As a child, I only see myself holding a brush. My first problem of budding painter is already that of an eye who will always, all through his life, observe “as a painter” : I was very much tormented by the following issue : Should I obey my own fancy and draw whatever occurs to me or paint from life ? Drawing problem to be solved, appealing to visual memory, perplexity, reflection.
Théodore Strawinsky (Lo Strona n° 2, 1980)
Throughout his career Strawinsky executed numerous drawings, especially for painting projects, and decorative and monumental art works. But his very first drawings and watercolour paintings were created when he was a child, during WWI. They were carefully preserved by his parents, who often dated and signed them with his nickname Fedia, at a time when avant-garde artists were passionate about children’s art.
The visual universe of the young Théodore was inspired by very colourful works, some of which hung on the walls of the parental home in Morges, and later in Clarens. These included drawings by his mother, Japanese prints, sketches by the Russian painter Michel Larionov, and folk-art images cut in wood (lubki), as well as illustrated newspapers with pictures and photographs of the war.
Holiday landscapes (in the Prealps) and views of Morges and Clarens, near Montreux, alternated with scenes of military manoeuvers. The child was fascinated by all this. In addition to trains, cars, horsemen, canons, even Red Cross activities, he painted portraits of generals, as well as a number of more imaginative scenes such as naval battles. These works culminated in a large watercolour, in 1918, depicting the first night of l’Histoire du Soldat (The Soldier’s Tale). At the beginning of the twenties, in Paris, he started to focus on still lifes and circus scenes, laying the ground for his future works.