Olga Sacharoff

Tbilisi, Rússia 1889 - Barcelona 1967

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Olga Sacharoff was born in Tbilisi, which at that time belonged to the Russian Empire, into a wealthy family. She studied Fine Arts in her hometown and in 1910 she settled in Munich, where she also studied Fine Arts. There she got familiarized with German expressionism, fundamental in her artistic career. In 1912 she moved to prewar Paris, and settled in the Montparnasse neighborhood. In the French capital, she painted at the Académie Vassilieff, directed by the Russian painter Marie Vassilieff, in whose workshop she came into contact with cubism and began to develop it in her paintings. Very little of the artist's work prior to 1916 is preserved, works on canvas and paper that correspond to the first and second decades of the 20th century and that are part of the cubist speculations that she developed during her Parisian period. Still lifes and portraits in which she sometimes used collage demonstrate a first-hand knowledge of the cubism that Picasso and Braque (regulars of the Académie Russe canteen) had just formulated. During the World War I, many artists based in Paris had to leave the city to get away from the conflict. In the summer of 1915, Sacharoff and Lloyd moved first to Mallorca, then to Ceret —where they were welcomed by the sculptor Manolo Hugué and his wife, Tototte— to finally end up in Barcelona in 1916. From then on, the couple settled in Albigesos street in Barcelona, alternating their stays in the ‘Comital City’ with long periods in Tossa de Mar, a place that they fell in love with and where they found an ideal landscape to get inspired and work on their respective art. At the end of the Great War they returned to Paris, although they continued to spend the summers in Tossa de Mar until the Civil War broke out. Later, fleeing from the Second World War, Sacharoff and Lloyd returned to Barcelona, where they settled permanently in a large mansion in the Putxet neighborhood. The Russian artist exhibited for the first time in Barcelona at the Galeries Laietanes, in a group show held in 1922. In 1929 she had her first individual exhibition at the Claridge Gallery in New York and, a year later, she exhibited at the Bernheim-Jeune gallery from Paris. Olga Sacharoff's painting evolved from cubism to a very personal primitivism with which she articulated her own iconographic world and was critical of the morality established at the time, especially with regard to the position of women in marriage. She was an undervalued and partially forgotten artist, although in the 21st century her memory and legacy is being revindicated as belonging to one of the great representatives of the European avant-garde. Her roots in Catalonia, which were important for her personal life and her work, are indisputable and explain very well why she is so well known and appreciated in Catalan lands.