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Bruskin, Rabin, and Nissky at the Spring 2021 Shapiro auction in New York


On April 24th and 25th, 2021, New York auction house Shapiro Auctions will hold a large auction of International Fine and Decorative Art and will present a series of rare works by renowned Soviet Russian artists, XIX century exquisite porcelain from the Imperial Porcelain Factory, XIX-XX centuries icons and enamels, and XIX-XX centuries bronze.

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Oscar Rabin
Oscar Rabin (1928-2018).
Ferris Wheel (In Memory of Artist Evgeny Rukhin), 1977.
Oil on canvas. 90 x 109 cm (35 3/8 x 42 7/8 in.)
Signed and dated upper left; signed, dated, titled and numbered 670 on verso
More images here.

The auction will feature "The Ferris Wheel" (In Memory of Artist Evgeny Rukhin), 1977 by Oscar Rabin - the most distinguished representative of Moscow avant-garde (estimated at $50,000 - $70,000). The metre-tall canvas was painted approximately a year after the death of his colleague and friend, and is filled with emblematic associative symbols: the Ferris wheel revolves on a background of a cold and smoky sky and abandoned barracks. Its windows flicker with memories of a life unadorned and likely spent in the house depicted in the bottom left, where the lights are still on.

  • Forbidden Art: The Postwar Russian Avant-Garde, February 1998-April 2002. The exhibition traveled to:
    • Pasadena, ArtCenter College of Design, Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery, February 22 - May 3, 1998
    • Moscow, The State Tretyakov Gallery, May 15 - June 15, 1999
    • St. Petersburg, The State Russian Museum, February 12 - April 4, 1999
    • Oxford, Ohio, Miami University Art Museum, November 2 - December 12, 1999
    • Brighton, Massachusetts, Boston College, McMullen Museum of Art, October 15 - December 10, 2000
    • Gainesville, University of Florida, Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, April 12 - July 3, 2005
    • Laramie, University of Wyoming Art Museum, September 8 - November 18, 2007
    • St. Peter, Gustavus Adolphus College, Hillstrom Museum of Art, September 3 - November 10, 2008.

Literature:

  • Forbidden Art: The Postwar Russian Avant-Garde (Los Angeles, New York: Curatorial Assistance, Distributed Art Publishers, 1998), ex. cat., p. 54 (illustrated)
  • For another variant of this work in the collection of the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University, New Jersey, see: Oscar Rabin. Almanac. Edn. 148 (Saint Petersburg: Palace Editions, 2007), pp. 134-135 (illustrated) and Oscar Rabin. Three Lives. The Retrospective Exhibition / Almanac, Edn. 219. (St. Petersburg: Palace Editions, 2008), pp. 168-169 (illustrated)

Condition:

  • Observed in frame, the work is in good original condition. Some scuffing apparent at the top right corner. Fine craquelure at the perimeter. Inspection under UV light shows no apparent signs of restoration.
Oleg Tselkov
Oleg Tselkov (Russian B. 1934).
Woman with Cat and Butterfly, 1988.
Oil on canvas. 190 x 235 cm (74 3/4 x 92 1/2 in.).
Signed, dated and titled on stretcher.
More images here.

The monochrome and gleaming "Woman with a Cat and Butterfly", 1988 by another non-conformist by the name of Oleg Tselkov (estimated at $45,000 - $60,000) is executed in shades of blue and is astonishing due to its size of almost two and a half metres across. The painting shows an already known character invented by the painter - an ostensibly rough human essence, this time in the form of a woman surrounded by symbols of femininity manifesting softness in the cat depitcted on the left, and lightness in the butterfly sitting on the deformed and disproportionate arm.

Provenance:

  • Private collection, Columbus, OH, since 1980s.

Condition:

  • Observed in frame, the work appears in good original condition. Some fine and shallow scuffs flanking the figure along the center, the longest of approximately 28 cm (11 in.). Only one diagonal scuff at the right margin resulting in minor paint loss. Otherwise, no significant issues apparent to the naked eye.
Vitaly Tikhov
Vitaly Tikhov (1876-1939).
Bathers, circa 1920.
Oil on canvas. 102 x 123.5 cm (40 1/8 x 48 5/8 in.).
Signed lower right.
More images here.

"The Bathers", c. 1920 (estimated at $40,000 - $60,000) by Vitaly Tikhov belongs to the period of his art when the artist worked in the nude model genre. The painting is executed in an impressionist manner - warm shades create the effect of a hot midday, while the composition highlights a mood of freedom and lightness.

