Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika (Greek, 1906-1994) Frames, 1926 91.5 x 72 cm.

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Lot 11AR
Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika
(Greek, 1906-1994)
Frames, 1926 91.5 x 72 cm.

Sold for £ 72,500 (US$ 94,467) inc. premium
Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika (Greek, 1906-1994)
Frames, 1926
signed 'K.Ghika' (lower right)
oil on canvas
91.5 x 72 cm.


  • Provenance
    Gift of the artist to Teriade and then given to present owner.

    Paris, Percier Gallery, Exposition Kyriaco Ghika, October 20 - November 3, 1927, no. 1.

    To Trito Mati magazine, no. 1, May 1977, p. 30, no. 16 (catalogued).
    N. Petsalis-Diomidis, N. Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, Catalogue Raisonné 1921-1940, Athens 1979, no. 19, p. 116 (catalogued), p. 238 (listed).
    E. Mystakas, Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika and Space in his Painting, doctoral dissertation, Athens, 2005, p. 131 (indirect reference).

    Lost for over half a century and recently discovered in a private collection in Athens, this historic Ghika belonged to the collection of the prominent art critic and the artist's close friend E. Teriade.

    In 1926, Ghika, who had moved to Paris three years earlier, gave up portraiture, nude and landscape painting to concentrate on interior and studio views in the spirit of the early 20th century avant-garde movements, both in terms of style and subject matter, echoing de Chirico's metaphysical spaces or Matisse's psychologically acute interiors.1

    A fine product of this creative year, Frames shows partial views of unmounted frames and canvases crammed in an extremely shallow space in Ghika's Paris home studio at 40, Rue Denfert Rochereau. This studio view is dominated by an unframed painting in the middleground, which in turn shows another aspect of the artist's residence with its characteristic fireplace mantle topped by a framed mirror. This painting-within-a-painting, which virtually coincides with the picture plane to create a convincing trompe l'oeil effect, is a nearly faithful representation of the also lost Interior with Mirror and Vase (1926).2 Here, as noted by K.C. Valkana in her book on Ghika, "everything is subordinate to the merciless command of the straight line and only the suspended, ductile, oblong vase—a possible allusion to Giorgio Morandi's still lifes—evades the sovereign rule of geometry and architecture. The mirror motif plays a leading compositional role in expanding shallow space, while evoking a sense of mystery and contemplative introspection."3 As a result, the picture plane becomes a multi-level representational space, an intricate lacework of sophistication in which, as Roland Barthes would say, a variety of readings blend and clash.

    Frames was included in the artist's first one man show in Paris held at the Galerie Percier on the prestigious Rue la Boétie, where Picasso himself was residing at the time. The great master visited the show and acknowledged Ghika's work with the phrase: "Il a beaucoup de conscience morale."4 In an essay included in the exhibition catalogue, the prominent art critic Maurice Raynal noted that Ghika belonged to "the group of artists who, while adhering to the tenets of Cubism are now attempting to expand them, without adulterating them with sentimental or literary pretexts", pointing to the post-Cubist trends, which the artist was to become increasingly associated with. Raynal also noted that "in the course of his new experimentations, Ghika displays highly individual qualities. From his Greek origins he retains a fondness for light and architecture. His compositions are based on extensive and fluid juxtapositions of brilliant and sombre planes. Indeed, they present themselves as architectural segments in which the qualities of a highly gifted artist are passionately cultivated so as to display the most promising ideas of the present day."5

    The show was a real success. Almost half of the pictures were sold to collectors and high-profile art dealers, including Georges Bernheim and Léonce Rosenberg, while prominent critics, such as Marcel Sauvage, followed suit: "Ghika is the revelation of Greek art in Paris. His compositions, with their amazing architecture, emanate from his studies in the sphere of light, and it is in this respect that they represent the triumph of classical spirit adapted to today's orientations."6

    1. See K.C. Valkana, Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, His Painting Oeuvre [in Greek], Benaki Museum, Athens 2011, p. 39.
    2. Illustrated in N. Petsalis-Diomidis, N. Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, Catalogue Raisonné 1921-1940 [in Greek], Athens 1979, no. 16, p. 115. The same mantle and mirror theme also features in Self Portrait from 1925-1926, illustrated in N. Petsalis-Diomidis, no. 18, p. 116.
    3. Valkana, p. 40.
    4. See Petsalis-Diomidis, p. 20. See also J.-P. De Rycke, "Ghika and the Paris Experience" [in Greek], in Paris-Athens 1863-1940, exhibition catalogue, National Gallery - A. Soutzos Museum, Athens 2007, p. 150.
    5. See J.-P. De Rycke - N. Paisios, Ghika and Avant-garde in Interwar Europe, Benaki Museum - N. H. Ghika Gallery, Efesos editions, Athens 2004, pp. 199, 201.
    6. M. Sauvage, Comoedia, 13.10.1927.
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