Eugène Baranoff-Rossiné has confirmed the authenticity of this painting.
The present work has been requested for the forthcoming exhibition, Futurismo 100, to be held at the Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto from 17 January to 7 June 2009.
Vladimir Baranoff-Rossiné's The Rhythm (Adam and Eve) dates from the most important period of the Ukrainian painter's creativity, depicting nothing less than the creation of mankind and, in art historical terms, the birth of Orphism. As a young and promising artist, Baranoff-Rossiné had already taken part in important exhibitions of the Russian avant-garde between 1907 and 1909 in Kiev, Moscow and St Petersburg, yet, it was not until he moved to Paris in 1910, where The Rhythm (Adam and Eve) was created, that the painter began to assimilate the most progressive practices in contemporary art. It was at this time that Baranoff-Rossiné's interest in the properties of colour and light and their problematic representation on canvas saw him embark upon a complete re-evaluation of the dynamics of the picture plane through experimentation with the multi-point perspective techniques of the Cubists', and the Futurists' methods of deconstructing movement.
The painter discarded his birth-name of Shulim Wolf Baranoff in Paris to adopt the pseudonym Daniel Rossiné--a self-transformation later completed through the hyphenated surname Baranoff-Rossiné. This amalgamation of identities represented a fusion of his provincial Russian background with his enthusiasm for the West and was not restricted to name alone, but left a distinctive imprint on his oeuvre. Highly decorative, weightless, and full of light, Baranoff-Rossiné's work was not politically engaged, but united developments in Western art with an interest in the latest scientific advancements and the spiritual harmony of Russian icons. Fusing these diverse influences, The Rhythm (Adam and Eve) is a significant painting from a series of works exploring the themes of creative and destructive forces, which took the biblical tales of the birth of the universe and the Apocalypse as their subjects. The Rhythm (Adam and Eve) reflects the avant-garde's optimistic vision of renewal and regeneration through radical change, addressing an ancient and art historically prevalent story as a means of exploring new methods of representing colour, light, rhythm and movement.
Baranoff-Rossiné had made himself known to the many Russian expatriate artists living in Paris and set up his studio in La Ruche (The Beehive), a notorious building in Montparnasse that was largely peopled by impecunious artists, including Soutine, Chagall, Archipenko and crucially, Sonia and Robert Delaunay. The Delaunays acted as mentors to the young Baranoff-Rossiné and their efforts to represent interrelated states of being fuelled his passion for colour and kinetic energy. The Rhythm (Adam and Eve) shares a similarity with cubist and futurist techniques, but its structure is dynamic, rather than analytical and dissecting. Like the work of the Delaunays, Baranoff-Rossiné followed the principles of Orphism, drawing on mystic, occult and astrological sources, to create works with a meaningful structure and sublime significance that relied on colour harmonies to communicate meaning. Baranoff-Rossiné believed in the Orphist's theories on the 'simultaneity' of sensations and insisted 'not on consecutive but on simultaneous chromatic, geometric and kinetic perception. Colours should not be used to reproduce the colour of an object but on a self-contained basis' (V. Baranoff-Rossiné, quoted in J.-C. Marcadée et al., Baranoff-Rossiné, Moscow, 2002).
Developing his own interpretation of the Orphists drive toward pure, lyrical abstraction, Baranoff-Rossiné lent mythological and cosmological connotations to his use of colour and his schematic organization of the canvas. In The Rhythm (Adam and Eve), the concentric rings both structure the volume and space of the composition, and behave as symbols, forming an ideogram of the successive stages of creation as told in the Book of Genesis. The rings correspond to the six days the Bible describes it took to bring the universe into existence, beginning with a blazing sun that signifies God's creation of light, surrounded by a dark blue second circle that references the formation of the heavens. The separation of water and earth on the third day is depicted in the third circle with apparitions of emerging vegetation. On the fourth and fifth day, the creation of animals is rendered through the amorphous animal shapes that become increasingly visible as the circles grow. The forms of Adam and Eve, fractured and shifting as if in motion, are placed on the sixth ring, representing God's final stage of creation before the day of rest. The profile and contrapposto pose of Adam appears to reference Albrecht Dürer's Adam and Eve engraving from 1504, but Baranoff-Rossiné breaks the symmetry of Dürer's pair by draping his Eve seductively on the ground, the curve of her voluptuous hips mimicking the sphere of the sun. By Adam's side sits a hound, a symbol of fidelity, whilst the cat beside Eve stands as a classic emblem of sexuality.
