Born in Moscow in 1900 (although some sources claim 1906), Serge Poliakoff is a highly important member of the “Ecole de Paris” (School of Paris). In 1917 he left his native country, fleeing from the Russian Revolution. At first he reached Constantinople, where he made his living by playing music in cafés. At the same time, he studied painting. From 1929 on, he matriculated at the Forchot and Grande Chaumière academies. After that, he spent two years in London, at the Slade School of Art. In 1962, he had a solo presentation at the Venice Biennale. Poliakoff died in Paris in 1969. (1)
The early work of Serge Poliakoff was figurative and slightly academic. Poliakoff predominantly painted nudes, landscapes and interior scenes. However, even at that time, he was already showing a predilection for slightly irregular, geometric design. Later he turned to looser, freewheeling and very colourful compositions (reminiscent of early Kandinsky), and then, from 1935 onwards, he left figuration behind and began to develop his own, individual abstract painterly idiom. The spectator will always find a way to relate to this, as it relies on the harmonious relations of intelligible forms and matching colour schemes.
Poliakoff’s “typical” work consists of irregular, puzzle-like interlocking shapes. The image is supported by the effect of his colour’s pure materiality and their interplay between luminosity, transparency and opaqueness. His Russian background – he was very much impressed by iconographic painting –as well as his intense preoccupation with music and especially rhythm, provided an important influence on his art. Poliakoff\'s success is mostly based on the harmony of his compositions, both in form, in colour and their accord. These compositions of colour values find their equivalent in musical tonality and are filled with an almost sacred harmony. (2)
There isn’t a true period pattern in Poliakoff’s use of hues. At all times we find darkish or lighter earthy tones parallel to strong and luminous colours. Having been taught the emotional value of colours by Robert Delaunay, this is not very surprising. His colour schemes vary with his moods.
(1) See www.kettererkunst.com/bio/SergePoliakoff-1900-1969.shtml
(2) See www.hypo-kunsthalle.de/newweb/epoliakoff.html
Serge Poliakoff, 11.11.2006 - 31.01.2007, Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie