Ilya Chashnik - Editions & Works on Paper New York Tuesday, April 18, 2023 | Phillips
  •  “I think a good dealer is also a collector.”
    —Rosa Esman

    Rosa and Aaron Esman assembled an outstanding collection of Modern, Post-War, and Contemporary art over the course of their seventy-year marriage. The collection’s highlights mirror that of Rosa’s career as a gallerist and print publisher (which Aaron, a psychoanalyst, strongly supported), with interests in Modernism, Dada, Russian Constructivism, and American Pop Art taking center stage. Rosa got her start publishing artists’ print portfolios in the 1960s, including the New York Ten Portfolio, 1965, and Ten for Leo Castelli, 1967, which featured works by rising contemporary artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Robert Rauschenberg, and helped pioneer the field of artist’s editions and multiples. Her eponymous gallery exhibited in Manhattan for over twenty years, and she was a founding partner of Ubu Gallery, which is still in operation today.


    When asked about her wide artistic tastes in 2009, Rosa emphasized her love of drawing, “the quintessential bit of the art,” which can be seen across the collection, regardless of genre.


    The pair bonded over gallery visits when dating in the early 1950s. While Aaron already had begun collecting by then, the first work they purchased together was a drawing by Miró, early in their marriage. Rosa recalled: ‘sometimes we look at something, and I say, “Oh, isn’t that marvelous?”’ and Aaron would respond, ‘It’s for us.’


    Founded on lifelong love, the Collection of Rosa and Aaron Esman gives a unique vision of the art movements of the 20th century that shaped New York’s art scene.


    Rosa and Aaron Esman, Madrid, 1963


    • Provenance

      Ilya Ilich Chashnik (son of the artist), Leningrad
      Lev Nussberg, Connecticut
      Rosa and Aaron Esman, New York
      Thence by descent to the present owners

    • Exhibited

      Rosa Esman Gallery, Twentieth Anniversary Exhibition, February 15 - March 14, 1992, New York.

    • Catalogue Essay

      Despite his early death, the Russian artist Ilya Chashnik was one of the foremost disciples of Kazimir Malevich and espoused the Suprematist principles advocated by the latter. He was born into a humble Jewish family in Latvia and spent his childhood in Vitebsk, where he was introduced to the world of painting by a local artist.

      Chashnik moved to Moscow in 1919 to further his artistic training at the Higher State Art-Technical-Studios (Vkhutemas) in Moscow, but his attraction for the work of Marc Chagall spurred him to return to Vitebsk after a few months to attend the art school he directed. However, after he met Malevich, who taught at the same school, his art underwent a radical change of direction and he became one of the most talented and faithful followers of his Suprematist master. During the winter of 1919–20, Malevich and a group of students formed the group known as Unovis (Affirmers of the New Art). Among those involved in the initiative were Ilya Chashnik and Nikolai Suetin, who became close friends and went on to collaborate in various projects. Chashnik developed his own style within the Suprematist idiom, evolving from Malevich’s white compositions to paintings in which black was the predominant element. In these works geometric shapes form crossing planes with a tendency towards rhythm and symmetry.

      After graduating in Vitebsk in 1922, he moved to Petrograd (now Saint Petersburg), where Malevich and other artists belonging to Unovis were already living. During this period Chashnik concentrated on exploring the possible applications of Suprematism in daily life: he designed textiles, posters and buildings and worked with Suetin in the Lomonossov factory. He began to collaborate with the Institute of Artistic Culture (Inkhuk) in 1923 and from 1925 with the Institute of Decorative Arts. - Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum

Property from the Collection of Rosa and Aaron Esman


Suprematist Composition (Red Square)

Gouache in red and black with graphite drawing, on wove paper.
7 3/8 x 5 3/4 in. (18.7 x 14.6 cm)
Accompanied by a signed photo-certificate by Lev Nussberg, framed.

Full Cataloguing

$4,000 - 6,000 

Sold for $12,446

Contact Specialist
212 940 1220


Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 18 - 20 April 2023