MacDougall's Russian Art Auctions 8-9 June 2011

8 June 2011

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

Composition with Eight Cylinders,

346. WEISBERG, VLADIMIR (1924-1985)

Composition with Eight Cylinders, signed with initials and dated 1975.

Oil on canvas, 56 by 60.5 cm.
40,000-50,000 GBP

Provenance: The A. Glezer Collection.
Acquired from the above.
The Lili Brochetain collection, Paris.

An original master of alternative Soviet painting, Weisberg was not a non-conformist in the strict sense of the word. He belonged to the liberal wing of the Union of Artists, the so-called left MOSKh (Moscow Union of Artists). He often exhibited his work together with representatives of the austere style, but his own interests invariably revolved around pure art, which automatically placed Weisberg's work in opposition to official art.

In his journey from the portraits and polychrome paste experiments of the 1960s, Weisberg developed his famous trademark style, known conventionally as white on white. Thick brushstrokes give way to fine, semi-transparent painting, and mottled chaos is replaced by completely white space permeated with light in which the contours of objects materialise as if out of air. In his pictures Weisberg uses a conventional array of simple geometric shapes (cones, cubes, spheres, pyramids), but working at the interface of symbolism and surrealism, he develops the "metaphysical still life" almost to the point of compete dematerialisation, dissolution of objects in the element of light.

The work Composition with Eight Cylinders is one of the best works of this period. Though totally lacking outward expression, its composition is permeated with an inexplicable inner energy, while the colour contrasts are reduced to the minimum and replaced by a fine, almost phosphorescent haze. The cylinders placed in pairs and groups, which the artist so loved to depict, are thus perceived as a kind of discovery, leading the external vision into the realm of meditation.

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.