up in an advantaged and cultivated environment concerned with the arts. Educated by private tutors, he drew from an early age and attended art classes at the University of Moscow from 1916 to 1918. Moving south in 1918 to avoid the Revolution, he studied at the Kiev Academy until 1920 and worked with Alexandra Exter. He moved again in 1920, this time to Odessa, where he worked in the theatre, and then via Sofia in 1921 to Berlin, where he supported himself with theatre work and began to paint still-lifes, figures and portraits such as Natalie Glasko (1926; New Haven, CT, Yale U. A.G.)

From 1923 Tchelitchew lived in Paris, where his work underwent a fundamental change. He abandoned the brightly coloured Cubo-Futurist manner influenced by Exter in favour of a more realistic representation of objects treated as symbols of cosmic order: eggs, cabbages and constellations of stars. Soon he added figures in reflective, self-absorbed poses, such as ...