MacDougall Auctions 2-3 December 2009

2 December 2009

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

Speeding Train

205. CHUPYATOV, LEONID 1890-1941

Speeding Train signed and dated 1924

Oil on canvas, 66 by 94 cm.
80,000-120,000 pounds

Provenance: Private collection, St Petersburg.
Private collection, Europe.

During the last few years, interest in Leonid Chupyatov’s work has not simply grown, his name is now synonymous with the best work of the vibrant decades in Post Civil War Soviet Russia. First and foremost, Chupyatov was one of K. Petrov-Vodkin’s best students. From him Chupyatov adopted an extraordinary vision for compositional and spatial aspects of art, boldness of palette, and most of all faultless taste. Less sensual, but more rational and constructive in his technotronic approach than his great teacher, Chupyatov created a whole series of picturesque canvases that resemble “camera obscura”, where his views of inner courtyards, apertures of ladders, deserted industrial landscapes, and even still-lifes are hypertrophied. They resemble the shocking, in-your-face works of the Stenberg brothers and the metaphysical monochrome fantasies of Rodchenko. “Immobility” of Chupyatov’s works contrasts with the sense of movement penetrating a scene of action and time.

This is especially evident on the picture presented for the auction. The illusion of speed literally takes the viewer’s breath away, while the dispersion of the vectors of the composition conveys the power of the streams of air. In this brilliant solution of the most complicated problem of absolute balance, the massive train, nearly falling off the slope as it speeds frenziedly, appears almost weightless, as though kept afloat by a dense trail of its own smoke.

This work was executed by Leonid Chupyatov in 1924, when he belonged to the artistic community Zhar-Tsvet. It was, perhaps, the best period of his life, a time of revelations and unexpected, courageous discoveries, of mature self-evaluation of his creative path

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.