5 June 2013
A Runner, from the "Circus Masks" Series, signed and dated 1947.
Pencil, ink and gouache on paper, 28.5 by 20.5 cm.
Alexander Rodchenko began his decorative figurative series The Circus Masks in the spring of 1941. At that time together with his wife Varvara Stepanova he was finishing the layout of a special issue of the magazine The USSR in Construction dedicated to the Soviet Circus. The project included several photo sessions at the Moscow circus, where Rodchenko photographed clowns and acrobats, gymnasts, musicians and lion-tamers. He loved the circus and its atmosphere, the movement, magic, colourful costumes and illuminations. As photography lacked colour, all the emotions of the circus were embodied in Rodchenko’s drawings of the central (from his point of view) characters of the circus: acrobats, gymnasts and clowns. The manner of his drawing was similar to that of his last series of non-objective works, The Streamline Ornament. Free-flowing organic abstract forms were also the fundamental element in these semi-figurative graphics. He returned to these motifs in 1943 (after returning from his evacuation to the Urals). The circus was an allegory of life, a symbol of freedom and creativity, a world in which the impossible became possible. The present lot is possibly the last drawing from this series which he might have executed as a gift for a friend in 1947.
Works from this series can be found in the Private Collections Department at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow.
We are grateful to Alexander Nikolaevich Lavrentiev, the grandson of the artist, for providing catalogue information.
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.