Pavel Tchelitchew

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Pavel Tchelitchew
Anatomical Head
Watercolor on paper [Grumbacher linen].
20 15/16 x 15 inches (532 x 381 mm)
The Joseph F. McCrindle Collection.

Pavel Tchelitchew, a Russian-born American surrealist, was a highly accomplished draftsmen and figurative artist, best known for his complex allegories exploring the relationship between humans and elements from the natural landscape. Throughout the late 1930s and early 1940s, he developed a range of imagery in which the human body underwent a metamorphosis resulting in a union with the natural world, culminating in his masterpiece Hide and Seek (1940-42) in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art. Following the creation of this painting, Tchelitchew embarked on a series of "Interior Landscapes" in which he inverted the process of transformation from his earlier work, now presenting a vision of the human exterior and its microcosmic interior structures and processes. In this watercolor drawing from the McCrindle collection, a translucent, skeletal head is seen in profile view, its intricate network of veins and arteries made plainly visible. Tchelitchew was attempting to see the human form, in his own words, "as in a crystal transparent vase" which would permit "a coming and going--the beginning and pulsation of the life of the object" (Duncan 14, n. 33). Though evoking an x-ray, Tchelitchew's image is less concerned with the processes of scientific dissection than it is with dissolving the boundaries between interior and exterior, offering a more holistic view of the dynamic human body in the world. Works cited: Michael Duncan, Pavel Tchelitchew: The Landscape of the Body, exh. cat. (New York: Katonah Museum of Art, 1998).


Inscribed at lower right in pen and black ink, "P. Tchelitchew. 47".

Park Benet June 5, 1980 (lot 341); Joseph F. McCrindle, New York (McCrindle collection no. A1094).
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