Klimt and Tarkovsky lead the sale at Shapiro Auctions in New York

Gustav Klimt

This portfolio of prints by Gustav Klimt brought an impressive $114,000 at Shapiro Auctions Spring sale

Shapiro Auctions, New York, NY presented a remarkable variety of fine and decorative art among the 434 lots included in the March 29th sale, with a portfolio of collotype plates by Gustav Klimt leading the way with a final price of $114,000. Das Werk Von Gustav Klimt, the only monograph ever published during the artist’s lifetime, presented a collection of fifty poly and monochrome prints of iconic works by the celebrated leader of the Vienna Seccession. This exceptional volume, which served as the opening lot of the auction, was acquired for almost four times its high estimate.

The Russian + International sale brought together a diverse selection, including stunning examples of works by European Old and Modern masters, Russian Orthodox icons, works by 19th century Russian and Easter European luminaries, paintings and sculpture by members of the Non-Conformist movement, antique and rare books, as well as works of decorative art and objects of vertu, including pieces from the famed workshop of Fabergé.

Among the diverse selection of works by Russian and European masters, 19th century country views and seascapes proved to be particularly in demand.  A quiet summer landscape by Isaak Levitan from the collection of the Russian Impressionist artist Konstantin Korovin, was acquired by a collector for $120,000. A small view of a Ship in the Black Sea by the celebrated marine artist, Ivan Aivazovsky, brought in $72,000, while Stanislav Zhukovsky’s atmospheric, Midnight Over the Monastery, raised $24,000, twice it’s low estimate. Landscapes by modern masters were sought after, as well, with each of the four paintings by the Non-Conformist artist Alexander Kharitonov greatly surpassing their estimates (lots 166-169).

an early Soviet Russian papier-mache piece AGITLAK caused a bidding war at Shapiro Auctions

an early Soviet Russian papier-mache piece AGITLAK caused a bidding war at Shapiro Auctions

The works of decorative artists, manuscripts and artist books, including a rare deluxe copy of L`Art décoratif théâtral modern, a collaborative work by the pivotal figures of the Russian avant-garde, Natalia Goncharova and Mikhail Larionov, which sold for $19,200 (original estimate $13,000-15,000) attracted a large number of bidders. Two stunning examples of ‘agitlak’ – varnished papier-mâché with early Soviet imagery painted in miniature – drew an eager audience (lots 356 & 357, sold for $28,800 each). It was a group of four highly important typescripts of screenplays by Andrey Tarkovsky, including an annotated script for the cult sci-fi classic film, Stalker, however, that achieved the highest selling price at the auction, bringing $300,000.

The next sale at Shapiro Auctions is scheduled to take place late May, with a focus on Russian Modern, Non-Conformist and Contemporary Art, followed by a sale of International Post-War and Contemporary Art in November 2014, as well as an auction of Russian + International Art in autumn of 2014. They are currently accepting consignments for each of the sales.

For a free auction estimate or a certified appraisal, please contact info@shapiroauctions.com or call 212-717-7500.

Mount Ararat. Climb Up & Say Om!



by Maria Koby

Light subtle colors of green and summer, off-beat, long and winding road to Mount Ararat. Getting there might seem like eternity but it’s a rejuvenating, mind-blowing exploration. On your way there you are intoxicated by the strong scent of wild flowers, wheat grass; you are smitten by a merciless sun, then you’re showered by a heavy rain, and dried by a gentle sun. The snowy tip of Ararat is your compass, your guiding light. You are covered by a heavy exhaustion from walking miles and miles. You’d rather turn around but you already reached the point of no return. So you keep going up in solitude, surrounded by spontaneous music of birds, grasshoppers and wind. Once you reach the highland, it will be one trippy trip. Adrenaline fills your veins and lungs; you are high high high on heavy clouds of sky,  ascending those cliffs. On the peak of the mountain you  embrace serenity, at last. That is when you are going to sing Om.

Gene Shapiro Auction has a fine collection of paintings by Armenian artists, such as Bashinzagyan, Khachaturian and Saryan.


