Serge Poliakoff

'Bespeak the love of God […] if you want to get the big music in'

Words by
Published on
June 07, 2019
Serge Poliakoff, Composition No. C, painting, artist
LOT 10 Composition No. C (1952)

In 1952, the year Composition No. C was created, Serge Poliakoff put aside his dreams of a career in music and embraced his calling as a visual artist. This dedication culminated in a solo exhibition at the Circle and Square Gallery in New York. 

The thirteenth of fourteen children and a strict Russian Orthodox, his piety and former musical ambitions play essential themes in his work. He once said a painting needs to “bespeak the love of God […] if you want to get the big music in.” 

(Lot 10) Composition No. C features bold hues that bounce off each other at their intersections, showing off Poliakoff’s mastery of color. Playfully, he interlocks jigsaw-like puzzle blocks that subtly imply the form of the cross, an allusion to his faith. A powerful work, the gouache mutes the tones with a washed transparency, allowing the viewer to visualize the movement of each brush stroke.

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