Gino Severini - Living the Avant-Garde: The Triton Collection Foundation, Evening Sale Part I New York Tuesday, November 14, 2023 | Phillips
  • Mare = Ballerina is a radiant composition of arcs and angles rendered in prismatic color. Gino Severini’s marks are alive with energy, which seems to burst forth from each dynamic stroke. Created in 1913-1914, concurrent to the publication of Severini’s first personal Futurist manifesto, “The Plastic Analogies of Dynamism,” 1913, Mare = Ballerina encapsulates Severini’s interpretation of Futurist values in terms of color and composition; moreover, the title of the work is the very analogy Severini uses in the text to explain his theory. 


    Georges Braque, Nature morte, harpe et violin, 1911. Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf. Image: bpk Bildagentur / Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf / Walter Klein / Art Resource, NY, Artwork: © 2023 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris 

    Born in a small town in Italy, Severini spent his teenaged years in Rome, and moved to Paris in 1906. Severini was an early, dedicated member of the Futurist movement—he signed the first two manifestos in 1910, and his studio practice in Paris formed a crucial link between the Parisian Cubists and Italian Futurists, in both artistic and social terms. Mare = Ballerina, for instance, evokes the stippled brushstroke of Georges Braque (whose studio was next to Severini’s), and the essential fragmentation of early analytical cubism. Severini represented such Cubist ideas of prismatic color and simultaneity among his Italian peers, and, inversely, he organized the first Futurist exhibition outside of Italy at Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, in 1912.


    With “The Plastic Analogies of Dynamism,” written for his solo exhibition at Marlborough Gallery, London in 1913, Severini outlined his personal interpretation of Futurist values. For Severini, it was useless for an artist to depict individual objects; rather, it was the relationships between objects—the associations, memories, or “analogies,” as he called them—that were worth painting.i These analogies represent the gap between external reality and the interior of the individual mind, and so, they exist in a separate dimension of “qualitative radiations,” which can only be rendered visible in Futurist artistic terms; e.g., the artist’s unique “plastic sensibility.”ii


    As an example, Severini used the analogy, mare = ballerina.iii He explained: “The sea dancing, its zig-zag movements and contrasting silver and emerald, evokes within my plastic sensibility the distant vision of a dancer covered in sparkling sequins in her world of light, noise, and sound. Therefore mare = ballerina.”iv Crucially, Mare = Ballerina does not depict the sea or a dancer in representational terms; rather, it captures the energy of the dynamic movement that unites both phenomena in Severini’s mind, his “plastic sensibility.” Mare = ballerina is the gesture of emotional and kinetic correspondence between the two. 

    “The artistic ensemble mare = ballerina should preferably have luminous irradiations (forms and color-light) moving from the center towards space (centrifugal).”
    —Gino Severini, “The Plastic Analogies of Dynamism,” 1913
    Severini’s manifesto then lists the core aesthetic tenants of Futurism, all of which are present in Mare = Ballerina. The composition is “vertically rectangular,” dynamic, and “open in all directions towards space,” as Severini wrote.v There is simultaneous contrast of line, planes, and volumes, and “constructive interpenetration” of forms in “spherical expansion,” as seen in the angular black, red, and green prisms and arrows that cut through the expanding circles of yellow and Each shape consists of pure, unmixed color, with prismatic radiance that encompasses the spectrum of visible light. Mare = Ballerina makes use of its neutral support, as well as strategic placement of black and white marks, “to obtain the greatest intensity from the colors.”vii Taken together, the work is an encyclopedic exemplar of Severini’s Futurist techniques.


    Gino Severini, Sea = Dancer, 1914. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Image: © Stefano Baldini / Bridgeman Images, Artwork: © 2023 Gino Severini / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris 

    Mare = Ballerina is inscribed by the artist at lower left to his friend, Jean Carrère, whom he had known since 1911. Together, they had been foreign correspondents in Libya, reporting on the conflict between Italy and the Ottoman Empire. Inscribed “in friendly memory” in Rome, and dated September, 1914, Severini remembers the pair’s past, and looks forward to the future of their friendship.



    i Gino Severini, “The Plastic Analogies of Dynamism— A Futurist Manifesto, 1913,” in Umbro Apollonio, ed., The Documents of 20th-Century Art: Futurist Manifestos, The Viking Press, New York, 1970, pp. 118-125.

    ii  Ibid.

    iii  Note that in logical exercises, the equals sign is used to denote analogous relationships; just as in a literary analogy, a is b, so a = b in logic.

    iv  Severini, p. 123.

    v Ibid.

    vi Ibid

    vii  Ibid., p. 124.

    • Description

      Please see main sale page for guarantee notice

    • Provenance

      Jean Carrère, Paris (gifted by the artist in September 1914)
      Galerie Cazeau-Béraudiere, Paris
      Private Collection, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2009

    • Exhibited

      Rome, Galleria Futurista, Esposizione di pittura futurista: Boccioni, Carrà, Russolo, Balla, Severini, Soffici, Februrary–March 1914, no. 17
      San Francisco, The Palace of Fine Arts, Panama-Pacific International Exposition, 1915, no. 1166, p. 274
      Vienna, Kunstforum, Futurismus. Radikale Avantgarde, March 7–June 29, 2003, no. 111, pl. 25, pp. 139, 280 (illustrated, p. 139)
      Paris, Musée national de l'Orangerie; Rovereto, Museo di arte moderna e contemporanea, Gino Severini 1883-1966. Futuriste et néoclassique, April 27, 2011–January 8, 2012, no. 32, pp. 141, 225 (illustrated)
      New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Inventing Abstraction 1910-1925: How a Radical Idea Changed Modern Art, December 23, 2012–April 15, 2013, no. 101, pp. 129, 373 (illustrated, p. 129)

    • Literature

      Gino Severini, Témoignages: 50 ans de réflexion, Rome, 1963, p. 52
      Giovanni Lista, Futurismo. La rivolta dell'avanguardia- Die revolte der avantgarde, Cinisello Balsamo, 2008, no. 79, p. 434-435 (illustrated, p. 434)
      Avant-gardes 1870 to the present: The Collection of the Triton Foundation, exh. cat., Kunsthal Rotterdam, Brussels, 2012, pp. 290-291, 563 (illustrated, p. 291)



Mare = Ballerina

signed and dated "G. Severini 1913" lower right; signed, inscribed and dedicated "à Jean Carrère en souvenir amical Rome - septembre 1914 Gino Severini" lower center; signed, titled and inscribed "17 mare = ballerina (studio) Gino Severini" on the reverse
chalk, tempera and pastel on board
25 1/4 x 18 1/4 in. (64.1 x 46.4 cm)
Executed in 1913-1914.

This work will be included in the additional volume to the Catalogo Ragionato dell'Opera pittorica di Gino Severini, currently being prepared by Daniela Fonti and Romana Severini Brunori.

Full Cataloguing

$80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for $444,500

Contact Specialist

Carolyn Kolberg
Associate Specialist, Head of Sale
+1 212 940 1206

Living the Avant-Garde: The Triton Collection Foundation, Evening Sale Part I

New York Auction 14 November 2023