Yiannis Moralis (Greek, 1916-2009) Nudes 	 70 x 50.5 cm.

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Lot 49AR P
Yiannis Moralis
(Greek, 1916-2009)
Nudes 70 x 50.5 cm.

Sold for £ 75,062 (US$ 97,657) inc. premium
Yiannis Moralis (Greek, 1916-2009)
Nudes
signed in Greek and dated '56' (lower left); signed, inscribed and dated (on the reverse)
oil on cardboard
70 x 50.5 cm.

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Acquired directly from the artist by the family of the present owner.

    Literature
    Yannis Moralis, Commercial Bank of Greece Group of Companies edition, Athens 1988, no. 95, p. 99 (illustrated).

    Noble simplicity and calm grandeur mark Moralis's Two nudes, achieving a modern realization of the classical ideal: the elimination of the temporary, the elevation of form to a symbol and the pursuit of balance between lyrical feeling and intellectual thought.

    Reviewing the artist's work up to 1958, when Moralis co-represented Greece in the 29th Venice Biennale, M. Chatzidakis noted: "In seeking to enrich the intellectual content of his work, Moralis was led to a conscious and gradual conquest of space where the construction is at once solid and expressive; where every inch of painted surface is subordinate to the spirit of the canvas which expresses an enduring world. Never has Moralis attempted to reproduce nature's play of light on bodies or objects. Instead, his figures are imbued with their own light, stable and unnatural, as found in Byzantine art, where the light source is indefinable. Anatomical distortion and the foreshortened perspective of figures are subordinate to the calm rhythm of the composition."1

    The female nude has always been a key subject in Moralis's art, tracing his stylistic development and revealing the wide range of his art historical and intellectual interests.2 In the 1950s, his evocative female nudes, either sitting or reclining, were gradually stripped of descriptive detail and handled in a more abstractive fashion, without, however, losing their recognizable form.3 In Two nudes, the purity of form, the composed immobility, the subtle use of colour and spatial relationships, the serene and disciplined rhythm dictated by a deep sense for human scale, and the shallow compositional depth reminiscent of sculptural relief, echo the timeless values of Greek idealistic art4 (compare Composition, 1951, Bonhams, Greek Sale, 17 April 2019, lot 32.)

    By sacrificing superfluous descriptive detail, rejecting the illusion of space, avoiding tonal gradations and emphasizing only the essential structural elements, Moralis expresses what is permanent and universal. "Dedicated to the human figure, particularly the female one, Moralis has given us some of the most significant and intrinsic aspects of 20th c. art—not only of Greek but of world art. Above all else his paintings are at once erotic, profoundly sentimental and poetic. In them one may trace a progress from earthly to heavenly love, from the sensual aspects of the subject to the universal and eternal, to the metaphysical and the transcendental."5 As N. Hadjikyriakos-Ghika once noted, "Moralis's youthful females, closely attuned to the idealism of ancient Greek art, are lovable forms endowed with grace and tenderness, created by the Muses and the Hours."6

    1 M. Chatzidakis, "Yiannis Moralis", The Charioteer review, vol. 1, no. 1, Summer 1960, pp. 56-62. See also M. Chatzidakis, "Yiannis Moralis", Zygos magazine, no. 80, July 1962, p. 6.
    2 See D. Papastamos, "Yannis Moralis the Artist" in Yannis Moralis, Commercial Bank of Greece, Athens 1988, pp. 27, 28.
    3 See K. Koutsomallis, "The Painting of Yannis Moralis, a Tentative Approach" in Y. Moralis, Traces, exhibition catalogue, Museum of Contemporary Art of the Basil and Elise Goulandris Foundation, Andros 2008, p. 17.
    4 See H. Kambouridis - G. Levounis, Modern Greek Art - the 20th Century, Ministry of the Aegean, Athens 1999, p. 126.
    5 C. Christou, Moralis, Adam editions, Athens 1993, pp. 20, 33, 34.
    6 N. Hadjikyriakos-Ghika, Nea Estia magazine, no. 1245, 15 May 1979.
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P Owned by a private individual

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