Victor Brauner (1903-1966)
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Victor Brauner (1903-1966)

Origine de la poésie

Victor Brauner (1903-1966)
Origine de la poésie
signed with the initials and dated 'V.B.II.1957' (lower right)
encaustic painting and ink on paper laid down on board
25¾ x 20 1/8 in. (65.5 x 50.1 cm.)
Executed in February 1957
Private collection, Paris, by whom acquired directly from the artist and thence by descent; sale, Christie's, London, 7 February 2001, lot 225.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
St. Paul, Fondation Maeght, Exposition René Char, 1971, no. 582.
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.


Mr Samy Kinge has kindly confirmed the authenticity of this work.

Painted in 1957, Victor Brauner's Origine de la poésie depicts a totemic figure, strongly related to the stylized shapes of the small Cycladic idols of the Bronze Age. Set next to the sun and stripes of colour, this symbolic figure appears at once enigmatic and metaphorical. Combining encaustic technique with ink on paper, the work exemplifies Brauner's creative revival of this technique.

Brauner started experimenting with encaustic during the Second World War, probably out of necessity due to the scarcity of materials. The technique, which resonates with the art of Ancient civilizations, pushed Brauner to explore a new hermetic mythology. 'While I was executing my wax paintings', Brauner wrote, 'I felt I was performing the great spagyric art' (V. Brauner, quoted in Victor Brauner, Miti, presagi, simboli, exh. cat., Lugano, 1985, p. 24). Spagyric - derived from the Greek spao, meaning 'to extract' and ageiro, meaning 'to reunite' - is the term the occultist fifteenth-century Paracelsus used to refer to alchemy. Brauner manifested a strong interest in Paracelsus's writings, as well as those by Cornelius Agrippa and books such as Amulettes, talismans, pentacles. 'Painting', Brauner declared, 'is an initiatory technique that pushes me into my secret and interior zones and makes me discover important things about myself. I cannot say which ones. I can give an example: when one plays chess, one obeys to a mental discipline. After having played chess, one sees things clearer, understanding them better. This is a very mysterious initiatory discipline which functions in the same way in the painted object. It goes well beyond the simple fact of having painted it' (V. Brauner in 1956, quoted in Ibid., p. 84).