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World record price for a ruby

Superb and extremely rare ruby and diamond ring Set with a cushion-shaped ruby weighing 25.59 carats, between shield-shaped diamonds weighing 2.47 and 2.70 carats, signed Cartier, numbered, French assay and maker's marks, size 54, case signed Cartier.  "The described ruby exhibits a very impressive size and weight of 25.596 ct, combined with a highly attractive colour and a fine purity. Its colour is further pronounced by its well-proportioned cutting style, resulting in vivid red hues due to multiple internal reflections. Due to complex geological formation processes rubies of such quality generally are found in small crystals and only very exceptionally in such a size as the present stone. [...]Its vivid but saturated colour, poetically referred to as pigeon blood red, is due to a combination of well-balanced trace elements in the stone, typical and characteristic for the finest rubies of Mogok. [...]Based on our records we can conclude that a natural ruby from Burma of this size and colour is extremely rare. Thus, the described gemstone with its combination of outstanding characteristics can be considered a unique treasure of nature." Excerpts from the SSEF appendix letter, 4 February 2015"The 25.59 ct ruby described in the above mentioned Gübelin Gem Lab Report possesses a combination of outstanding characteristics. It displays a homogeneous and richly saturated 'pigeon blood red' colour, which typifies the finest of these gems. The depth of colour, combined with a high clarity and brilliance, all contribute to the beauty of the gem. The shape and finely proportioned cut provides vivid internal colour reflections. In addition, this remarkable gemstone has been spared thermal treatment." Excerpt from Gübelin appendix letter, 11 February 2015

  • CHESwitzerland
  • 2015-05-12
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Blau

"I want to end up with a picture that I haven't planned. This method of arbitrary choice, chance, inspiration and destruction may produce a specific type of picture, but it never produces a predetermined picture... I just want to get something more interesting out of it than those things I can think out for myself." The artist interviewed in 1990, in Hubertus Butin and Stefan Gronert, eds., Gerhard Richter. Editions 1965-2004: Catalogue Raisonné, Ostfildern-Ruit, 2004, p. 36 "The character of the Abstract Paintings is not their resolution but the dispersal of their elements, their coexisting contradictory expressions and moods, their opposition of promises and denials. They are complex visual events, suspended in interrogation, and fictive models for that reality which escapes direct address, eludes description and conceptualization, but resides inarticulate in our experience." Roald Nasgaard in Exh. Cat., Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Gerhard Richter: Paintings, 1988, p. 110 Ultimately engaging, breathtakingly beautiful, intensely dramatic, inspirational and inexplicable, Gerhard Richter’s Blau is as close a manifestation of the sublime as has been achieved in the art of painting. Here we are presented with, confronted by and engulfed within a square arena that exceeds nine feet in both height and width. This vast expanse is utterly replete with the most spectacular color, form and texture; a sheer cliff face of unadulterated expression as delivered by the world’s greatest living painter. Within the field of this canvas, acts of unfathomable chaos have touched something not quite of this realm, creating, in short, something that is phenomenal. Gerhard Richter’s unprecedented art of abstraction stands as ultimate culmination to the epic journey of his career, during which he has ceaselessly interrogated the limits of representation, the nature of perception and the operations of visual cognition. Variously evoking something of Rothko’s exuberance of transformative color, Pollock’s instigation of autonomous composition, and de Kooning’s transferal of the figural to the abstract, Richter’s abstraction is ultimately without comparison. That Blau is a definitive Abstraktes Bild masterpiece by Richter is incontrovertible: in palette, technique and gesture, this monumental triumph epitomizes the full force of his art. Some indication of its seminal preeminence is given by the fact that every abstract painting of equal or greater scale that Richter has made since Blau resides today in a museum. As one of the foremost masters of the past century, it is difficult to conceive of another artist as celebrated as Gerhard Richter. His prodigious artistic output has earned unparalleled international acclaim, and over the course of a fifty-year career his work has been honored with numerous retrospectives by the most prestigious institutions. In the past five years alone there have been seventy-six major solo exhibitions of Richter’s work held in over twenty countries around the world, from the United States to Japan, Brazil to Switzerland, and Mexico to South Korea. In recent years these have famously included shows at the Museum of Modern Art, Tate Modern, the National Portrait Gallery, the Musée du Louvre and Centre Georges Pompidou in addition to many others. Each tesserae of Blau’s immense architecture contributes to its astounding character. The composition spans the entire color spectrum and traverses the full tonal scale, from deepest blacks to brightest whites. Dominated by the primaries of red, yellow and, of course, blue, it also encompasses every fractional permutation of hue in between. Streaked and smeared passages of once-semi-liquid material have been fixed on the surface; the shadows of their former malleability caught in a perpetually-dynamic stasis. Staccato ridges, crests and peaks of impasto punctuate this underlying fluidity in variously pronounced chromatic contrast, creating a powerful sensation of depth. The interchangeability of light and dark hues in front and behind, respectively in unified smeared swathes and broken thick accretions, such as deepest dark crimson on brilliant bright cyan in the top left versus vivid cadmium yellow on opaque rich umber in the bottom left, radically destabilizes this sense of depth. At the same time, this extreme textural topography creates an actual dynamism as the nature of the object subject to our vision constantly transforms with our shifting perspective and the ever-changing play of light across it. What is near and what is far becomes indefinite and our eye is forced to constantly readjust to attempt to comprehend the pure assault of pictorial data. Additional scrapes, smudges and incisions in all directions carry us forward and back, beyond even the furthermost reaches of color and pigment in a way reminiscent of Fontana’s slashes and scything deconstruction of the picture plane into the infinity of space beyond. The sum of Richter’s tireless process of addition and subtraction becomes a record of time itself within the paint strata: the innumerable layers of application and eradication have left their traces behind to accumulate