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Duchamp's Funeral I
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About the item

Im not a history painter, but I am fascinated by what happened in the Twentieth Century and how it continues to shape today. I dont feel any obligation to tell this to the world, but for me the Twentieth Century was a century of humiliation and through my painting, Im still trying to understand this. Adrian Ghenie cited in: Jane Neal, Referencing slapstick cinema, art history and the annals of totalitarianism, Adrian Ghenies paintings find a way of confronting a century of humiliation, Art Review, December 2010, online\nAdrian Ghenies Duchamps Funeral I (2009) is an extraordinary painting that contends with one of the artists most significant thematic engagements: the vast influence of Marcel Duchamp and Dadaism on the canon of art history. Embodying a deeply existential fascination, allusions to the father of post-modernism saturate Ghenies oeuvre, appearing in such works as the immersive installation The Dada Room (2010) and Dada is Dead (2009), as well as in a painting of Duchamp's notorious 1917 Fountain. Standing at the very apex of this concern, the present work is the unmitigated masterpiece from Ghenies Duchamp cycle, and can perhaps be considered as one of the artists most profound works to date. Significantly, Duchamps Funeral I marks one of only two paintings in which Ghenie depicts the great twentieth-century masters likeness; in other works from this cycle, Duchamp exists as a kind of absent presence, in which the weight of his influence is felt yet never palpably seen. Indeed, where Duchamp announced the death of painting, in the present work, Ghenie provocatively paints Duchamps death: his potent work seems to declare a rebirth of the genre of oil painting in the modern age. Ghenie is one of the most influential painters of the present day, and his work will be exhibited in two major institutional shows planned this year.\nIn Ghenies breakthrough work The Dada Room, the artist created an almost-life sized replica of the First International Dada Fair which took place in Berlin in 1920. Replete with symbolically laden imagery, including a German officer with the head of a pig hanging from the ceiling, in The Dada Room Ghenie subverted Dadas anti-art ideologies by slathering viscous layers of paint in an overwhelmingly tactile manner over the walls and floors; the result is a three-dimensional reincarnation of the famous room viewed through a defiantly painterly lens. Similarly, in Untitled 209 Duchamp, which depicts the most iconic and controversial artwork of the Twentieth Century Duchamps urinal Ghenie meticulously bathed an image of the infamous art-object with great swathes of sticky, gelatinous oil paint. A sterile artistic statement, thus, once again becomes a luxuriously painterly scene. Finding its place within the trajectory of art history, Duchamps Funeral I creates a compelling dialogue between paintings which have similarly explored the phenomenon of human mortality in such a tangible, concrete way, from Gustave Courbets A Burial At Ornans (1949-50) to Gerhard Richters powerful painting Dead (1988), based on press clippings from the Baader-Meinhof controversy.\nGhenie succinctly sums up the importance of Dada in Duchamps Funeral I: The state of painting today prompted me to choose this subject. The ongoing debate about the death of painting may be intellectually stimulating, but I think it is also anachronistic. There is enough evidence to conclude that painting is not dead. And yet, I wanted to return to the historic context in which this problem was first articulated. I view key moments and personalities of the avant-gardes like Duchamp from a great distance and from a reversed perspective. Although I recognise the liberating effects produced by the outburst of the avant-garde movements (of which I am also a beneficiary), I cant help but notice the extent to which some of their ideas exposed in time to manifold appropriations have imposed themselves with such forcefulness as to become canonical. I simply want to question this state of affairs without making accusations. But I feel I have the right to see idols like Duchamp or Dada in a different light (Adrian Ghenie in conversation with Magda Radu in: Flash Art, No. 269, November-December 2009, online). As such, Duchamps Funeral I boldly presents, in the ultimate conclusion of Ghenies conceptual and material investigations, a triumphant declaration of paintings unshakable longevity.\nIn the present painting, coarse painterly brush strokes fuse with crisp ridges from the artists palette knife, as emotive drips and insolent smatterings coalesce to form the crepuscular, imagined scene of Marcel Duchamps funeral. The patriarch of Dada lies in an embalmed state like Lenin in Red Square or Hans Holbeins supine Christ in The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb (1520-22). Ethereal swathes of titanium whites, shadowy greys and hints of purple denote his deceased state whilst a ghostly reflection of his body enhances the paintings atmosphere of disquiet. Here figurative imagery is quite literally buried within drizzled and poured slathers of paint, and scraped and worn surfaces. Abounding with emblematic imagery, Ghenie's iconic studio chair appears in the bottom right hand corner and his grandmothers Turkish rug is luxuriously draped over the casket: trademarks of his aesthetic style, they have come to personify the artists presence within his oeuvre. In this work, however, Ghenie has literally inserted himself within the composition: he stands behind Duchamps casket, his face ambiguously obscured behind an outmoded film reel camera on a tripod: it faces out towards the viewer, positioning us as the subject of his mysterious film. In spite of modern fears of painterly redundancy in the photographic age, the present work seems to declare that the genre of painting resolutely lives on. Heavy with emotional force and richly encoded with the artists own mythology, Duchamps Funeral I is a work at pains to emphasise its painterly origins. In Ghenies idiosyncratic manner, the man who inhabits the coffin, Duchamp, is the artist who emphatically declared the death of painting. Meditating on the passing of ideologies and artistic revenge, Ghenie exhumes the deceased Duchamp to re-bury both him and his principles.\nSigned and dated 2009 on the reverse
GB
GB
GB

medium

Oil on canvas

creator

Ghenie, Adrian

condition

Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate, although the composition is slightly brighter and more vibrant, and the areas of grey are slightly warmer, in the original. The illustration fails to fully convey the nuances of colour and the texture of the painted surface. Condition: Please refer to the department for a professional condition report. "In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."

dimensions

200 by 300 cm. 78 7/8 by 118 1/8 in.

exhibition

London, Haunch of Venison, Darkness for an Hour, May - July 2009 Ghent, Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Adrian Ghenie, December 2010 - March 2011 Budapest, Mücsarnok Kunsthalle Budapest, European Travellers – Art from Cluj Today, April - July 2012, pp. 110-11, illustrated in colour Ishoj, ARKEN Museum of Modern Art, Hotspot Cluj – New Romanian Art, May - November 2013, pp. 18-19, illustrated in colour

literature

Juerg Judin, Ed., Adrian Ghenie, Ostfildern 2009, p. 107, illustrated in colour

provenance

Haunch of Venison, London Private Collection, Europe (acquired from the above in 2009) Sotheby's, London, 17 October 2014, Lot 8 (consigned by the above) Acquired from the above sale by the present owner 

signedDate

Signed and dated 2009 on the reverse

artist_range_end

1977

artist_range_start

1977

creator_nationality_dates

B. 1977


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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