May 18, 2023 - Sale 2637

Sale 2637 - Lot 38

Price Realized: $ 10,625
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 7,000 - $ 10,000

GUSTAV KLUTSIS (1895-1938)

[POLITBURO]. Photocollage maquette with mixed media. 1935.

Sheet - 14 1/2x34 1/2 inches, 36 3/4x87 1/2 cm. Design - 13 1/2x21 3/4 inches, 34 1/4x55 1/4 cm.
Condition A-: minor skinning where Klutsis "self-censored" and removed photo-portraits; tears, creases and pin holes at folded edges of sheet, not affecting image; hand-signed and dated by the artist in pencil. Paper.

This multimedia collage features a portrait of Stalin, backed by a statue of Lenin, with smaller portraits of Politburo members on either side. Klutsis utilizes a composition reminiscent of traditional Russian iconography to illustrate this executive policy-making committee of the Bolshevik party. We can surmise that the removed upper row of portraits was a result of Klutsis' self-censorship, "perhaps in fear of being accused of supporting the 'people's enemies' . . . The empty ovals [in another study for this portrait] reserved for the heads of the tyrant's servants, were subject to perpetual replacement. At this point, Klutsis' role as a photomontage artist was fully controlled by the government, and his compositional choices began to equal life-and-death decisions" (The Soviet Photograph, 1924-1937, by Margarita Tupitsyn). This study is similar in composition to Klutsis' finished poster Politburo TsK VKP(B) of this same year (See V&A E.1267-1989), though that printed poster resulted in a different layout of the portraits. Other photomontages of the Politburo feature blacked-out or cut-out portraits, in an attempt to keep up with the changing roster of dissenters.