09-23-2016 09-24-2016
Skinner Auctions
Skinner Auctions Boston MA
2930B Boston
September 23, 2016 12:00 PMCalender

Ilya Bolotowsky (Russian/American, 1907-1981) Diamond with Three Blues

Auction: American & European Works of Art - 2930B Location: Boston Date / Time: September 23, 2016 4:00PM


Ilya Bolotowsky (Russian/American, 1907-1981)

Diamond with Three Blues
Signed and dated "Ilya Bolotowsky/69" l.r., titled on a label affixed to the stretcher.
Acrylic on canvas, 42 1/4 x 42 1/4 in. (107.3 x 107.3 cm), framed (under glass).
Condition: Minor puncture, craquelure, surface grime.

N.B. Russian born, American painter and sculptor Ilya Bolotowsky immigrated to the United States when he was sixteen years old. During the 1930s, Bolotowsky connected with many of the European avant-garde artists who found themselves in the New York City. He became particularly close to Piet Mondrian who served as a mentor, teaching him the tenets of De Stijl, a movement that sought ideal harmony in the abstract use of color and line. Bolotowsky was also inspired by Joan Miró's Surrealist biomorphic forms and Pierre Matisse's bold, Fauvist colors, as he was able to see examples of their work in the New York galleries. Absorbing all of these influences, Bolotowsky advocated for abstract art in the U.S. at a time when Realism and Regionalism were dominant. He was a founding member of the "American Abstract Artists," and he painted numerous abstract murals under the auspices of government-sponsored programs, such as the WPA's Federal Art Project (FAP). Bolotowsky's 1936 Williamsburg Housing Project Mural was one of the first abstract murals done under the program.

Throughout his career, Bolotowsky created variations on geometric abstraction. In the painting at hand, we see a square canvas with dynamic intersecting blue shapes. Much like Mondrian's paintings, color here functions to balance the composition: the smaller rectangle of yellow on the right counterbalances the larger rectangle of blue on the left. The darker, thinner rectangles of blue seem to move towards each other, but stop just before meeting, creating tension at the center of the canvas. During this time, Bolotowsky also experimented with a variety of shaped canvases: round, elliptical, and diamond, and in 1961 he took the sculptural and architectural possibilities of Mondrian's teachings further and began painting columns. In 1974 the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York presented a retrospective of his work.

The sale of this lot benefits the College of Fine Arts, Boston University.
Estimate $18,000-22,000

Minor puncture upper right had quadrant measuring 0.2 x 0.2 cm. Craquelure in the upper half of the painting. No further condition issues to report.
Frame dimensions: 44 1/2 x 44 1/2 in.

The absence of a condition statement does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition or completely free from wear and tear, imperfections or the effects of aging. Condition requests can be obtained via email (lot inquiry button) or by telephone to the appropriate gallery location (Boston/617.350.5400 or Marlborough/508.970.3000). Any condition statement given, as a courtesy to a client, is only an opinion and should not be treated as a statement of fact. Skinner Inc. shall have no responsibility for any error or omission.


Pierre Matisse, Joan Mir, N.B. Russian, New York City, United States