Mount Ararat , 1911
oil on canvas
80 x 129 cm. (31 1/2 x 50 3/4 in.) [sight]
signed in Cyrillic and dated Bashinzhagyan 1911 Tiflis lower left



the Divine Art of IconMaking

by Maria Koby

Russian Icons are known for a turbulent past. Periods of oblivion and repression – the mass destruction of icons during the Russian Revolution, the iconoclasm  Bolsheviks confiscated church property in the 1920s and 30s, and as the result a huge number of icons were sold abroad. Then came periods of spiritual flights and artistic revelation, inspiring great movie directors such as Andrey Tarkovsky and Andrei Kanchalovsky to make a movie about Andrey Rublev, a 15th century medieval painter of icons and frescoes.

The contemporary Russian word ‘ikon’ was borrowed from German only in the 19th century, and in ancient times they used a more accurate equivalent of the Greek ‘eikon’ – ‘obraz’ (image), its purpose being to depict, through pigments on a flat surface, the likeness of a real prototype. At all times, the icon remained the image of the eternal and the value of the icon in Christianity was perceived in the sacred meaning. The Kievan Metropolitan Ilarion (mid-11th century) believed that a person contemplating an icon penetrates by his ‘interior gaze’ beyond the representation, and thus gains the possibility of spiritual intercourse with the prototype. The Church understands the icon as a sacred image of a higher, divine reality, as a visible reflection of the invisible. It is considered that to fully understand the icon, one needs to be able to read it, to understand its spiritual symbolism.

Henri Matisse became one of the first painters who appreciated the Russian icons’ great significance for the development of contemporary art.

Gene Shapiro Auction House is proud to have a great variety of icons, from 15th to 19th century.

Deisis Icon, Lot #2icon


École de Paris & All that Jazz

by Maria Koby

Imagine Paris circa 1920. Montparnasse. You are a young promising artist from Eastern Europe. Someone like Isaac Pailes or Jacques Chapiro, en route from Kiev via Constantinople to the city of love, snails, chevre, wine, fashion and art. Your curiosity is insatiable, and like a hungry wolf you’re devouring Montmarte, small brick streets and its amusing peculiar inhabitants. When twilight breaks, you walk in Cafe de la Rotonde. The smoke of tobacco cigarette, dissonant chords, and scattered beats envelope you from head to toe. Up on the stage, a tall exotic creole creature undulates intensely, au naturel. That’s Josephine Baker. Welcome to the Jazz Age!  Spontaneously, your legs start swinging too, but a pleasant exhaustion takes over; you find a garcon and order a glass of absinthe. You’re looking for an empty spot at the table. Alas, all seats are taken. But suddenly, out of the tobacco haze, someone waves at you amicably. You walk towards the table behind the center stage. Three friendly faces greet you affectionately. It is a common thing that at the place like that artists are never treated like aliens. Come and meet your friends, Picasso, Modigliani and Leger! You are discombobulated and overwhelmed by such a rapid turns. “Relax.” Leger instructs. “Here, a man relaxes and recaptures his taste for life, his frenzy to dance, to spend money…An explosion of life-force fills the world.” You get it alright. The bits and pieces of conversation blends with absinthe, jokes and dances. Soon Oscar Wilde joins your small party. Soon Josephine Baker asks you for a dance. Soon absinthe kicks off. Soon a green muse visits you and in your head you start drawing various sketches. Cubism, expressionism. Soon the night will end and all broke you might head to la Ruche where you will perhaps share a studio with Amadeo. It’s going to be a prolific experience. A lot of art work, lots of wine, snails and chevre, and occasionally absinthe. Men and women, lovers and friends, chaos and brawls. Sometimes peace. Imagine..

Autumn Sale

Saturday, September 29, 2012 Gene Shapiro will hold its autumn sale in its
series of quarterly auctions of Russian + International fine and decorative
art. This season, the sale, comprised of 444 lots, will emphasize 19th and
20th c. fine art, with more than 250 lots dedicated to paintings from
Russian, European and American artists. The auction will also feature
outstanding icons, bronzes, books, porcelain, modernist furniture, works of
art and miniatures that will not disappoint even the most seasoned
collector. The sale will take place at 10 am on September 29, at the auction
house’s Upper East Side gallery at 506 East 74 Street, New York, NY, with a
weeklong preview beginning on Saturday, September 22. The gallery will be
open for viewing daily from 10 am to 6 pm, as well as by appointment.