The six petaline shapes radiating from the centre echo these six days of creation and add greater dynamism to the image, as if the fecundity of nature were bursting forth from the light. Indeed, these forms mimic the substance of light, their rainbow hues encompassing the colour spectrum. In this way, Baranoff-Rossiné has broken down the visual elements of the subject to serve the requirements of the picture plane and to provide a symbolic interpretation of the story's narrative. Guillaume Apollinaire, another resident of La Ruche, championed and defined the Orphic art that Baranoff-Rossiné was pursuing at this time, by describing the movement as 'the art of painting new structures out of elements which have not been borrowed from the visual sphere, but have been created entirely by the artist himself, and been endowed by him with fullness of reality. The works of the orphic artist must simultaneously give a pure aesthetic pleasure, a structure which is self-evident, and a sublime meaning, that is, the subject. This is pure art' (G. Apollinaire, quoted in H. Read, A Concise History of Modern Painting, London, 1968, p. 93). In his poetry, Apollinaire had described the mystic 'voice of light' as a metaphor for the artist's ability to create entirely new forms and colours and it is this power of invention that lies behind Baranoff-Rossiné's desire to depict Adam and Eve, marking the Genesis of a new art movement.
The Rhythm (Adam and Eve) was exhibited for the first time in 1913, at the landmark Salon des Indépendants, in which Orphism was debuted to the public. The works in the show represented a new fluid and expressively coloured pictorial development, in which figurative imagery was adapted to conform to non-figurative structures. In a review for the show, Apollinaire described Orphism as the result of a protracted advancement toward an art that formed a synthesis between human sensibility and aesthetic formalism: 'This school groups together painters with quite different personalities, all of whom have, in their investigations, arrived at a more internal, less intellectual, more poetic vision of the universe and of life. Orphism is not a sudden invention; it is the result of a slow and logical evolution from impressionism, divisionism, fauvism, and cubism' (G. Apollinaire, 'The Opening', L'Intransigeant, 25 March 1913, see ibid, p. 284).
Baranoff-Rossiné's The Rhythm (Adam and Eve) embodies these heady creative forces in the pre-war Parisian art world, forming a new, simple but articulate language, that introduces conceptual and symbolic meaning to abstract methods of representation.
The Rhythm (Adam and Eve)
Oil, pencil and crayon on canvas
Please note the present work has been requested for the forthcoming exhibition, Nijinskys Auge - Die Choreographie abstrakter Malerei - 1910-1930, to be held at the Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hubertus Wald Forum, from 19 May to 16 August 2009.
German collectors based in Fürth in Northern Bavaria, Alfred and Elisabeth Hoh started their unique collection in the mid-1980s. They began with prints, amassing one of the largest private German collections of German Expressionist print portfolios, which are now housed at the Lindenau-Museum Altenburg. Mr and Mrs Hoh's curious and discerning eye, combined with extensive research allowed them to extend the focus of their collection to encompass paintings, works on paper and sculpture of the highest quality by European avant-garde artists from the first quarter of the 20th Century. The depth of this collection is apparent in the impressive range of nationalities represented - Russian, Hungarian, Belgian, German, French, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, and Swedish. The assembled artists were all innovators, seeking to articulate a new modernist vision of the world. Often unique in having this ambition in their own country, they reached out across international borders to fellow pioneers to share and exchange ideas. The Hoh Collection is thus a fascinating cross-section of the most important early 20th Century European art movements including Expressionism, Futurism, Divisionism and Cubism.
Certain works epitomize the spirit of the Alfred and Elisabeth Hoh Collection, one being Vladimir Baranoff-Rossiné's The Rhythm (Adam and Eve), 1910 (lot 63), which sets the tone of their collection. This Ukrainian painter tackles the subject of the creation of mankind and, in art historical terms, explores the birth of modernism. Deeply influenced by the Italian Futurists with their revolutionary change of form, depiction of movement and striking use of colour, he presents a spectacular panoramic vision of Paradise. The Hoh Collection is also home to another seminal work by a Russian modernist, Les Fleurs, circa 1912 by Natalia Goncharova (lot 62) who with her partner, Mikhail Larionov, developed Rayonism using their insights into the Italian Futurists to create what Guillaume Apollinaire called 'a dance created by passion and rhythm'. Her bold and striking colours make the composition a masterpiece of dynamism and overwhelming power.
