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Andre Lanskoy (1902 -1976)

Born Moscow 31 March 1902, died Paris 22 August 1976.Son of Count Lanskoy, he was a pupil at the School of Pages in St. Petersburgh, and at the outbreak of the Revolution joined the Czarist forces. Afterwards he lived in Kiev, where he began to paint under the guidance of Soudeikine, a fashionable painter- decorator, and then moved to the Crimea. In Paris in 1921 he attended the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, where he discovered the work of Van Gogh and Matisse, and associated with Soutine, whose influence may be seen in Lanskoy’s expressionist paintings of figures and still-lives of this period. After exhibiting in a group show in 1923, he was discovered by Wilhelm Uhde, who organised his first one-man show in 1925. He showed landscapes and interiors, but subject matter was secondary to the surface quality of the paint and the luminous colour harmonies which tended towards a dominant monochrome. In 1938 an exhibition of his work toured the Netherlands. By 1939 his gouaches already showed colour liberated from its imitative capacity and used for its purely expressive qualities. But it was not until the final years of the war that the rest of his work became concerned with abstracting the painted form from reality. He always refused to attribute great importance to this journey towards abstraction, affirming the identity of nature between figurative and abstract painting. Those works made between 1944 and 1948 were exhibited in Paris in 1948, and exhibitions followed in Brussels, London, Lausanne, Zurich, New York, Berlin and elsewhere. His paintings attracted the interest of the painter De Staël and were described as, ‘teeming as a virgin forest, brilliant as a Russian ballet, inventive as a popular fete, prodigal as a prosperous grandee’. The brilliant colour and heavy impasto of his canvases translated easily into tapestries of an oriental richness. He took part in innumerable group exhibitions, including, in Paris, the Salons de Mai and the Realités Nouvelles.