Mikhail Larionov's avant-garde "Still Life" at Sotheby’s
17.05.2019
Today we’re taking a look at another top lot from the upcoming Russian Art Week 2019 summer auctions in London.

The painting in question is a colorful still life painted by one of, if not the most famous Russian avant-garde artist — Mikhail Fedorovich Larionov.

Larionov is an incredibly important artist in Russian art history. He was one of the originators and front runners of the Russian avant-garde, a huge inspiration to his contemporaries and had an enormous impact on the evolution of 20th century and contemporary Russian art.

The picture is a large-scale (102x100cm) still life as well as a self portrait, painted by Larionov before his departure to Europe. The image of the face with text in the upper right of the composition has its origins in the shop signs which appear in the artist’s earlier works such as “Walk in a Provincial Town” and “Provincial Dandy”. Here, however, the compositional construct of a shop sign or poster has been removed and instead the head as well as the words are floating in two-dimensional space. The text itself resembles graffiti scrawled across the canvas, it can be first seen in Larionov’s depictions of soldiers, prostitutes and barrack life, which followed after his year of military service between October 1910 and October 1911. The pictorial space is furthermore disturbed by the juxtaposition of flat background with the impastoed bouquet and the plate with a lemon, which appears to be viewed from above. This wonderfully ambiguous representation of space is a typical expression of Larionov’s work.

Furthermore, this painting has exceptional provenance for a piece of Russian avant-garde which has by now become infamous in the art world for various forgery scandals. Larionov’s still life began its journey in the artist’s studio in Moscow. Later it was moved to The Moscow Storage Facility for Contemporary Art from 1918—1922. From there, it found a new home with the architect and collector Nikolai Vinogradov, who was housing a large number of Avant-garde art in his personal apartment in Moscow to save it from imminent destruction. Eventually, the painting made it back to its creator and was kept in the artist's studio in Paris from 1927-1964. Alexandra Tomilina-Larionova became the new owner, but eventually sold the work to the Leonard Hutton Galleries in New York where it was exhibited, and then finally acquired by the current owners Terry and Lionel Bell in 1968.

This painting, along with other works of Russian Art will be available for purchase at Sotheby’s auction in London on 4 June 2019. The price estimate is around £1,000,000—£1,500,000 but this wonderful lot could well exceed the original expectations.