Many of the works from the Hoh Collection featured in early exhibitions at key galleries, including Galerie Paul Guillaume, Paris, Giuseppe Sprovieri's Galleria Futurista, Rome, and Galerie Der Sturm, Berlin run by the legendary Herwarth Walden. The latter, brilliantly characterised by William Wauer's bronze of 1917 (Day Sale, lot 432), was a groundbreaking dealer, publisher and patron of the international avant-garde between 1910 and 1930. He was one of the first dealers to exhibit Max Ernst, Heinrich Campendonk, Marc Chagall, die Brücke artists, the der Blaue Reiter group and the Italian Futurists. Chagall called him 'the first real defender of new modern art'.
German Expressionism is represented in the Hoh Collection by, among others, an early, near-abstract work by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff from 1906 (lot 65). The short, bold brushstrokes describing Der Garten are reminiscent of Van Gogh and the brilliant colour palette shows the die Brücke artist's fascination with the Fauves. Second generation Expressionism is exemplified in the work of Walter Jakob, a member of the Dresden Secession, who defined his own unmistakable style, combining the best from his contemporaries, Ludwig Meidner and Conrad Felixmüller. Judith und Holofernes (Day Sale, lot 453) ranks among his best and most powerful paintings from the early 1920s, his most important creative years.
Eager to share their passion for the avant-garde with the public at large, the Hohs toured their collection under the fitting title International Languages of Art to various museums in Germany between 1998 and 2000, and again in 2005. Their collection is the subject of three publications; Ursula Peters' Internationale Sprachen der Kunst: Gemälde, Zeichnungen und Skulpturen der Klassischen Moderne aus der Sammlung Hoh (Nuremberg, 1998), Jutta Penndorf's Ruhelos und ohne des Schlafes Geschenk (Leipzig, 2000), and Sebastian Giesen & Ulrich Luckhardt's, Kunst ohne Grenzen. Werken der Internationalen Avantgarde von 1910 bis 1940 aus der Sammlung Hoh (Hamburg, 2005).
This collection will be presented at the Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale (lots 62 to 69), Day Sale (lots 401 to 463) and Works on Paper Sale (lots 348 to 364) at Christie's London on 24 and 25 June 2008. The rest of the collection will be offered at the Christie's London sale of Old Master, Modern & Contemporary Prints on 1 October 2008 and at the Christie's London sale of Impressionist and Modern Art in February 2009.
PROPERTY FROM THE HOH COLLECTION
Signed and dated 'Rossiné 1910-13/II'
1910s, Paintings, oil, Russia, Modern
Paris, Salon des indépendants, 1913.
Berlin, Galerie Brusberg, Retrospektive: Wladimir Baranoff-Rossiné, Bilder und Blätter 1904-1938, September - October 1983.
Nuremberg, Germanischen Nationalmuseum, Aufbruch in die Moderne. Bestandsaufnahme 1890-1933. Aus den Sammlungen des Germanischen Nationalmuseums und seiner Leihgeber, 1990-1991 (illustrated).
Altenburg, Lindenau-Museum, Internationale Sprachen der Kunst: Gemälde, Zeichnungen und Skulpturen der Klassischen Moderne aus der Sammlung Hoh, August - October 1998, no. 7, p. 32 (illustrated p. 33); this exhibition later travelled to Osnabrück, Kulturgeschichtliches Museum Felix-Nussbaum-Haus, February - May 1999; Dortmund, Museum am Ostwall, September 1999 - January 2000 and Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, March - July 2000.
Madrid, Museo Thyssen Bornemisza, Analogías musicales: Kandinsky y sus contemporáneos, February - May 2003, no. 63 (illustrated).
IMPRESSIONIST & MODERN ART
79½ x 115½ in. (202 x 293.3 cm.)
Brusberg-Berichte 29, Berlin, 1983, pp. 10 and 20-21 (illustrated p. 17).
Tätigkeitsbericht 1988 Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg, Nuremberg, 1989 (illustrated p. 25).
U. Peters, 'Wladimir Baranoff-Rossiné, "Le Rythme - Adam et Eve"', in Anzeiger des Germanischen Nationalmuseums, Nuremberg, 1990, pp. 194-195 (illustrated fig. 26).
U. Peters & A. Legde, Kulturgeschichtliche Spaziergänge im Germanischen Nationalmuseum: Moderne Zeiten, Die Sammlung zum 20. Jahrhundert, Nuremberg, 2000 (illustrated p. 68).
The artist's studio.
Eugène Baranoff-Rossiné, Paris.
Galerie Brusberg, Berlin.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1989.
Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg (on loan, from 1989).