and forge a portrait of temporal genesis. Richter’s creation of Blau necessitated a conscious suspension of the artist’s artistic will and assertion of judgment. Over a protracted period of execution, the painting underwent multiple variations in which each new sweeping accretion of paint brought new color and textural juxtaposition that were reworked until the optimum threshold of harmonious articulation was reached. Within this process, grounds of arresting pigment were applied only to be effaced and drawn out by large track-like strokes. Although spontaneous in their lyrical grandeur, these overlaid marks were in fact cerebrally labored. Yet Richter holds no presuppositions in the devising of his abstract paintings: in his own words it is by “letting a thing come, rather than creating it – no assertions, constructions, formulations, inventions, ideologies” that Richter looks “to gain access to all that is genuine, richer, more alive: to what is beyond my understanding.” (Gerhard Richter, ‘Notes 1985’ in Hans-Ulrich Obrist ed., Gerhard Richter: The Daily Practice of Painting, Writings 1962-1993, p. 119) Indeed, as formulated by Birgit Pelzer, Richter’s abstract works, as epitomized by Blau, prove that which cannot be articulated: “Richter’s painting explores the enigmatic juncture of sense and non-sense. His paintings encircle, enclose the real as that which it is impossible to say: the unrepresentable.” (Birgit Pelzer, "The Tragic Desire" in Benjamin D. Buchloh, ed., Gerhard Richter: October Files, Massachusetts, 2009, p. 118) Benjamin Buchloh has identified a perennial relationship between absence and content in Richter’s abstract paintings, so that any evocation of nothingness or the void is immediately counteracted by unrelenting complexity and turbulence: "the ability of colour to generate this emotional, spiritual quality is presented and at the same time negated at all points, surely it's always cancelling itself out. With so many combinations, so many permutational relationships there can't be any harmonious chromatic order, or composition either, because there are no ordered relations left either in the colour system or the spatial system." (Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Ibid., pp. 23-24) Within its sheer excess of layering and dynamic compositional facture, Blau emits an extraordinary wealth of enigmatic yet recognizable evocation. The incessant erasure and denial of formal resolution induces a reading of phenomenal forms associated with those found in nature. Readily evoking natural experiences such as rain or water erosion, this work derives at least part of its effect from a spontaneous naturalism. Where Richter’s Photo Paintings fall away into abstraction, the Abstrakte Bilder by way of Blau return us, if only elusively, to a reading of figuration. By the early 1960s, long since the advent of Marcel Duchamp and Modernism’s declaration of painting’s demise, Richter took up the continuing debate head on, foregrounding the apparent obsolescence of painting into an inquiry that would revolutionize and reenergize its problematic practice. In the context of and as a reaction to photography, Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism and Pop Art, Richter’s Photo Paintings – the body of work that was to launch him to critical acclaim – instigated a groundbreaking re-examination of painting in the face of technological means of mass production and the glorified pseudo-religiosity of abstract art. By translating artless black and white amateur photographs with indifferent photo-realist veracity onto canvas, Richter looked to the possibility for collusion between the oppositional binary of abstraction and resemblance, in search of a means for painting to objectively say something more than either could individually offer. Immaculately blurred while the paint remains wet, the Photo Paintings rendered explicit a simultaneous interpenetration of and tension between the three-dimensional space captured by the photograph and the flat pictorial space of painting. With these works, Richter bridged the gap between abstract painting and photographic figuration; a turn that at once, via an investigation of photography’s margins, undoes and affirms photography whilst legitimizing painting despite of this. Herein, these works laid the formative ground that would further engender Richter’s systematic negation of painting as the means by which he affirmed its currency. Towards the end of the 1960s, with the Color Charts and Grey Paintings – Richter’s most pronounced concession to ‘anti-painting’ and Minimalism – the serial and systematic erasure of gesture, artistic agency and privileging of chance compositional structures gave rise to Richter’s movement into pure abstraction from 1972 onwards. While the first of these took the form of abstract paintings based on photographic details of paint strokes, by the early 1990s Richter’s mastery of the squeegee technique to facilitate a quasi-mechanical palimpsest of layered and scraped down color, promulgated the possibility of exquisite lyrical painting within distinctly photographic terms. As made explicit by Kaja Silverman, Richter has made claims to paint “like a camera” even when photographic content is absent from his work (the artist cited in Kaja Silverman, Flesh of My Flesh, California, 2009, p. 173). In 1972 Richter explained, “I’m not trying to imitate a photograph… I’m trying to make one. And if I disregard the assumption that a photograph is a piece of paper exposed to light, then I am practicing photography by other means… [T]hose of my paintings that have no photographic source (the abstracts, etc.) are also photographs.” (Ibid.) In making this analogy with the camera, Richter embraces the fact that perception and the way we view the world today is entirely mediated by the photograph and its technological proliferation. Thus, as outlined by Richter, where the camera “does not apprehend objects, it sees them,” the Abstrakte Bilder elicit the capacity of painting to propagate a true semblance of perception and appearance. To quote Hal Foster, “The semblance that concerns Richter is of a “second nature”… a culture-become-nature bathed in the glow of the media, a semblance permeated with photographic, televisual, and now digital visulalities.” (Hal Foster, "Semblance According to Gerhard Richter," in Benjamin D. Buchloh, ed., Op. cit., p. 126) Redolent across the endless exposures and variegation of the present work, the presence of crackling, distortive fuzz and slick gelatinous layers of color as glaring artificial light, Richter's pure non-referential abstraction unmistakably bears the mark of photography. Idiosyncratically compatible with the detached, disenchanted mechanical age of contemporary visual culture, Gerhard Richter’s Blau represents an all-enveloping evocation of a distinctly post-modern semblance. The simultaneous negation and affirmation of contingency, expressivity, detachment and transcendence comprises an encompassing host of contradictions that posit this painting as a masterpiece of calculated chaos and paradigm of Gerhard Richter’s mature artistic and philosophical achievement. Signed and dated 1988, and numbered 658 twice on the reverse

  • USAUSA
  • 2014-05-13
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Landhaus am attersee

Painted circa 1914, this vibrant landscape is one of Klimt’s late masterpieces, evoking his enduring fascination with the Attersee in the heart of Austria’s Salzkammergut region.  From 1908 to 1912 Klimt and his muse Emilie Flöge with her family spent the summer months in Villa Oleander in Kammerl near Kammer am Attersee. In 1913, however, they stayed on Lake Garda, because the house was rented to other guests. Since it was not available the following year Klimt decided to spend the summer months in Weissenbach on the south shore of Attersee where a relative of the Flöge sisters lived. The Flöge sisters, their mother Barbara, and the young Helen Klimt moved into the house next door to their relative, but Klimt found lodgings in the forester’s house on the outskirts at the entrance to the Weissenbach valley. The forester’s house where Klimt stayed was chosen twice as the subject of a painting, once for Forsthaus in Weissenbach am Attersee, 1914 (Neue Galerie, New York) and once for the present work. Klimt builds up his vision of the house and its gardens through a bold mosaic of tessellated colors, interspersed with highlights of reds and orange-yellows. The effect is one of a flattening-out of the landscape, creating a richly textured surface that nevertheless retains great depth in its subtle and delicate modulation of color. In this surface patterning, Klimt’s Landhaus am Attersee is perhaps inspired by the folk tapestry and stained glass window techniques in which German and Austrian artists took a keen interest in the first decades of the twentieth century. In his discussion of the stylistic influences on Klimt Stephan Koja refers to the probable influence of the strongly graphic style of Egon Schiele on Forsthaus in Weissenbach am Attersee and observes: "In his painting Villa on the Attersee, Klimt again resorts to this drawing technique by outlining the objects in black, and in the precise way he depicts the structure of the objects, such as the shingles on the roof or the flowers on the shrubs. This carpet-like structure, which uniformly covers the surface of the painting with colored speckles, makes the objects appear incorporeal. However, the various green, yellow, and red tones provide coloristic unanimity, and the evenness of the colored texture gives an impression of complete harmony. At the edges of the picture, two dark bushes, truncated by the borders, provide an effective support for the composition. The tranquil separation, in horizontal zones, is related to the backgrounds of the portraits such as Adele Bloch-Bauer 11 or Mäda Primavesi and shows how Klimt was able to use one creative approach in various genres" (Stephan Koja, ed., Gustav Klimt: Landscapes, Munich, Berlin, London, New York, 2002, p.126). Among Klimt’s mature landscapes, the views of the Attersee are perhaps some of his most assured and compelling. In the present work, the sumptuous palette and the jewel-like surface reflect an opulent mood, reminiscent of the decorative tendency displayed in earlier landscapes such as Field of Poppies from 1907 (see fig. 2). However, in that work the horizon anchors the perspective with a narrow band of sky framing the upper edge of the composition, while in Landhaus am Attersee the scene rises like a vertical wall of natural splendor and artifact. Klimt’s landscapes occupy a unique place within his oeuvre and are among his most significant accomplishments. In all, they account for approximately one-quarter of his painted work. In contrast to his more meticulously planned figure compositions, for which he generally executed large groups of initial pencil studies, there are scarcely any preparatory studies for the landscapes. As such they bear witness to Klimt’s most direct response to the natural world, and are his most private and intimate works in oil. He sought to capture the purity of the natural world and its splendors of color, heightened by the richness and texture of the surface. Indeed, some of the more contemplative landscapes, such as the present work, evoke moods that question the very nature of visual perception. Alessandra Comini writes of Klimt’s enduring delight in nature: ‘For Klimt the plenitude of nature offered a cyclic variety of stimuli and sensations. Like a honey-bee, the Austrian artist collected and stored in multifaceted display a precious hoard of sense impressions… Schnitzler had stated that the natural state is chaos. Freud explored the symbolism of dreams and suggested a rational explanation for the irrational. Klimt faced the plurality of those ‘other appearances’ and sought to paint the manifest-to-him content of a latent world force. Seizing upon the biological principle in nature, he studded his environments as he had his portraits with overlapping symbols of fertility and growth’ (A. Comini, op. cit., p. 27). Klimt’s characteristic use of the square-format canvas for his major landscapes imbues them with a strong sense of proportion and harmony, allowing them to attain the quality of an object of meditation as well as of a subjective view of nature. Discussing the artist’s development of this square format, Johannes Dobai writes: ‘Klimt had been using this shape of picture, suggesting as it does a sense of quiet, since 1898… preferring it for his figurative compositions and for his Symbolist paintings and portraits too. He did not, however, use it nearly as consistently in these works as he did in his landscapes, which, from then on, were invariably to be square in format. All his landscapes have something in common, which seems to be symbolised by their shape, regardless of any stylistic variation, all the landscapes are made fundamentally comprehensible as objects of meditation by means of this simple device’ (J. Dobai, op. cit., p. 11). In its richness of vision and expansiveness of form; in its mood of seductive repose and timeless tranquillity, despite the ineluctable advance of history beyond the harmony of the scene; and in its central importance as one of the artist’s most inspired views of the Attersee, Landhaus am Attersee is an undisputed masterpiece by Klimt. Comparables: Fig. 1, Gustav Klimt, Bauerngarten mit Sonnenblumen, circa 1905-06, oil on canvas, Österreichische Galerie, Vienna Fig. 2, Gustav Klimt, Mohnwiese, 1907, oil on canvas, Österreichische Galerie, Vienna Fig. 3, Gustav Klimt, Schloss Kammer am Attersee III, 1910, Österreichische Galerie, Vienna Fig. 4, Gustav Klimt, Unterach am Attersee, 1915, oil on canvas, Residenzgalerie, Salzburg Fig. 5, Gustav Klimt, Litzlbergkeller am Attersee, 1915-1916, oil on canvas, Private Collection, Vienna Fig. 6, Gustav Klimt, Häuser in Unterach am Attersee, circa 1916, oil on canvas, Österreichische Galerie, Vienna Signed GUSTAV KLIMT (lower left)

  • USAUSA
  • 2003-11-05
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1956 Ferrari 290 MM by Scaglietti

*Premium Lot – Bidding via Internet will not be available for this lot. Should you have any questions please contact Client Services. 320 bhp, 3,490 cc SOHC 60-degree Type 130 dry-sump V-12 engine with triple Weber twin-choke 46 DCF3 carburetors and twin spark-plug ignition with quad Magneti-Marelli distributors, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with helical springs and anti-roll bar, De Dion rear axle with transverse leaf spring, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 92.52 in. 1956 Mille Miglia, Juan Manuel Fangio, 4th-overall Extensive and documented racing history An irrefutable piece of automotive history Ferrari Classiche certified Ferrari’s sports-prototype racing cars are among the most legendary in motorsport history as they epitomize the desire, passion, and mechanical brilliance that the Maranello team could bring to bear on the track. Most significantly, each and every design had Enzo’s personal handprint upon them. However, some cars are more special than others, and it is the Works cars that are considered the “Holy Grail” of Ferrari motoring. These iconic cars were on the frontline, the weapons of choice—the sharpest in the armory. They would carry the hopes and prayers of not only the Factory but also of Italy itself and would only be driven by the finest in the world. The Works Ferrari Prototypes were campaigned in the World Sportscar Championship with enormous success, on the greatest, most challenging, and most important circuits that today still provide the foundation and heritage of motorsport as we know it. SCUDERIA FERRARI: CHASSIS NUMBER 0626 The 290 MM was built to contest the World Sportscar Championship, which was as important and carried as much weight to Ferrari as his efforts to win the Formula One World Championship. The WSC was inaugurated in 1953, and Ferrari was immediately successful with championship wins in 1953 and 1954. However, in 1955, the goalposts moved in staggering style as the Germanic efficiency of Mercedes-Benz dominated three of the six events, claiming the World Championship in the process. Then, just as Mercedes-Benz retired at the end of 1955, the old enemy Maserati entered a new machine in the form of the fabulous 300S. Ferrari recognized that it needed a new weapon if it was to reclaim its glory. For 1956, at the suggestion of a returning engineer, the legendary Vittorio Jano, Enzo took the decision to revert to his thunderous trademark V-12 engine after developing various four- and six-cylinder Mondials, Monzas, and 118/121 LMs. Jano and engineer Andrea Fraschetti created an all-new engine, although it followed the principles inaugurated by Aurelio Lampredi, with an integral block and cylinder heads with screwed-in wet liners. The new engine was shorter and wider than the previous Lampredi designs, with considerable effort being put into the combustion chamber design to improve inlet and exhaust valve function. Additionally, two spark plugs per cylinder were fitted, with the net result being a 40 brake horsepower increase over the similarly sized 860 Monza. Enzo convinced the best driver of the era, and, for most, arguably the greatest driver who ever lived, the soon to be five-time World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio, to lead the Works team in his latest and greatest creation. With that, so it was that Fangio and the 290 MM came together with the sole purpose of securing the 1956 World Sportscar Championship for the Maranello Scuderia. In today’s heavily regulated world of motorsport, it is wonderful to reflect on the fact that in the 1950s there were few rules to govern the Works teams in the design of their latest racecars. These wonderful machines were therefore developed to the absolute limit of what was achievable, with no rules governing cylinder capacity or weight. The only limiting factor was the bravery of the driver and his ability to read the road ahead on some of the most challenging events for both car and driver that have ever existed. One such event was the legendary Mille Miglia. XXIII MILLE MIGLIA The 1956 Mille Miglia was held on April 29th and was the third round of the World Sportscar Championship. For this event, Fangio was allocated chassis number 0626, a car that was specifically built with him, and the car offered here today. There were 426 cars entered for the event, of which 365 would start, but only 182 would be classified as finishers. Juan Manuel Fangio was race #600 and would start last, at exactly 06:00 am, driving solo, with no navigator to call the turns and hazards that led in front. The race was intense from the onset, with the weather immediately deteriorating to torrential rain throughout Italy. The closed cars had a distinct advantage, but the Ferraris were still supremely competitive and would take the top five places with Fangio bringing home 0626 in 4th place overall. A remarkable feat considering the conditions and that he was driving unaccompanied. Less than a month later, an incredible photo essay by LIFE magazine photographer Thomas McAvoy chronicled the Scuderia Ferrari’s trip from the 1956 BRDC International Trophy of Silverstone right up to its recent domination and victory at the XXIII Mille Miglia. Three cars from the Mille Miglia were featured heavily, but Enzo Ferrari chose to rest against one specific car for the photoshoot, and that car was 0626 (#600), as can be seen pictured here. The next outing for chassis number 0626 was at the 2nd International ADAC 1000 KM at the Nürburgring, held at the end of May, where it was driven by future American World Champion Phil Hill, Ken Wharton, Olivier Gendebien, and the Marquis Alfonso de Portago. This spectacular roster of drivers finished 3rd overall, but the season was not over, and there were yet more incredibly talented drivers to sit behind the wheel. In July, de Portago once again took the wheel and finished 9th overall at the 5th International Grand Prix of Rouen-Les Essarts in France. Wolfgang Alexander Albert Eduard Maxamilian Reichsgraf Berghe (Taffy) von Trips was to become one of Germany’s all-time great Grand Prix drivers, winning the Targa Florio and even challenging for the World Championship until his untimely death at the Italian GP in 1961. But, in 1956, he had yet to drive a Ferrari. That was until he convinced Enzo to allow him to get behind the wheel of chassis 0626 at the Swedish GP at Kristianstad, the final race of the World Championship. He was partnered with the dashing Peter Collins, and the pair did not fail to impress with a 2nd place finish, which helped Ferrari secure the 1956 World Sportscar Championship, exactly as Enzo had set out to do. Nonetheless, chassis number 0626 was not finished as part of the Scuderia’s Worlds Sportscar Championship efforts just yet, forming part of the team that contested the 1957 title. For the opening round of the season, the IV Mil Kilometros Ciudad de Buenos Aires, 0626 was entered in Works livery for the fast American Masten “Kansas City Flash” Gregory, who was partnered by two Ferrari Grand Prix drivers, Eugenio Castelloti and Luigi Musso. These three great drivers raced chassis number 0626 to a famous championship victory, and Ferrari’s 1957 sports-racing campaign was off to a glorious start. This tremendous form would continue throughout 1957, and Ferrari would go on to secure yet another championship. In spring 1957, chassis number 0626 was sold through Luigi Chinetti to Temple Buell in New York, who had the car repainted blue and white. Buell had many great Ferraris, such as a 750 Monza and 500 TR; most importantly, he was a personal friend of Enzo Ferrari. Under Buell’s ownership, this car continued to compete around the world, including a 2nd place finish in both the VI Portuguese Grand Prix and RACB Grand Prix of Spa-Francorchamps, as well as earning respectable finishes at the Nassau Tourist Trophy and the Cuban Grand Prix, when Juan Manuel Fangio was kidnapped prior to the start of the race by Fidel Castro’s movement. Throughout this season, the car was driven by Masten Gregory, Joakim Bonnier, Paul O’Shea, and Manfredo Lippman. In March 1958, Temple Buell returned the car to Luigi Chinetti Motors, who sold the car to J. Robert Williams of Miami, Florida. Chassis number 0626 then passed through the hands of enthusiastic American racer James Flynn and continued to be raced up until 1964, maintaining her almost unique record of never being crashed and as such maintaining her level of incredible originality. In 1968, repainted red, the 290 MM was sold to well-known collector Bob Dusek of Solebury, Pennsylvania. Mr. Dusek maintained chassis number 0626 for a couple of years, even using her regularly on the “school run!” The significance of 0626 can be gauged by the fact that in 1970 she was then purchased by the world-renowned collector Pierre Bardinon for his renowned Collection Mas du Clos in Aubusson, France. Chassis number 0626 was displayed alongside Bardinon’s extensive collection of Ferrari Le Mans winners at the 1987 Cartier Hommage à Ferrari exhibit held near Paris. Bardinon owned this magnificent car for 34 years before it passed to the present custodian, who is one of the world’s most renowned and discerning collectors of Ferrari and its history. For the past 12 years, chassis number 0626 has been regularly maintained, benefiting from a recent engine rebuild. The provision of a removable passenger screen has also allowed her to comfortably compete in the Mille Miglia Storica, and she has run at various historic events as well as been displayed at the Goodwood Revival Meeting and the remarkable inaugural Windsor Concours of Elegance. The owner has had the car Ferrari Classiche certified to further confirm its stunning originality. Works Ferrari sports-racing cars of the 1950s are rare in their own right, but one with such heritage and degree of originality is almost unheard of. In May 2016, Fangio’s epic drive in the Mille Miglia 60 years beforehand will be celebrated once again in Brescia. Chassis number 0626 surely stands to capture the hearts and admiration of all who appreciate this unique and original example of a Factory Prototype, created by the world’s greatest racecar manufacturer for the world’s greatest racing driver. Chassis no. 0626 Engine no. 0626 Gearbox no. 10 7 S

  • USAUSA
  • 2015-12-10
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Abstraktes Bild

“If you wish to advance into the infinite, explore the finite in all directions.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, epigram, David Luke, Goethe: Selected Verse, 1964 “In Richter’s work there is a demonstration of the ways in which painting’s resources are constantly replenished by the very problems it seems to pose, both for the painter and the viewer. Nobody in our own time has posed them better or solved them more inventively than Richter.” Glenn D. Lowry, Exh. Cat., New York, Museum of Modern Art, Gerhard Ricther: Forty Years of Painting, 2002, p. 7 "They are complex visual events, suspended in interrogation, and fictive models for that reality which escapes direct address, eludes description and conceptualization, but resides inarticulate in our experience." Roald Nasgaard, Exh. Cat., Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Gerhard Richter: Paintings, 1988, p. 110 The sweeping extent to which Gerhard Richter is responsible for maintaining the essential currency of painting during the course of recent Art History is today undeniable and inescapable. Undeniable because for more than five decades Richter has continually reinvented the terms by which painting has been relevant to a continually transforming audience: inescapable because there are exceptionally few artists working today whose reputation inspires anything close to comparable veneration. More than one million visitors attended the travelling retrospective exhibition Gerhard Richter: Panorama in London, Berlin, and Paris between 2011 and 2012 and the sheer scope and diversity of Richter’s leviathan artistic achievement is now well-recognized the world over. Ever since Vasari introduced the concept of a codified hierarchy of artistic aptitude, a line of masters from da Vinci and Michelangelo to Rembrandt, Turner, Monet, and Rothko have been celebrated as preeminent within their successive eras. Gerhard Richter is, quite simply, the master painter of ours. As the director of the Museum of Modern Art Glenn D. Lowry wrote in the foreword to the 2002 exhibition Gerhard Richter: Forty Years of Painting, “No other artist has placed more intriguing and rigorous demands upon specialists, interpreters, followers and average viewers alike – nor upon himself… In Richter’s work there is a demonstration of the ways in which painting’s resources are constantly replenished by the very problems it seems to pose, both for the painter and the viewer. Nobody in our own time has posed them better or solved them more inventively than Richter.” (Glenn D. Lowry, Exh. Cat., New York, Museum of Modern Art, Gerhard Ricther: Forty Years of Painting, 2002, p. 7) Abstraktes Bild is the consummate example of Richter’s cycle of abstract works executed in 1992 that are characterized by highly-distinctive schemas of striations. It is the last of the four paintings that comprise the series numbered 780, the other three being respectively housed in the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection, San Francisco, and the Daros Collection, Zurich. It is also one of eleven paintings of this cycle to exceed eight feet in height, with nine of those being housed in institutional collections, including the Hamburger Kunsthalle, the Duisburg Modern Art Museum and Moderna Museet in Stockholm, in addition to those listed above. Across the primed vastness of this empty canvas and with the great traction and drag of a hard-edged spatula, Richter streaked and smeared passages of semi-liquid material, fusing and dissecting wide tracts of oil paint. The shadows of the medium’s former malleability are caught now in a perpetually-dynamic stasis; cast as staccato ridges, crests, and peaks of impasto that punctuate an underlying fluidity in variously pronounced chromatic contrast. This creates a powerful sensation of depth. The interchangeability of light and dark hues in front and behind, respectively in unified swathes and broken accretions, such as deepest crimson on brilliant whites in the top left versus vivid cyan on opaque rich umbers towards the center right, radically destabilizes this sense of recession. This extreme textural topography creates an actual dynamism as the nature of the object subject to our vision constantly transforms with our shifting perspective and an ever-changing play of light across it. What is near and what is far becomes indefinite and our eye is forced to constantly readjust to attempt to comprehend the pure assault of pictorial data. Additional scrapes, smudges, and incisions in all directions carry us forward and back, beyond even the furthermost reaches of color and pigment in a way reminiscent of Fontana’s slashes and scything deconstruction of the picture plane into the infinity of space beyond. The sum of all these accretions and reductions, of Richter’s tireless process of addition and subtraction, is a record of time itself within the paint strata: the innumerable layers of application and eradication have left their traces behind to accumulate and forge a portrait of temporal genesis. Richter’s corpus of abstract paintings has often been considered as the culmination of the manifold lines of artistic enquiry he has pursued throughout his career spanning, among others, the Photo Paintings, Gray Paintings, Color Charts, Photorealist Paintings, Landscapes, Seascapes, and Photorealist Abstract Paintings. Following this plethora of artistic exploration, Gerhard Richter’s unprecedented art of abstraction stands as the crescendo to the epic journey of his career, during which he has ceaselessly interrogated the limits of representation, the nature of perception, and the operations of visual cognition. However, with increasing historical perspective it is also apparent that Richter’s influence on the course of abstract art extends a critical line of art historical precedent, and his achievements further those initiated by various masters who came before. Indeed, contemporaneous appreciation of Richter’s antecedents, from J.M.W. Turner, through Claude Monet to Mark Rothko and the Abstract Expressionists, can provide revealing and insightful context for the relationship between Richter and his forbears. Considering the phenomenal visual impact of the present work, it is not surprising that this painting was recently installed alongside one of Monet’s majestic Nymphéas at the Fondation Beyeler. Indeed, arguably more than any other abstract painting that Richter has created, Abstraktes Bild evokes the essential atmosphere and spirit, radical innovation, and supreme disposition of color that characterizes the French master’s vast late masterpieces. In this context it is instructive to consider a contemporary description of Monet’s Nymphéas by the essayist Jean-Louis Vaudoyer, which though penned in 1909 prophetically foreshadows Richter’s painting executed more than eighty years later: "Water that is pale blue and dark blue, water like liquid gold, treacherous green water reflects the sky…Here, more than ever before, painting approached music and poetry. There is in these paintings an inner beauty that is both plastic and ideal." (Jean-Louis Vaudoyer in La Chronique des Arts et de la Curiosité, 15th May 1909, p. 159, translated from French) In a similar vein, a discussion of Turner’s paintings by John Ruskin in 1843 that talks of the “abstract question of color” provides some further parallels with Richter’s project. Ruskin described the English painter’s work in terms of “the perfect and unchanging influence of all his pictures at any distance. We approach only to follow the sunshine… and retire only to feel it diffused over the scene, the whole picture glowing like a sun or star at whatever distance we stand, and lighting the air between us and it.” (John Ruskin, Modern Painters,Volume I, Part II, Section II, Chapter I, 1843 in E.T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn, eds., The Works of John Ruskin, London, 1903, p. 273) The sheer presence and enduring power of Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild immediately brings this account to life, and the simultaneously articulated and cohesive sense of luminosity is higly reminiscent of passages of Turner’s best painting. A subsequent analogy can also be found in Clement Greenberg’s 1950 analysis of the mesmerizing effect of Mark Rothko’s sublime canvases: “their surfaces exhale color with an enveloping effect that is enhanced by size itself. One reacts to an environment as much as to a picture hung on a wall.” (“‘American-Type’ Painting” (1955) cited in Clifford Ross, ed., Abstract Expressionism: Creators and Critics, New York, 1990, p. 248) Again we are immediately reminded of the engulfing influence of the present painting and Richter’s ambition to immerse the viewer in a state of both visual and corporeal experience. Ultimately, however, Richter’s achievement was without direct precedent. Abstraktes Bild possesses a unique identity whereby the total deconstruction of perception - dismantling themes of representation, illusion, communication - becomes a sublime chaos. As a paradigm of this oeuvre the present work communes a subjective relationship with the viewer and becomes itself experience rather than object. Richter's cumulative technique depends on the random nature of chance that is necessary to facilitate the artistic ideology of the abstract works. As the artist has himself explained, "I want to end up with a picture that I haven't planned. This method of arbitrary choice, chance, inspiration and destruction may produce a specific type of picture, but it never produces a predetermined picture...I just want to get something more interesting out of it than those things I can think out for myself." (the artist interviewed in 1990, in Hubertus Butin and Stefan Gronert, eds., Gerhard Richter. Editions 1965-2004: Catalogue Raisonné, Ostfildern-Ruit, 2004, p. 36)  With the repeated synthesis of chance being a defining trait of its execution, the painterly triumph of the present work becomes independent of the artist and acquires its own inimitable and autonomous individuality. Signed, dated 1992 and numbered 780-4 on the reverse

  • USAUSA
  • 2015-05-12
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Popeye

