Léopold Survage Colored Rhythm: Study for the Film 1913

  • Not on view

Like many of his contemporaries, Leopold Survage, a Russian artist working in avant-garde circles in Paris, understood abstraction as a challenge to the static character of traditional art. “An immobile abstract form does not do much of anything,” he declared in the poet and critic Guillaume Apollinaire’s journal Les Soirees de Paris. To combat this deadly fixity and to work in what he called the “mode of succession over time,” Survage prepared sheet after sheet of abstract watercolors. His first goal in these works was to “animate” his painting, his second to create an abstract color film. At the time, such a project was on the edge of technological possibility, and the film was never realized. Even so, the serial structures of Survage’s watercolors, with each image imagined as one frame in a continuous animation, introduce the dimension of time and rhythm to their colored forms.

Gallery label from Inventing Abstraction, 1910–1925, December 23, 2012–April 15, 2013.
Watercolor and ink on paper on black paper-faced board
13 x 12 1/16" (33 x 30.7 cm)
Object number
© 2024 Léopold Survage / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Drawings and Prints

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA’s collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

MoMA licenses archival audio and select out of copyright film clips from our film collection. At this time, MoMA produced video cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. All requests to license archival audio or out of copyright film clips should be addressed to Scala Archives at [email protected]. Motion picture film stills cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For access to motion picture film stills for research purposes, please contact the Film Study Center at [email protected]. For more information about film loans and our Circulating Film and Video Library, please visit https://www.moma.org/research/circulating-film.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication, please email [email protected]. If you would like to publish text from MoMA’s archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to [email protected].


This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to [email protected].