10 June 2021
Still Life with Peppers and a Pot, signed.
Oil on canvas, 60 by 81 cm.
Executed c. 1930s.
Provenance: Private collection, Paris.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Literature: A. Uspensky, Robert Falk, Moscow, Isskustvo – XXI vek, 2020, pp. 185, 186-187, illustrated.
Robert Falk, the famous Russian painter and one of the most brilliant members of the Moscow Jack of Diamonds group, is represented by the superb Still Life with Peppers and a Pot. Even in his lifetime Falk was regarded as an unsurpassed master of colour, and his work graces the leading museums of Russia and prominent private collections. Sviatoslav Richter and Pyotr Kapitsa had a high regard for the artist and collected his work.
For many Left-leaning artists of the 1910s enforced rejection of Cubo-Futurist experiments means that certain periods in the story of their artistic careers are of little interest. Their renunciation of formal exploration laid bare their inadequacy, primarily as painters. Robert Falk, however, did not lose his sense of colour or mastery of composition: in fact from the 1930s his gift for colour actually reveals itself in a fresh light and his new sculptural use of paint produces an arresting multi-layered structure that gives his work depth and a special vibrancy. Falk’s contact with painters of the Paris School boosted his experimentation with texture and confirmed the suitability of his chosen path. The initial impression that Falk’s still lifes and landscapes of that time have of being painted instantaneously is deceptive; Falk’s work employs many approaches, using a previous paint layer as a base contributing to the creation of a particular colour effect, full of unique luminosity and appeal.
Still Life with Peppers and a Pot undoubtedly possesses all these merits and is one of the best works of the artist’s Parisian period. The painting’s expressively textured treatment harmonises surprisingly well with the deep umber background, with its wealth of rich hues in the shining emerald and claret-red peppers that Falk loved to use in his still lifes.
The present lot as illustrated in 2020 publication
R. Falk, Red Peppers and a Pink Bowl, 1932, The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow
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