Jeff Koons has an eye for Pop. Heir to Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, Koons is the unmitigated twenty-first century successor to the Pop revolution of the 1960s. Celebrities, cartoon characters, paradigms of popular taste and archetypes of kitsch sentimentality all articulated in saccharine candy colors, faux-lux materials and high gloss comprise the quintessential Koonsian universe. This supreme eye for Pop, or indeed Pop-eye, is the very concept (and Duchampian linguistic pun) that underlines the powerful metaphoric significance of his most accomplished and major work of recent years – an immaculate and gleaming six and-a-half foot tall heroic statue depicting the swarthy cartoon sailor of the very same name. As for Warhol and Lichtenstein in the 1960s, for Koons, Popeye the Sailor Man is a true icon of twentieth-century popular culture; though over 80 years old, the all-American cartoon hero is nevertheless as relevant and universally famous across the globe today as he was almost a century ago. Immortalized by Koons’s aforementioned Pop forefathers in 1961, Popeye became a vehicle not just for ‘low-brow’ entertainment, but for a new high-art expression that adopted the ephemera and brand icons of a rapidly proliferating consumer age. Originally conceived in 1929 as a newspaper comic-strip, Popeye grew to the status of cultural phenomenon amidst the adversities of the Great Depression: resolutely ordinary yet tough, resilient, confident and super-strong, this self-made man personified the American dream in a time of international hardship. Koons has re-appropriated this American champion as an icon for the new millennium. Herculean in stance with cleft-chin proffered and outrageously proportioned muscles swelling, Popeye is three-dimensional and over life-size, incarnated with Brancusian reflectivity in Koons’s signature material: stainless steel. Created with the very highest level of craftsmanship and flawlessly finished in kaleidoscopic jewel-like glazes of extraordinary clarity, Popeye stands at the very apotheosis of a long line of monumental sculptures and statues in which Jeff Koons has courted controversy and sought banality to re-frame the terms of high art for the masses. Popeye embodies a mighty hybrid subtly nuanced with the essential traits synonymous with Koons’s most celebrated pieces and famous bodies of work. The seminal stainless steel Rabbit from the Statuary series of 1986, the porcelain sculpture Michael Jackson and Bubbles from Banality in 1986, the erotically charged yet Disneyesque flowers from Made in Heaven in 1991, and the irresistible and colossal stainless steel Balloon Dog and Hanging Heart of the Celebration series from 1994, together form the Koonsian arena within which Popeye, resolutely tied to the Twenty-First Century, now takes center stage. In 1929 Popeye made his debut as a bit-part in a long established comic-strip Thimble Theatre in the New York Journal.  Created by the Illinois born cartoonist Elzie Crisler Segar, the comic first appeared in print in 1919 but was radically transformed with Popeye’s appearance ten years later, propelling the cartoon, and moreover the character, to national fame and popularity. Having originally centered on the adventures of Olive Oyl and her family, Popeye was introduced as a straight-talking, quick-tempered mariner only intended to serve a sea-faring story-line. The new character, however, far outstripped the popularity of the cartoon’s existing premise and in turn sparked a radical transformation that witnessed Popeye’s elevation to main protagonist. The storylines thereafter developed with Popeye at the center apprehending villains and overcoming seemingly hopeless tasks by calling upon the strengthening properties of canned spinach. With his squinting eye, trademark corn-cob pipe, bulging forearms and salty attitude, Popeye became an icon of triumph over adversity - a status made all the more prevalent during the early 1930s owing to a dramatic decline in the social and financial climate. A product of the years between two world wars blighted by social powerlessness and economic hardship, Popeye was a cultural phenomenon. At its height the comic strip was reproduced in over 600 newspapers across the United States, was credited with singlehandedly saving the spinach industry during the depression, and alongside Mickey Mouse became one of the most successful animated cartoon franchises of the Twentieth Century. Reinterpreted for a new century and elevated to the status of high art statuary, Koons’s larger than life cartoon colossus is an opulent and heroic allegory expressed in the instantly accessible vernacular of Pop culture. With the help of a can of spinach Popeye is able to metamorphose from ordinary sailor into a hero with superhuman strength and cunning. As an unlikely champion, he represents a kind of everyman transcendence; in this sense Popeye is the perfect Koonsian hero. “For me, Popeye is a figure who has his limitations, but there’s this sense of acceptance.” (the artist in conversation with Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans Ulrich Obrist in Exh. Cat., London, Serpentine Gallery, Jeff Koons: Popeye Series, 2009, p. 69) Besides signifying confidence and courage in times of adversity, Popeye embodies the essential metaphor that underlines the very core of Koons’s practice: the acceptance of cultural history and the acceptance of self. Since the early 1980s Koons has worked within the remit of Pop art and its embrace of consumer driven visual culture to eradicate intellectual guilt and critical shame from an appreciation of mass taste. Through a lexicon of immediately recognizable ‘secular archetypes’ sourced from consumer goods, childhood icons and celebrity culture, Koons suspends judgment and employs superficial and kitschy taste to deliver exalted meaning and big concepts. This focus was first fully broached in 1986 with Banality, a body of work comprising the giant sculpture of a kitten dangling from a clothes line, Buster Keaton straddling a diminutive horse as well as Pink Panther and Michael Jackson and Bubbles porcelain statues. Proposing an altered concept of the Duchampian readymade, Koons creates objects based on emblems or ideas drawn from the mass consciousness as the cipher for a new conceptual dialogue. As Koons explains, “In the Banality series I started to focus on my dialogue about people accepting their own histories… I was just trying to say that whatever you respond to is perfect, that your history and your own cultural background are perfect… that it’s ok to give in to what you respond to.” (Jeff Koons, "Dialogues on Self-Acceptance" in Exh. Cat., Basel, Fondation Beyeler, Jeff Koons, 2012, p. 24) Popeye’s very own dictum, “I yam what I yam and tha's all what I yam,” is thus intentionally apt yet signals an inherent contradiction essential to Koons’s artistic project: though a champion of acceptance, the will or necessity to overcome and go beyond ultimately prevails. Katy Siegel has argued that this conflict reflects that of American culture in general, “which swings between the poles of ‘I’m, OK, you’re OK’, an almost belligerent insistence on not needing to learn or change, and the desire for self-improvement and social mobility.” (Katy Siegel in Hans Werner Holzwarth, ed., Jeff Koons, Cologne, 2009, p. 260) Triumphantly holding a can of spinach squeezed open by a giant hand and tumescent forearm, Popeye wields the key to his own self-mastery and transformation. For Koons, Popeye represents the essential übermensch and ultimate metaphor for the potential of art: “… Popeye transforms. He eats his spinach and he transforms. And art is the spinach. Art can transform your life.” (the artist in conversation with Pharrell Williams, ARTST TLK, Reserve Channel, 23 