The auction will feature over 250 paintings, including a group of sixty
works from a single owner collection of artists from the École de Paris,
including works by Michel Kikoine, Jacques Chapiro, and Pinchus Kremegne,
among others. The sale will also include a series of delicate antique
portrait miniatures on ivory from the 18th to early 20th c., featuring
portraits of such figures from Russian and European history as Empress
Elizabeth Petrovna (lot 114), Empress Elizabeth Alexeievna (lot 115), and
Princess Marie Louise of Savoy (lot 118).

Gene Shapiro retains its status as one of the leading auctioneers of
Russian icons, and the sale will include over thirty icons and religious
works of art. Some of the highlights from this portion of the auction
include lot 147, an early 18th  century monumental Russian icon of the holy
visage with a gilded silver oklad (estimated at $35,000-45,000). Another
magnificent icon of the Iverskaya Mother of God and the Christ Child, lot
173, features an ornate oklad decorated with river pearls and cloisonne
enamel ($45,000-65,000).

As usual, there will be a selection of rare and masterfully executed
bronzes by masters such as Evgeniy Alexandrovich Lanceray, Albert Moritz
Wolf, Nikolai Ivanovich  Lieberich and Vassili Grachev. The sale will
feature two wilderness inspired sculptures by Lieberich, including the
dynamic figural grouping, A Hunter’s Fight With a Bear (lot 94A,
$35,000-45,000) and the stately figure of a Standing  Bear  killed by
Emperor Alexander II in 1865 (lot 94B, $10,000-15,000). The sale will
include several bronzes by Evgeny Lanceray, including a casting of a
Zaporozhian Cossack after Battle (lot 98, $20,000-30,000) and a large
sculpture of Don Cossacks Crossing The Balkans (97, $25,000-35,000).

The sale will feature a large range of paintings from artists as
varied as Julian Onderdonk, Vu Cao Dam,  Francis Newton Souza, Ivan
Aivazovsky, Konstantin Korovin, Konstantin Westchiloff, Boris Aronson, Oleg
Tselkov and Eugene Rukhin. Presented on the auction block will be an
enchanting midnight landscape by Alexander Vasilievich Gine, Woodland by
Moonlight (lot 186, $70,000-90,000),  a mesmerizing early work by Oleg
Vassiliev of a Road to the Country House (lot 350, $20,000-25,000),  as well
as an electrified sculpture by Leonid Sokov of a Bear and Marilyn (lot 360,

The auction and the preview will take place at Gene Shapiro Auctions
at 506 East 74 Street, New York, NY, and a detailed full color catalogue as
well as bidding forms are available at www.geneshapiro.com

Deeper Underground

by Maria Ybok

Throughout mid thirties till the end of eighties of the 20th century post avant-garde art was in exile in all USSR. It was unanimously unequivocally decided by the then USSR leader Nikita Khrushchev that Soviet people did not need any other forms of art except socialist realism, a kind of blunt art which glorified the role of the meek, working class and its communist leaders. Non-conformist painters such as Oscar Rabin and Oleg Tselkov had been driven underground. In the 1950s they became members of the famous Lianozovo Circle of post-avant-garde artists and poets in a small village outside Moscow. The group of artists collaborated together to mock and explode soviet conventions, creating lyrical expressions and surrealism. In 1974 non-conformist artists craving to show off their alternative art came out from their underground to organize an outdoor exhibition, a very risky venue which was dubbed as “Bulldozer exhibition”. Soviet authorities could not put up with the entire event and swept participants and artists in cold blood, confiscating, destroying the art work, and beating them. Even though both artists achieved prominence and recognition they had left to work and live in Paris.

The theme of paintings and verse is often gloomy industrial landscapes, still life full of mockery and sarcasm. Black and brown somber palette reflects acute disgust with the humdrum and absurdity of soviet existence..

This is a unique painting by Oleg Tselkov, “Two Wine Glasses”, 1995, oil on canvas , 81×65 cm, signed in Cyrillic. This hot painting will be available at Gene Shapiro’s upcoming September auction.  Estimate: $18,000-25,000

Anatoly Zverev


by Maria Koby

Loud dissonant sounds. Think Jaco Pastorious. But also think Russia. Spontaneous pencil strokes are raging on paint, defying conventional living, rules, and regulations. This is a unique, recognizable hallmark style of Russian rebel artist Anatoliy Zverev.