Condition:

  • Observed in frame, the work is in overall very good and stable condition. The canvas has been re-lined. Inspection under UV shows scattered retouching to around 10%, to the back, legs, shoulder and arm of the woman on the right side, retouching to the lower right edge and center right edge.
Natalia Goncharova
Natalia Goncharova (1881-1962).
Lilacs on a Bureau.
Oil on canvas. 56 x 75 cm (22 x 29 1/2 in.).
Signed on verso with indistinct stamp.
More images here.

The still-life painting "Lilacs on a Table" by avant-garde artist Natalia Goncharova (estimated at $30,000 - $50,000) shows a bouquet of pink lilacs in a vase in front of a mirror, surrounded by simple household objects. The bouquet of lilacs in the still-life genre has appeared in Goncharova's art numerous times.

Provenance:

  • Estate of Levon Airapetian.

Condition:

  • Observed frame, the painting is in age-appropriate condition. Overall stable craquelure apparent overall. Inspection under UV shows no apparent signs of restoration or repairs.
Georgy Nissky
Georgy Nissky (1903-1987).
Skiers.
Oil on canvas board. 35 x 50 cm (13 3/4 x 19 3/4 in.)
Signed lower right; signed, titled, indistinctly stamped, and labeled 186 on verso.
More images here.

The succinct and in a Soviet way idyllic landscape "Skiers" by Georgy Nissky (estimated at $25,000 - $35,000) is balanced out by figures of skiers, who add a dynamic aspect to the painting. Compositionally, an absolute geometrical proportion is traced in the work: the pines, the figures of people and ski poles create practically ideal parallels, while the line of the horizon and the two ski tracks come together in the apex points of the isosceles and right-angled triangles.

Provenance:

  • Collection of Ukrainian composer Yuliy Meitus.
  • Thence by descent in the family.

Condition:

  • Unframed, the work appears in good original condition. Very fine and stable craquelure, consistent with age. Minor wear to the perimeter. Inspection under UV shows no apparent signs of restoration.
Grisha Bruskin
Grisha Bruskin (Russian B. 1945)
Birth of a Hero (set of 15 sculptures), 1987.
Painted bronze.
Largest: 67 x 29 x 42 cm (26 1/2 x 11 1/2 x 16 1/2 in.), smallest: 30.5 x 17 x 15 cm (12 x 6 3/4 x 6 in.)
More images here.

The series of sculptures "Birth of a Hero" by Gregory Davidovich Bruskin (estimated at $100,000 - $150,000) is an allusion to the typical Soviet alabaster sculpture once used to adorn city parks and the facades of buildings. The 15 bronze molds were coated in white enamel, which made them look like alabaster.

Grisha Bruskin’s works featured in the first Sotheby's auction in Russia, which was held in 1988 in Moscow and were sold with great success.

  • Forbidden Art: The Postwar Russian Avant-Garde, February 1998-April 2002. The exhibition traveled to:
    • Pasadena, ArtCenter College of Design, Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery, February 22 - May 3, 1998
    • Moscow, The State Tretyakov Gallery, May 15 - June 15, 1999
    • St. Petersburg, The State Russian Museum, February 12 - April 4, 1999
    • Oxford, Ohio, Miami University Art Museum, November 2 - December 12, 1999
    • Brighton, Massachusetts, Boston College, McMullen Museum of Art, October 15 - December 10, 2000
    • Gainesville, University of Florida, Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, April 12 - July 3, 2005
    • Laramie, University of Wyoming Art Museum, September 8 - November 18, 2007
    • St. Peter, Gustavus Adolphus College, Hillstrom Museum of Art, September 3 - November 10, 2008.

Literature:

  • Forbidden Art: The Postwar Russian Avant-Garde (Los Angeles, New York: Curatorial Assistance, Distributed Art Publishers, 1998), ex. cat., pp. 274-276 (illustrated).

Condition:

  • The set appears in overall good condition. Visible surface dust and grime visible within crevices, most notably on the female tennis player. Light surface scuffs and scratches visible. Should be noted that the figurines: USSR, Lenin Sign, Tennis Racquet, Hammer and Sickle have all been repaired (parts re-affixed with adhesive, which remains visible to the naked eye).
Eugene Lanceray
Eugene Lanceray (1848-1886).
Arabic Horse Games, circa 1884.
Bronze with dark brown patina.
Dimensions including base: 68 x 102 cm (26 3/4 x 40 1/8 in.)
Signed and marked with F. Chopin foundry mark on base.
More images here.

Eugene Lanceray's sculpture "Arabic Horse Games" (estimated at $65,000 - $85,000) shows four armed, prancing arab horsemen in national attire. In his work, Lanceray always scrupulously pored over all the details, fully replicating the images of representatives or this or that nationality and even the breeds of their horses. The idea of creating the sculpture with arab horsemen came to him during a trip to Algeria in 1883.

