Sam SZAFRAN (Paris 1934 - Paris 2019)

Staircase Sold

Pastel on card.
Signed Szafran at the lower centre.
284 x 190 mm. (11 1/8 x 7 1/2 in.)


‘If I had known what I was letting myself in for, admits Szafran, I probably would never have bought my first box of pastels. I found myself, in 1958, fresh from abstract art, in front of these little multicolored sticks like a poverty-stricken child in a Belgian or Swiss delicatessen amidst an abundance of candy and cakes, and I seized them without even thinking. For twenty years I threw myself into this technique, because I was incapable of mastering it.’ (Gilles Néret, ‘Szafran ou la passion du pastel’, Connaissance des Arts, March 1980, p.92).

Drawn in 1980, the present sheet depicts one of Szafran’s favourite subjects; a staircase seen from above in steep perspectival foreshortening. The artist himself has noted that ‘The impression of the void, of vertigo, is the strongest sensation I have ever experienced. This can explain why my drawings always contain a hint of vertigo and that often, in front of my subject, I’m terrified by the calling of the void.’

A closely related drawing, of smaller dimensions, was one of several works by Szafran in the collection of Jacques and Anne Kerchache and was sold at auction in Paris in 2010. A much larger pastel of the same staircase, dating from 1981, is in the collection of the Musée national d’Art moderne at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

Anonymous sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 4 July 2000, lot 68
Galerie Nathalie Seroussi, Paris
Private collection, Paris, until 2012.




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