Catalogue: Important Russian Art Auction

15 October 2020

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

Bird Flying Over a City

*§ 57. SURVAGE, LÉOPOLD (1879–1968)

Bird Flying Over a City, signed and dated 1920, further stamped with the artist's studio stamp on the reverse.

Oil on canvas, 54 by 73 cm.
60,000–70,000 GBP

Provenance: Private collection, Switzerland.

Exhibited: Léopold Survage, 1879-1968, Galerie Zlotowski, Paris, October–November 2003.

Literature: Exhibition catalogue, E. Brosset, Léopold Survage, 1879-1968, Paris, Galerie Zlotowski, 2003, p. 31, illustrated.

Léopold Survage’s Bird Flying Over a City illustrates the artist’s own way of handling Cubist perspective, his personal system, developed at the turn of the 1920s. While fragmenting the urban environment and reducing it to geometrical shapes, he at the same time deliberately preserves figurative elements in the depiction of individual details, e.g. the windows draped with white curtains, and the crowns of growing trees. The sterile bleakness of the streets imparts to the landscape the distinctive minimalism of the cerebral constructs devised by the later Cubists. Yet Survage also strives not only for animation in the very structure of the composition, but also for a markedly decorative effect in his colour combinations.

In the spatial division into surfaces consisting of several intersecting planes, one can see the artist harking back to the principle of a children’s three-dimensional building-block puzzle. This technique would later become a crucial element in the creation of Survage’s “jointed” spaces, both in painting and in his theatrical works of the 1920s.

Bird Flying Over a City
Bird Flying Over a City

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.