Leopold Survage

Russian/French, 1879–1968 Biography

In 1879, Leopold Survage was born in Moscow, where he studied at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture. There he met the sculptor Alexander Archipenko, the avant-garde Russian painter Mikhail Fyodorovich Larionov, and the abstract artist Kazimir Malevich from Kiev.

Survage was shown the works of Manet, Gauguin and Matisse by a rich merchant, a serendipitous introduction to modern art which convinced Survage to move to Paris in 1908. Upon his arrival in Paris, Survage was fortunate to have the opportunity to study with Matisse at his academy on the Boulevard des Invalides. His old friend Archipenko introduced him to all the important art circles in Paris.

Survage began to exhibit with the Cubists at the Salon des Indépendants in 1911. He also exhibited at the Salon d’Autumne in 1912 and throughout his career. In 1912-1913, Survage created a style of painting called “Rhythme Colore” that presaged the abstract expressionist movement that was born 40 years later. These pictures contained musical references in much the same way as the paintings by the abstract Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky. Many of these large music-keyed paintings by Survage are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. 

In 1919, Survage was one of the original founders of the Section d’Or (Golden Section in French) along with Albert Gleizes, Georges Braque, Louis Marcoussisi, and Serge Ferat. This organization known also as Groupe de Puteaux or Puteaux Group, comprised a group of painters and critics who were associated with an offshoot of Cubism called Orphism, in existence from 1912 to 1914.

Beginning in 1924, Survage began to take a number of vacations to the South of France. These trips would mark a turning point in his art. He began to use bright colors and to include figures in his landscape paintings, a format that was destined to become one of his stylistic hallmarks. In the 1930s, his work began to show a strong surrealist influence which continued in La Maternité, 1942. The artist’s bright colors as well as figures can also be seen in this surrealist landscape work.

Chevalier de La Légion d’Honneur, 1963

La Guirlande Exhibition, Moscow, 1907
Salon des Indépendents, Paris, 1911, 1914
Salon d’Automne, Paris, 1912, 1913
Galerie Bongard, Paris, 1917 (solo)
L’Effort Modern Gallery, Paris, 1919
Galerie Granoff, Paris, 1927 (solo)
Kraushaar Gallery, New York, 1927 (solo)
Chester Johnson Gallery, Chicago, 1927 (solo)
L’Exposition de la Peinture Français Moderne, Moscow and Leningrad, 1928
Knoedler Gallery, New York, 1929
Painting in Paris, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1929
L’Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1937
Exhibition Paris, 1937 (medal)
Exhibition Genoa, 1951 (medal)
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon, 1960
Exhibition, Turin, 1964 (medal)

Art Institute of Chicago
Bezalel Museum, Jerusalem
Canton Museum of Art, Ohio
Céret Museum of Modern Art, France
Harvard University Art Museums, Massachusetts
Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana

Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon
Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris
Musée National d'Art Moderne Georges Pompidou, Paris
Musée du Petit Palais, Geneva
Museum of Modern Art, New York
National Museum, Athens
National Museum of Arts, Moscow

Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

La Maternité

Casein on panel
23 ⅝ x 20 ⅝ inches
36 ¼ x 32 ¾ inches framed
Signed and dated lower right Survage. / 10.12.42
Galerie René Breteau Exhibition label on verso: L'Oeuvre et La Palette/Mai-Juin 1944; louis Maitre /17/12/44

Galerie René Breteau
Collection Louis Martin, acquired from above December 1944
Galerie René Breteau

L’Oeuvre et la Palette, Galerie René Breteau, Paris, May – June 1944 (old exhibition label on reverse)