Survage, Léopold

Description:Léopold Survage (1879 – 1968) COMPOSITION, 1953 Signed and dated at the lead pencil lower right Stencil gouache on vellum,  25 x 18 cm (à vue) – 9.8 x 7 in. (approx.) 

Léopold Frédéric Léopoldowitsch Survage (31 July 1879 – 31 October 1968; variant names Léopold Sturzwage, Leopold Sturwage, Leopoldij Sturzwasgh, Leopoldij Lvovich Sturzwage) was a French painter of Russian-Danish-Finnish descent born in Lappeenranta, Finland (with selected references indicating a birthplace of Moscow, Russia).

He exhibited with the Jack of Diamonds group in Moscow in 1910 and first showed his work in France—at the urging of Archipenko—in the Salon d’Automne of 1911.

In 1913, Survage produced abstract compositions using color and movement to evoke a type of musical sensation. Entitled Rythmes colorés, he planned to animate these illustrations by means of film to form “symphonies en couleur”. He saw these abstract images as flowing together, but he exhibited the ink wash drawings separately at the Salon d’Automne in 1913 and Salon des Indépendants in 1914.

Beginning in 1917, Survage shared a studio with Amedeo Modigliani in Paris. Survage later moved to Nice and, over the next eight years, produced highly structured oils and works on paper linked together by a series of leitmotifs, repeating groups of symbolic elements—man, sea, building, flower, window, curtain, bird—as if they were protagonists in a series of moving images. The influence may have been Marc Chagall’s, an artist well known for his insertions of floating couples, cows, roosters, and sundry Jewish iconography. By 1922, Survage had begun to move away from Cubism in favour of the neo-classical form. Toward the end of the 1930s, as a result of his contact with André Masson, Survage became increasingly charmed by symbols and mysticism. The curvilinear forms that had previously dominated his compositions came, once again, under the control of geometric structure.

Selected exhibitions
1968: Musée des beaux-arts, Lyon
1930: Museum of Modern Art, New York
1929: Knoedler Gallery, New York
1920: Galerie de L’Effort Moderne, Paris
1914: Salon des Indépendants, Paris
1913: Salon d’Automne, Paris

Selected collections
Musée national d’art moderne Georges Pompidou, Paris
Bezalel Museum, Jerusalem
Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
Musée des beaux-arts, Lyon
Musée du Petit Palais, Geneva
Musée national d’art moderne, Paris
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Museum of Modern Art, New York
National Museum of Arts, Moscow
National Museum, Athens