These pieces have been chosen from this year’s Frieze Masters for their seminal value. They are all powerfully evocative of their time and place. Amanda Malpass
Egyptian wooden barque (Middle Kingdom 2010‐1630 BC)
During the Middle Kingdom, skilfully carved polychrome models of boats, complete with oarsmen, became an essential part of funerary equipment to serve the deceased on his perilous afterlife journey to the chthonic kingdom of Osiris. The god’s domain, an agricultural idyll of well‐irrigated land, orchards and gardens, contained all the delights and none of the inconveniences of life along the Nile.
I shall eat in it and I shall wander in it,
I shall plough in it and I shall reap it,
I shall have sex in it and I shall be content in it
(Coffin Text 452 B.C.)
Attic Red‐Figure Column Krater mid-5th century BC
By the middle of the fifth century BC, Athens entered a time of peace and prosperity. Work on the Parthenon began, including the equestrian figures of the frieze. An exciting development in the decoration of pots, known as the red‐figure technique, was achieved by painting the background dark and leaving the figures reserved in the red colour. This had the effect of enhancing dramatically the spatial mass. The internal depictions of the boys and their mounts are painted with a brush rather than incised, producing greater freedom of line, confident yet restrained, the hallmark of the high classical period.
The artist Jawlensky is said to have seen Matisse through Russian eyes. While greatly influenced by the simple outlines and non‐naturalistic colours of les Fauves, his Russian mysticism and the strong traditions of the icon and peasant art produced a strikingly individual vision, entirely his own. Like Kandinsky, he explored the correlation of colours and musical sounds, but his art remained centred on natural forms. His most characteristic work consisted of a series of portrait heads; a theme to which he repeatedly returned. In this version, the features of the face and hair are beautifully expressed in simple planes, curves and lines of lyrical colour to great effect.
Henry Moore (1898‐1986) Shelterers c. 1940‐1941
Early on in Moore’s career, rejecting the Renaissance ideal, he turned instead to ancient primitive sculpture which he studied in the British Museum and the frescos of Giotto and Masaccio. During the Second World War, Moore was commissioned to record Londoners sheltering underground, documenting the Blitz. His response, which was intensely felt and visceral, resulted in some of the greatest portrayals of humanity in extremis. He developed a graphic style of ‘scribbles and scratches’ perfectly suited to the atmosphere of the underground. By pouring ink and gouache over resistant wax, he created a heavily‐textured roughness that lend his figures a sculptural quality. This family group transcends its claustrophobic confined surroundings and emerges unromanticised ‐ totemic but watchful.
Maurice Estêve (1904‐2001) L’ancien 1951
During the occupation of France in the Second World War, French avant‐garde art was frozen by the menace of the Nazi occupation. Estêve, along with Bazaine and Manessier, had to wait until the liberation before experimenting freely once again. In the post war period, France continued to be at the forefront of abstract art. Estêve’s luminous paintings, with colours set free from the constraints of figuration, are poetic works of architectonic beauty. His great staves, that cross and echo one another in aerial space, contain subtle modulations that are musical in conception. His work is quintessentially French, rigorously constructed but warm and sensuous with an inner emotion.