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One of the exciting memories of the artist Vladimir Nemukhin — an episode of how he and his wife Lidia Masterkova were going to the village of Priluki on the Oka river, shocked by watching the exhibitions of the International Festival of Youth and Students. Right after that they both go on to creating completely new, abstract works – new both for their own creativity and for Russian art. Most likely the work presented is one of those that appeared among the first after those summer impressions of 1957. It is dated the following year —numbers «58» are placed on the front side near the signature of the artist, made in printed letters. Looking at this work, it's hard to believe that exactly the same signature was placed two years before on quite traditional figurative works. The distance that Masterkova overcame during these two years (and, together with her, the domestic art) is truly enormous.

Lidia Masterkova was really «born» as an artist practically «in a moment», in the months of 1957-1958. And, apparently, its formation took place in Priluki as well – as there are very few known works from those years, the presented «Composition» acts as an important testimony. It is made on plywood, but according to the memoirs of Nemukhin, it is known that this is not just a piece of plywood, but a door from the old cupboard standing in their house in the village. On one of the edges of the work, traces of the loops are clearly visible. Thus, it can be assumed that this thing appeared as a result of an experiment with completely new forms for the artist. The paint here is still applied rather timidly, in thin layers, under which the texture of the tree appears – you can tell, that the artist works in accordance with the material. The picturesque range of the product is based on shades of yellow, beige, buffy tones, with interspersions of green and blue. It seems that the «Composition» could have become something like a tonometer for thinking about the interaction of tones, the color scheme for Masterkova – it is somewhat reminiscent of the color, chromatic tables that were created by modern artists from Matyushin to Albers for themselves. Perhaps Masterkova was familiar with such tables from Ivan Kudryashov, a student of Malevich, with whom she communicated in the 1950’s.

At the same time, it is a very harmoniously solved plastic work. The lattice structure of the work, which plays a fundamental role in the aesthetics of the twentieth century, allows us to correlate it with the works of «high modernism». The rhythm of the rectangles, reminiscent of the cloths connected together (and in these years, as in the future, Masterkova will experiment with the cloth – a typical «female» material), broken by two inclined «sticks» of white color, directed to the center of the composition – they find rhythmic support in several oblique corners of rectangles.

However, the main thing is that this work is solved as a spatial composition. With such works a truly innovative understanding comes to the domestic art, the development of space. The spatial quality of Masterkova's art will subsequently manifest in her paintings with elements of a collage. In the future, Lidia Alekseevna would become a very consistent artist-abstractionist, and given the fact that there were few women in the underground environment, she occupies a unique position altogether. It is exactly the «Composition» 1958 that stands at the beginning of her mature artistic path.

This work had always appealed to her husband (till 1968) – Vladimir Nemukhin. He is not only an artist, but also a collector. Work hung at his house for many years. In the early 2000’s, Nemukhin transferred part of his collection to the State Tretyakov Gallery. This work was originally among the intended for transfer to the museum, but later the volume of the gift by Nemukhin was reduced, and the «Composition» moved with him to a new apartment, from where it was acquired by the collector Alexander Reznikov.

Sergey Popov

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