Cubism brought me some elements of the language that was to become mine, as also did classicism. Their influence, their spirit, have left their mark on me, although I never tried to follow them. Theories are useful in order to demonstrate, to explain, but not to create. Achievements convince me. I take from where I feel that there is an echo with something that is already within me. An artist’s bonds and affinities with painting formulas from previous periods are ncessary links with the past because they ensure continuity.

Théodore Strawinsky

(interviewed by Nicolette Frank, “Rencontré le peintre Théodore Strawinsky, fils d’Igor”, La Libre Belgique, 1977 and Gérard Mauborgne, “Théodore Strawinsky à la Galerie des Remparts”, Le Maine Libre, 1984)

With the exception of a few works inspired by mythological or religious subjects, Strawinsky’s easel paintings consisted of portraits, still lifes, and landscapes. From the twenties to the forties his portraits bore the hallmarks of Picasso and André Derain, and were influenced by the New Objectivity approach. Their volumetric and sculptural forms sought to capture the model’s psychological make-up. Their serious, even melancholic appearance reflected the troubled years of crisis and war. This same sentiment permeates the heavy atmosphere of his landscapes executed in the forties: stormy, often devoid of human presence, almost eerie. The artist’s affinity with the French tradition of historic landscapes, of which Nicolas Poussin was one of the masters, is also noticeable. His still lifes were characterised by the same plasticity; they not only demonstrated the painter’s degree of ‘artistry’, but also, at the end of the war, provided a basis for re-examining his figurative style. Strawinsky then went back to geometric forms and colour and at the same time moved away from oil painting to pastel, gouache and watercolour.

Philippe Kaenel

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