Related literature:

  • For a highly similar variation of this model, called "the largest and most expensive in Lanceray's oeuvre," see: Geoffrey W. Sudbury, Evgueni Alexandrovitch Lanceray, le sculpteur russe du cheval (Lausanne: Favre, 2006) p. 159, and for its constituent models, pp. 160-161.

Condition:

  • The sculpture is in overall good age-appropriate condition. Flaking to patina throughout, as apparent in photographs. The "Rich Merchant" figure missing his gun. The tops of two more broken off (included in this sale). Most nuts original and intact, two replaced.
Ernst Neizvestny
Ernst Neizvestny (1925-2016).
Prophet (with Exposed Heart).
Bronze with green and rust-brown patina.
Overall height: 138 cm (54 3/8 in.)
Signed, stamped with copyright symbol, edition 1/9 and foundry mark ART Research and Technology on base
More images here.

The bronze sculpture "The Prophet" (with an exposed heart) by Ernst Neizvestny (estimated at $30,000 - $50,000) is an allusion to A.S. Pushkin's poem "The Prophet", which the Neizvestny painter named as his favourite work. The creator, with flaming coal for a heart, going through trials and subjected to suffering, becomes a prophet able to ignite the hearts of people with his word.

Provenance:

  • Property of an Important Private Collection, Connecticut.

Condition:

  • The sculpture is in good condition, with wear as intended. N.B. Sculpture was installed outdoors, resulting in some surface wear and corrosion.
A pair of russian imperial crater vases.
A pair of Russian imperial crater vases.
St. Petersburg, period of Alexander II (1855-1881).
Imperial Porcelain Factory.
Height of each: 52.5 cm (20 5/8 in.).
More images here.

A pair of Russian imperial crater vases, Imperial Porcelain Factory, St. Petersburg, period of Alexander II (1855-1881), (estimated at $80,000 - $120,000) possibly based on design by August Karl Spiess. Each vase with a seafoam-colored glaze, the central registers featuring a panoramic old master scene en grisaille; the versos with scrolling laurel and acanthus leaves surrounding a ribboned lyre, the cover of each vase with a molded pinecone finial, each with ornate gilded scrollwork with acanthus leaves and lotus flowers, green underglaze imperial cypher under base of each; height of each: 52.5 cm (20 5/8 in.)

Lot notes:

  • The vases closely resemble a sketch by August Spiess in the collection of the State Hermitage Museum, reproduced in Ekaterina Khmelnitskaya, August Spiess and the Imperial Porcelain Factory: A Life Dedicated to Porcelain, (Moscow: Liubimaya Kniga, 2012), p. 47, ill. 29

Condition:

  • The pair of vases appears in good condition. Minor rubbing to the finials and a loss to the gilt on one of the covers. No significant issues to report otherwise. Not inspected under UV.
Императорская икона-триптих Христос Пантократор
An imperial Russian silver-mounted presentation icon triptych to empress Maria Feodorovna.
Workmaster Dmitry Smirnov, St. Petersburg, 1904.
Dimensions of icon when open: 13.8 x 19.3 cm (5 3/8 x 7 5/8 in.), closed: 13.8 x 8.7 cm (5 3/8 x 3 3/8 in.)
More images here.

An imperial Russian silver-mounted presentation icon triptych to empress Maria Feodorovna (estimated at $16,000 - $20,000), workmaster Dmitry Smirnov, St. Petersburg, 1904. The central panel depicting Christ Pantocrator, flanked by St. Alexander Nevsky and St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, oil on panel, overlaid with oklad with interlacing floral motifs, inscribed above central panel with the Gospel of Matthew 28:20, Az s vami / esm' vo vse dni do / skonchaniya veka [I am with you always, even unto the end of the world], exterior cover inscribed Spasi and Sokhrani, verso dedicated by 2-oi batarei 23-i Artillereyskoy brigady / Kirasiry Ee Velishestva Gatchina 1904 goda [2nd battery of the Artillery brigade / Cuirassiers of Her Majesty Gatchina 1904, each panel marked lower left with 84 standard and workmaster's mark D.S in Cyrillic for Dmitry Smirnov; dimensions of icon when open: 13.8 x 19.3 cm (5 3/8 x 7 5/8 in.), closed: 13.8 x 8.7 cm (5 3/8 x 3 3/8 in.)

Provenance:

  • Christie's, New York, June 11, 2007, lot 198

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Photos and information: courtesy of Shapiro Auctions


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