Arthur Segal, Romanian, 1857-1944, equivalents painting, Oil on Burlap and Frame, dated indistinctly lower left 1924, signed lower right 'A. Segal', also signed on frame on reverse 'A. Segal', Label on Reverse: With the Compliments of Marianne Segal the Curator of the Arthur Segal Collection, Englands Lane NW9 (LEV110)
41 1/2" H x 33 3/4" W
Relined, crazing upper center, scattered edge losses to frame, approx. 12 areas of restoration to painted frame, each measuring approx. 1/2", 1 restored area upper center 1/2" x 3 1/4", and one area upper left 1/2" x 2".
From the Estate of Julius Levy, 320 West 87th Street, New York City.
Notes: Among the information found in the Levy Estate regarding Segal was a July/August 1969 issue of Studio International that contained a long article about Segal written by the critic Norbert Lynton. Lynton writes:
One of the best and probably most sympathetic of German Cubists was Arthur Segal... He was very active in the art movements of Germany: he helped to found the New Secession in 1910 (And his wife Ernestine was its secretary), and he played a leading role in the November Group.
...Segals Cubism is not easily described. It seems to have originated from the example of Delaunay in that it involves the more or less regular dividing of the canvas into rectangular areas, and also, often, the spreading of divisions and the colour and tonal shifts that mark them onto the frame itself. But Segal was not as concerned as Delaunay was with color. He was very much concerned with light, but his concern could be expressed in oppositions of light and dark as much as in colour oppositions. Some of his Cubist paintings are tonal in effect, even when they include colour as enrichment and as expressive charge; others are radiant with colour used constructively. He named the whole series equivalents: each area of the picture is given the same pictorial presence, which means also that each part of the subject is given the same value. His means to this aesthetic and ethical egalitarianism was the basic modern one of complimentarity light acting against dark, colour acting against contrasting colour. He resisted the assumption that a well-composed picture must have dominant passages, and saw in it a symbol of human conflict in all spheres. In his pictures, as in nature, everything was to be equal: the eye of the spectator had to give the same attention to all parts, and the painted frame was meant to indicate that a picture is no limited section but continues into infinite space.
These paintings, done between 1917 and 1927, are his main contribution to modern art and they deserve to be known much better. Lissitzky and Arp admired them, and included one in their highly selective survey of modern art, the book Kunstismen. Lissitzkys friend and collaborator, the architect Mart Stam, recently wrote in praise of these paintings in a poetic essay on Lissitzky (quoted in the recently published Lissitzky monograph, but here too, in spite of Kunstismen, the index credits all reference to Segal as belonging to Lasar Segal). The Swedish collector Gabrielson bought several of them, and asked Segal to buy modern paintings for him; the result of the commission was a brilliant survey of constructive tendencies in Germany in 1922-1923.
What separates Segals equivalents from other post-Cubism is their preservation of the subject in a context of apparent dislocation. Even Delaunays Cubism, far from aggressive, diminished its subjects into palely perceptible signs. Gris asserted the subject of his pictorial constructions, but for him the subject was an element introduced into a construction, and least of all the source of the impetus to construct. Some of Segals paintings are entirely abstract, but when he based a picture on a subjectoften in this period they were landscapes or townscapeshe gave it full value. Even though the surface of his paintings appears fragmented by the interaction of contrasting areas, the motif comes through as necessary and real..."