MacDougall's Russian Art Auctions 25-27 November 2019

25 November 2019

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

Krepost Glavy

21. SHVARTSMAN, MIKHAIL (1926–1997)

Krepost Glavy, signed twice with a monogram, inscribed in Cyrillic “Moskva” and dated 1978 and 1987, also further signed twice, once with a monogram, inscribed “Moskva/verkh”, titled twice, numbered “34” and dated on the reverse.

Tempera and gesso on board, 107 by 107 cm.
70,000–90,000 GBP

Provenance: Acquired directly from the artist by the previous owner.
Russian Art, Sotheby’s New York, 16–17 April 2007, lot 518.
Important private collection, UK.

Literature: I. Shvartsman, D. Gorokhov, E. Barabanov, N. Fedorova (eds), Mikhail Shvartsman, St Petersburg, Palace Editions, 2005, p. 175, illustrated; p. 378, No. 169, illustrated and listed.

Krepost Glavy is one of the most celebrated paintings by Mikhail Shvartsman, coming from an important, highly regarded European collection of Russian art.

Executed over the course of a whole decade (1978–1987), the composition dramatically represents the artist’s creative quest during a crucial period of his life, as well as the atmosphere of intoxicating intellectual ferment marking the nonconformist environment in which it was produced. Like most of the paintings that Shvartsman called “hieratures” (from the Greek epos, hierós — “sacred”), Krepost Glavy was conceived as an image-sign combination, a figure representing a constant divine presence.

Shvartsman saw the mission of his art as lying in messianism, and he thought that the function of his creations was to convey the sacred principle. Therefore, he fashioned his hieratures as a stratification and interaction of numerous biomorphic and mechanistically abstract forms and figures. Forming a complex colour and plastic structure, such compositions were, according to the artist, suggestive of intellectual and spiritual semantic contexts, since they summoned up allusions primarily to icon painting, both because of their names and the gesso and tempera technique used, and because they expressed images and signs of the “other” world that were sacred to the artist.

Works by Shvartsman such as Krepost Glavy have come to be a symbolic monument to the creative explorations undertaken by the nonconformist artists of the late 1970s and 1980s, as well as an iconic expression of them.

Notes on symbols:
* Indicates 5% Import Duty Charge applies.
Ω Indicates 20% Import Duty Charge applies.
§ Indicates Artist's Resale Right applies.
† Indicates Standard VAT scheme applies, and the rate of 20% VAT will be charged on both hammer price and premium.