Lot 505 - La ville, feuilles et main (1931)
Lot 506 - Abstract Composition (1938)
A French-Russian modern artist, Leopold Survage
was active in the Russian avant-garde scene, and he showed an interest in symbolism, which would continue to influence his work later on. In 1908 he went to Paris, where he eventually settled, and became involved with the Cubist movement for a time.
Hermitage Fine Art presents two works by this artist, which cover both his cubist and symbolist influences, La ville, feuilles et main (1931) and Abstract Composition (1938).
Survage knew many of the top artists of this period, and counted such luminaries as Guillaume Apollinaire as fans. In fact, in 1917 Apollinaire helped to organise an exhibition of Survage’s paintings at a Parisian gallery. At the time Survage was sharing a studio with his friend Amadeo Modigliani, though he would soon move to Nice for a couple of years, before once again returning to Paris. Back in the capitol, he designed some sets and costumes for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russe, beginning with Igor Stravinsky’s comic opera Mavra at the Paris Opéra in 1922.
Having moved more towards the neo-classical forms and away from Cubism in the 1920s, Survage was fond of sets of leitmotifs, frequently including groups of symbolic figures such as man, building, bird, flower, window, curtain. Several of these can be seen in the gouache La ville, feuilles et main (1931). In the late 1930s Survage’s work sees a return to more geometric structures, as his paintings took a more mystical turn with a growing interest in symbols, in part due to the influence of Surrealism and André Masson. This development can be seen in Abstract composition (1938), which shares some leitmotifs with his earlier gouache, but differs dramatically in form.
In 1963 Survage was inducted into France’s Légion d’Honneur. His work is held in many museums around the world, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, amongst others.