Yiannis Moralis (Greek, 1916-2009) Composition 100 x 366 cm.

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Lot 35AR P
Yiannis Moralis
(Greek, 1916-2009)
Composition 100 x 366 cm.

Sold for £ 312,562 (US$ 420,322) inc. premium
Yiannis Moralis (Greek, 1916-2009)
Composition
signed in Greek and dated '1960' (lower left)
acrylic on hardboard
100 x 366 cm.

Footnotes

  • Exhibited
    Athens, Benaki Museum, Yannis Moralis, Architectural Compositions, February 10 - April 30, 2011 (illustrated in the exhibition catalogue, pp. 52-53).

    Literature
    Zygos magazine, no. 80, July 1962, p. 25, no. 61 (illustrated).
    Architectoniki magazine, no. 42, November-December 1963, p. 8 (mentioned), p. 11, no.16 (illustrated).
    Architectoniki magazine, no. 46, July-August 1964, p. 44 (illustrated).
    The Greek Painters, vol. II, 20th Century, Melissa editions, Athens 1975, p. 383 (mentioned).
    Yannis Moralis, Functional Art, Polyplano editions, Athens 1976, p. 29 (illustrated).
    Sima magazine, no. 22, no. 5, March 1979, p. 40 (illustrated).
    Yannis Moralis, Commercial Bank of Greece Group of Companies edition, Athens 1988, no. 782, p. 476 (mentioned), p. 496 (illustrated).
    C. Christou, Moralis, Adam editions, Athens 1993, p. 254 (mentioned).
    Yannis Moralis, Epta Imeres, Kathimerini weekly magazine, April 10, 1994, p. 5 (mentioned).
    Y. Bolis, Yannis Moralis, K. Adam editions, Athens 2005, p. 168 (mentioned).
    Y. Bolis, Yannis Moralis, Contemporary Greek Painters, Ta Nea editions, Athens 2007, p. 139 (mentioned).
    Y. Moralis, Traces, exhibition catalogue, Museum of Contemporary Art - Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation, Andros 2008, p. 218 (mentioned).
    A Tribute to Yannis Moralis, exhibition catalogue, National Gallery - Alexandros Soutzos Museum, Athens 2011, pp. 209, 245 (mentioned).
    Gr Design magazine, September 2018, p. 12 (mentioned).


    A monumental Moralis, Composition 1, 2 is one of the most beautiful and imposing paintings by the artist ever to appear on the auction market. Epic in scale and magnificent in its simple grandeur, this striking work echoes the timeless values of ancient Greek art.

    Disciplined line and pure form, reminiscent of architectural fragments from an ancient Greek temple or a neoclassical Athenian mansion, set up a perfectly balanced geometric edifice from which engaging floral motifs emerge playfully against luminous patches of blue colour indicative of clear skies. The well thought out compositional scheme, the shallow depth, suggestive of sculptural relief, and the overall serene rhythm, dictated by the classical sense for human scale, compose an evocative world of poetic images that revives the archetypal universe of an Ionian frieze.

    Pointing out Moralis's ideological kinship with his classical models, M. Lambraki-Plaka, Director of the Athens National Gallery, notes: "Verticals, horizontals, diagonals and curves compose a harmonious whole full of intensity, hidden under apparent tranquillity."3 As Nobel laureate O. Elytis once said of Moralis, "by using a limited vocabulary of form, Moralis has succeeded—in a manner unprecedented in Greek art—to transform the language of the natural world into a purely optical phenomenon. Memories and encounters are repeatedly distilled until they blend into forms of great simplicity and precision."4

    Elaborating on the relationship of painting and architecture in Moralis' work from the 1960s, art critic A. Xydis notes: "For a long time I have believed that the qualities of Moralis's art were particularly appropriate to the full expression of a work of architecture. His strength in and love of composition, his sensitive and balanced colour harmonies, the diligence of his technique, and the clarity and monumentality in the organization of planes and volumes, make up a combination of qualities much sought after by architects. They are even related to those that belong to a good architect, whose artistic temperament must at every moment be subjected to the control of reason."5

    1 Composition adorned the Xenia hotel in Florina, designed in 1960 by architect G. Nikoletopoulos in the vein of the legendary modernist Aris Konstantinidis. As noted by art critic A. Xydis, "since 1959, Moralis produced a series of epoch-making works that paved the way to a wider use of artists by architects, who realised that they had only to gain from such a collaboration. In his first such works [as is the case with the Florina Xenia], Moralis did not depart far from the easel painting techniques he had been using at the time, the more so as these works were intended for interior spaces. He worked either in situ or in his studio." A. Xydis, "Auspicious Collaboration of Art and Architecture, the Work of Yannis Moralis 1959-1963" [in Greek], Architectoniki journal, no. 42, November-December 1963, p. 8.
    2 As noted by the artist himself, Composition was painted in the studio of artist Natalia Mela. See Yannis Moralis, Architectural Compositions [in Greek], exhibition catalogue, Benaki Museum, Athens 2011, p. 53.
    3 M. Lambraki-Plaka, "Classic and Human-centred" [in Greek], Kathimerini daily, Epta Imeres, 10.4.1994, p. 11
    4 O. Elytis, preface to the Moralis exhibition catalogue, Iolas-Zoumboulakis Gallery, Athens 1972.
    5 Xydis, p. 8.
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