Robert Rafailovich Falk (Russian, 1886-1958) Portrait of Miss Alice Dollar

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Lot 123*
Robert Rafailovich Falk
(Russian, 1886-1958)
Portrait of Miss Alice Dollar

Sold for £ 253,250 (US$ 337,523) inc. premium
Robert Rafailovich Falk (Russian, 1886-1958)
Portrait of Miss Alice Dollar
signed in Latin, dated '1932' and inscribed Paris
oil on canvas
65 x 54cm (25 9/16 x 21 1/4in).


    Commissioned from the artist by J. Harold Dollar, father of Miss Alice Dollar
    Thence by descent

    Robert Falk was one of the founders of the group of artists 'Jack of Diamonds', which denied the traditions of academism and realism. The artist overcame the boundaries of a few styles and came to his highest expression in the 1920s. The portrait of 'Miss Alice Dollar' dates to the period when the artist lived in Paris and reached a new peak in creativity and technical virtuosity. His portraits of this period are lyrical and highly personal. The saturated interplay of sub tones and variations of red pigment in the portrait infuse the present work with an unparalleled intensity of expression and ampleness of form.

    The dualistic nature of Robert Falk's red palette confidently projects an optimistic colour palette and at the same nuances the mood with a strange melancholic atmosphere in which his reds reign. The connection with red on his canvas is almost physical; feasting on the opulence of playful colour, the eye takes time to free itself to complete the journey across the canvas. Glaring reds – a personal obsession of Falk, first surfaced on the canvas in 1920 when he painted his famous Red Furniture. Since then, the red colour on his canvas gained a new voice, speaking on its own terms, projecting both a physical presence and a metaphysical energy.

    While living in France in the 1930s, Falk became interested in the work of Cezanne, who was fascinated by the relation of colour to the form, shape and volume of objects. Falk, clearly inspired by the artist, selects a dominating hue of red, a strong primary colour that can impose a certain degree of flatness. By giving red a centre stage in such paintings as Young Woman Laying on the Sofa beneath the Portrait of Cezanne (also known as a portrait of R. V. Idelson), 1929; Woman on a Sofa (also known as portrait of Irina Agapieva), 1930; or portrait of L. M. Erinburg-Kozintceff, 1932-1934, it seems that Falk is making Cezanne's objective almost unobtainable, and yet his colours never succumb to flatness. The tension is visible in the density of brushstrokes which create a vibrant, dynamic image. This approach is particularly successful in the portrait of Miss Alice Dollar, 1932. The brown pigment of the background moves from the edges of the portrait towards its centre, where it intensifies along the slopes of the shoulders, creating a border within which the vortex of reds takes place. Its confident ascension terminates at the very edge of the white neck of the young woman and spreads upwards to the luminous face. Inevitably her dreamy eyes become the centre of attention and draw the viewer into the painting itself making the interaction with the sitter more intimate and personal.

    For the artist, the colour red is simply a point of departure. His variations are endless: they overflow with blue, yellow, orange, even green under-tones, like in the patch of red in the lower left corner of the present work. Although often the dominant colour in Falk's paintings, his reds flawlessly blend and interact with other colours creating an atmospheric effect reminiscent of the poetry of Boris Pasternak, his contemporary, who wrote 'Ominous horizon is sudden/ And the dawn is in bruises, /Like the trace of unhealed scratches/ Like the blood on the legs of a mower.' Although the poet does not refer to it directly, the intense lines project the vision of fiery reds. Red that conveys melancholy, hidden drama, the eminent loss but yet triumphant and glorious in its grandiose magnificence. El Tegher, after visiting Falk's exhibition wrote: 'Falk has often said that he was not painting but rather 'forged' his paintings. And indeed, he often prefers to use a palette knife, creating an amazing density of pigment composed of layers of colours, as if it is not the painting but an alloy, which shimmers while being forged by the hand of the master who pays close attention to every inch of the canvas.' Dramatic, and yet intimate, the present portrait demonstrates the confident hand of the master at the peak of its creative expression.

    Фальк, один из основателей общества художников «Бубновый валет», которое отрицало традиции академизма и реализма 19 века, испытав влияние нескольких стилевых направлений, достигает нового творческого подъёма в 1920-е годы. Данный портрет, написанный в 1932 году относится к зрелому парижскому периоду в творчестве художника и передаёт тонкость восприятия художником неповторимой человеческой индивидуальности. Живописно-пластическое решение портретов этого времени носит лирический характер и нацелено на выражение конкретного человеческого образа. Каждый мазок, линия, цветовое пятно, нанесенные мастером на хост, полны значения и внутреннего смысла. Яркое звучание любимого художником красного цвета и его полуоттенков в портрете Миссис Алисы Доллар блестяще передают материальность форм и усиливают выразительность образа.
Robert Rafailovich Falk (Russian, 1886-1958) Portrait of Miss Alice Dollar
Robert Rafailovich Falk (Russian, 1886-1958) Portrait of Miss Alice Dollar
Robert Rafailovich Falk (Russian, 1886-1958) Portrait of Miss Alice Dollar
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