Yiannis Tsarouchis (1910–1989) The art critic in blue jacket
Lot 111
Yiannis Tsarouchis (1910–1989) The art critic in blue jacket
Sold for £57,600 (US$ 96,815) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
Yiannis Tsarouchis (1910–1989)
The art critic in blue jacket
oil on canvas laid down on hardboard
57 x 37 cm. (22 1/2 x 14 1/2 in.)


  • Painted in Paris, 1936.

    Alexander Xydis collection, Athens

    Yiannis Tsarouchis, Painting, Y.Tsarouchis Foundation, Athens 1990, no 73 (illustrated)
    E. Florou, Yiannis Tsarouchis: His Painting and his Era, Athens 1999, p. 38, 40 (illustrated fig. 35/167)

    Thessaloniki, Yiannis Tsarouchis Retrospective, Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art -Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, (illustrated in the catalogue, fig, 39, p. 57)

    A very important painting by the leading exponent of the 1930s generation, lot 111 is the first known portrait by Tsarouchis, introducing the type of the male model, which would become the signature subject of his oeuvre. It represents his friend Alexandros Xydis, who at the time was a student in Paris and later became a prominent art critic, ardent supporter of avant-garde trends and writer of one of the first books on the history of modern Greek art.1 In terms of subject matter, this painting (also known under the title Male Model in the Paris Studio) served as an iconographical archetype for his upcoming Thinker series (compare The Thinker, 1937, in the Tsarouchis Foundation collection), while in terms of stylistic properties and building up of form is considered the artist’s first Matissesque figure, also drawing from the great modern master’s sculptural experimentations.2

    In an interview he gave to E. Florou we read: “In September 1935 I went to Paris to study etching techniques. I enrolled at the Hayterre studio where my fellow students included M. Ernst and Giacometti. I was casually introduced to Matisse at a gallery but I came to know him better much later in 1951. I painted my first full length male portrait, that of my friend Alexandros Xydis.”3

    The art critic in blue jacket showcases the artist’s realist approach, as well as an effort to combine stylistic elements from Matisse, Theofilos and Parthenis, and even traditional shadow puppet theatre. These diverse elements, however, are effectively combined to produce a highly original work, introducing a new stylistic approach unprecedented in modern Greek art. Reviewing the artist’s work from the mid-1930s, A. Xydis himself noted: “In 1934 Tsarouchis stopped working with Kontoglou to follow his own path. His fascination with colour and texture, and, perhaps, his predilection towards the decorative drew him to Matisse. This great master, who reinstated colour to better reflect his emotional state, charmed Tsarouchis.”4

    Indeed, this portrait’s rich surface texture, broad, overlapping planes of dynamic colour, shallow compositional structure, silent inflexibility and sweeping brushstrokes, immediately capture the eye and recall the teachings of Matisse (compare H. Matisse, Femme à la Voilette, 1927). Simplified in design and brilliant in colour, this painting conveys a serene, detached world of pure forms where line, shape and colour exist almost independently of the subject. In a 1937 article that also constituted the first comprehensive review of Tsarouchis’ work, D. Kapetanakis noted that “broad areas of pure colours, liberated from the fleeting moment, occupy a space that ensures their long-lasting harmony. We are reminded of the fauves, of Matisse. Tsarouchis learned from them but used their teachings in a very personal manner to produce works that are truly Greek in essence. What’s remarkable is that Tsarouchis managed, with the wisdom of his art, to elevate a model posing in his studio into a symbol of the modern Greek spirit.”5

    1. Proposals for the History of Modern Greek Art [in Greek], Athens 1978
    2. E. Florou, Yiannis Tsarouchis: His Painting and his Era [in Greek], Athens 1999, p. 38, 40
    3. Florou, p. XXVI
    4. A. Xydis, The Contribution of Tsarouchis in the Discovery of Greek Tradition, Zygos magazine, no 72-75, November 1961-February 1962, p. 9
    5. D. Kapetanakis, Yiannis Tsarouchis, Return to Roots, Nea Grammata magazine, 1937 as reprinted in Tsarouchis [in Greek], Zygos, Athens 1978, pp. 7-8