LONDON.- One of the most significant works of modern Greek art ever to appear at auction- Dark noon, by Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika- is to be sold at Bonhams Greek Art sale in London on 25 November. It is estimated at £250,000-350,000 and is just one of a wide selection of works by leading Greek artists of the 1930s generation to feature prominently in the sale.
The landscape of post-war art in Greece was mainly dominated by the artistic group and movement known as ‘Generation of the Thirties’. It aimed for a return to Greek tradition interpreted through the channels of modern art, in particular new European trends such as expressionism, cubism, abstract art, and surrealism. Painters like Yiannis Tsarouchis, Yiannis Moralis, and Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika blended key elements of European artistic movements with Greek classical conventions to create a distinctive national school which continues to this day. Many of the works in the Bonhams sale by these and other painters of the 1930s generation chart their development over the years as they moved towards their artistic maturity.
Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika (1906-1994), generally acknowledged as the artist who introduced modernism to Greece, drew his inspiration from ancient Mediterranean civilizations and Byzantine mosaics to early 20th century avant-garde trends, expressing a complex approach to the question of ‘Greekness’, the main aesthetic and ideological concern of his generation. Ghika, who skilfully analyses his native culture and landscape, creating intense natural light into simple geometric shapes and interlocking planes that form his poetical compositions, is represented in the sale by three major works including Dark noon. Monumental in scale, magnificent in colour and bold in vision this 1959 painting is widely regarded as a masterpiece of the artist’s mature style.
Another major painter of same period, Yiannis Moralis (1916-2009), master of geometric abstraction, is present in the sale with works distinguished by solid compositional structures, poetic schematization of forms, and expressive synthesis of recurrent and opposing curves.
Yiannis Tsarouchis (1910-1989), – a pivotal exponent of the 1930s generation, with a multiplicity of artistic influences – embodied in his oeuvre the ideal of ‘Greekness’ and created a distinctive style that is evident in his portrayal of young men, usually sailors or soldiers, Athenian buildings and landscapes. Small coffee house in Athens (£80,000-120,000) painted in 1955 is one of a series of works on a similar theme about which he once wrote, ‘I decided to abandon the lyrical and mystical interpretation of the world in order to discipline myself to see the exterior world objectively and narrowly.’ This work was once in the collection of the American Pulitzer Prize winning playwright William Inge who wrote Come back little Sheba.
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