Zverev was a legendary non-conformist artist  who didn’t draw a bright line line between art and life, reluctant to money and material values. He came from poverty, and the poverty was so bitter that he had to go to school wearing unmatching shoes. Unequivocally, Zverev was a nugget who became a painter, artist not by choice or formal education ( he was expelled from an art school for disregard for rules and obedience) but thanks to nature’s calling, coupled with life’s circumstances. His first job as an artist was painting fences and boards at recreation parks to help his family. He later was fired because the director saw him using a mop for paintings which was against the regulations.

Zverev’s style has distinct traces of Tachism, (a style of abstract painting in the 1940s – 1950s characterized by spontaneous brushwork, drips and blobs of paint straight from the tube) and expressionism. Yet, Zverev’s style is unique, based on his own philosophical convictions, particularly the idea of momentalism, that everything is in constant change. His paintings and drawings aren’t just a recollection but they are imbued with direct sensation, conjuring up intensity, amplitude of moods and undertones.

The Soviet government was suffocating and prosecuting its talented artists. Yet, the paradox was that the more restrictions it was imposing on them, the more liberating and prolific their art was. Zverev was a true anarchist in the eyes of the soviet government, refusing to be a communist, preferring to be a ‘harmonist’. He had spent most of his life hiding, leading an underground life style and hand to mouth existence. Yet, he was indeed prolific, creating thousands of works and masterpieces. When once, somebody asked him how he lived, the artist replied, “I never lived, I existed. I only lived among those for whom I was painting and who were creating myths about me.”

Gene Shapiro Auctions will have over 15 paintings of Zverev next auction. These were sold during our spring auction.

Faberge Eggs for Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner. Crack them open to see a surprise at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

by Maria Koby

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is exhibiting Faberge from the Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation Collection.

The exhibit features the Lilies-of-the-Valley Basket – the most important Faberge work in a U.S. Collection and three magnificent Imperial Easter Eggs commissioned by and created for the Romanov family. The three of the fifty Imperial Easter Eggs initially were commissioned by Czar Alexander III for his wife, Maria Feodorovna, and then by his son and their heir, Czar Nicholas II for his mother and his wife. The creation of each Imperial Egg involved painstaking design, engraving and polishing, sometimes taking more than a year to complete. Each egg opens to reveal a surprise folding ten-panel screen that bears miniatures filled with diamonds, pearls and other gems. The Lilies-of-the-Valley Basket, considered to be Fabergé’s floral masterpiece. Made in 1896, it was originally presented to Czarina Alexandra Feodorovna and consists of nineteen individual stems emerging from nine separate plants in a “moss” of spun, fused, clipped, and polished green and yellow gold. Each pearl blossom is edged in silver set with rose-cut diamonds, with realistic leaves made of hard, dense nephrite and carved with the striations characteristic of the lily-of-the-valley plant. The czarina adored the Lilies-of- the-Valley Basket, as the blossoms were among her favorite flowers, and pearls her favorite jewels. She kept it on view in the private apartments and often took it with her when traveling.These iconic works form the House of Faberge have not been on public view in New York since 2004.

The House of Faberge, founded by the creator jeweler Peter Carl Faberge in 1870 became the largest jewelry enterprise in Russia until the Russian Revolution in 1918.

Gene Shapiro’s Auction House has a small number of fine Faberge works available.



Lets Horse Around


By Maria Koby

Two Russian 19th century artists-sculptors Grachev Vassiliy & Evgeniy Lanceray came from different backgrounds. Grachev Vassiliy was born a peasant man, while Lanceray – into a noble family. Yet, they both shared a common and earthly affinity – the love for horses. Lanceray wasn’t only a sculptor but a talented painter. One of his favorite themes were Russian Empire wars and battles, warships of Peter the Great and ethnic themes, inspired by his travels around central Asia, Caucus and North Africa. Grachev focused on crafting small miniature bronze sculptures, portraying rural life scenes. Yet, portrayal of horses were the focal point of the artists. Interestingly, none of the artists pursued a formal art education. In fact, Lanceray graduated from law school. Grachev studied sculpture with private masters.

If you’re interested in acquiring a bronze sculpture by Vassili Grachev, Gene Shapiro’s Auction House has still a limited number of lots available for your acquisition. One of the works I like is Winter Troika  an intricate bronze patina on wood base. If you look close, you catch the details of the horse ride.