November 2013) As first fully articulated in Banality, Koons sees art as a form of ‘self-help’ heavily invested in a very traditional notion of enlightenment: art as a vehicle for a purer sense of being and empowerment. With Koons’s monumental Popeye, overt virility and inescapable phallic prowess is on display through a masquerade of bulging musculature and exultant posturing. Where Koons portrays Jackson in the guise of a tragi-kistch pietà, Popeye is undoubtedly steeped in classical tropes of heroic masculinity. Indeed, Popeye was framed within this very classical context in the recent exhibition Jeff Koons: The Sculptor at the Frankfurt Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, in which super-reflectivity and radiant color contrasted with the idealism of ancient marble. Evoking the straining biceps of the Hellenic Laӧcoon in the Vatican, possessing a bulk that summons the heavy musculature of the Farnese Hercules, and echoing the exquisitely rounded athletic curves for which the Discophoros of Polykleitos is paradigmatic, Popeye represents the meeting of American Pop and Minimalism with the European figurative tradition. Articulated in mirror polished stainless steel – the fabric of Minimalism and according to the artist, “symbol of the proletariat”– the present work reasserts the classical tradition of public statuary as an ideal projection of the body politic (the artist cited in Norman Rosenthal, "Notes on Jeff Koons" in The Jeff Koons Handbook, New York, 1992, p. 20). During the French Revolution, and most markedly associated with the radical tyranny of the Terror between 1793 and 1794, Jacques-Louis David cast the public seal of the Republic in the guise of Hercules. Symbolic of the glory of the French people, Hercules represented action over reason and the triumph of strength, courage and labor over the throne’s despotism. Intended to reside over the Place de la Concord, David’s unrealized 46 foot colossus combined an expression of democracy with threatening proletarian power. At once half-man and half-god, this mythological figure is the very historical archetype of empowered masculinity conjured by Koons’s Popeye. The prominent tattoo of a tank visible inside Popeye’s left bicep – an adaptation on the typical anchors tattooed on both forearms – affirms an equivalence between Hercules and the bellicose chauvinism of Popeye’s proletarian transcendence. The concept of the ‘self-made man’ utterly permeates Koons’s practice and finds its supreme articulation in the figure of Popeye. Extolling the virtues of transformation, whether via spinach supplements for Popeye, by means of radioactivity as in the Hulk, or the social mobility afforded by basketball for Dr. Dunkenstein, Koons is consistent in his emphasis of the work involved or physicality inherent to the act of transformation. As explicated by Katy Siegel, “A psychologist might opine that these characters simply allow the ‘real’ self of Clark Kent et al., to emerge. And yet this view doesn’t really make sense in Koons’s universe; all of the figures are distinguished by a physical – rather than psychological – transformation of speed, skill, size, costume, or coloration (the King of Pop turns white just as the Hulk turns green). That is, they seem to change from the outside in, often in response to some material event (downing a can of spinach, exposure to radioactivity), or in pursuit of social reward (cultural or athletic stardom). If at the beginning of his career Koons warned about the dangers of trying to become something one was not, he has increasingly emphasized what one makes of oneself in the world, rather than a natural self.” (Katy Siegel in Op. Cit., p. 510) Suspended in a continual state of becoming, the chameleon form of Popeye evokes a bipartite, and even tripartite, discourse on identity formation. In a signature gesture, Koons invites the viewer to consider their own reflection across an encasement of wonderfully rounded colored mirrors. As such we are not only witness to Popeye’s becoming and transformation but subject to reconsider and overcome our own sense of self. Interpreted this way, there is no better example in Koons’s oeuvre than the figure of the artist. As Arthur C. Danto has outlined, there is no doubt that the heroic Popeye is Koons by proxy in the world he is creating (Arthur C. Danto in Exh. Cat., London, Serpentine Gallery, Jeff Koons: Pop Eye Series, 2009, p. 31). Indeed, beyond possessing a Pop-eye, Koons is in fact Mr. Popeye himself. Signed, dated 2009-2011 and numbered 3/3 on the underside of Popeye's right foot

  • USAUSA
  • 2014-05-13
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1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider by Scaglietti

300 bhp 3,286 cc four overhead-camshaft V-12 engine, five-speed manual transmission, four-wheel upper and lower wishbone independent suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, and tubular steel frame. Wheelbase: 94.5 in. Single-ownership from new Purchased new by Eddie Smith Sr., of North Carolina Matching-numbers, fully restored example One of only 10 highly desirable N.A.R.T. Spiders ever built Proceeds to benefit charity It’s a Monday morning in March 1968 and Eddie Smith Sr., known to his family and friends affectionately as “George,” has arrived at work well before dawn. As he has for so many years, he and several volunteers are making the employees breakfast to start the work week with a smile: 150 biscuits, 17 dozen scrambled eggs, and all the sausages, gravy, grits, and fixings to feed a booming hosiery mail-order business in the small town of Lexington, North Carolina. Parked at his office, by the way, is a brand new Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider, one of only ten in the world, which he just acquired from his friend and fellow enthusiast, legendary Ferrari importer Luigi Chinetti. The story of chassis 10709, one of the most famous and desirable Ferraris in the world, is as much about the provenance of a sports car as it is the remarkable life story of the gentleman who cherished it from the day he took delivery and from whose beloved family it is now offered to the public. It represents not only the ownership of a sports car for all the right reasons, but also, on a much greater level, the shared multi-generational passion that 10709 has encouraged within the family, and the American Dream that it signifies. From Hardscrabble to Hosiery Eddie Smith was born in 1918, one of four siblings, into a poor but loving family. His parents died tragically within one year of each other, well before young Eddie had even turned 10 years old. Thankfully, the Junior Order, of which his father was a member, arranged to have the children sent to an orphanage together, which was, in fact, a blessing, as he later considered it one of the happiest times of his life. Rising every morning at 4:30 to milk cows and tend to the usual farm chores was hard work, but it was relatively short-lived, as his son, Eddie Jr., recently recalled. “When you were 18, your birthday present was the door! They couldn’t afford to keep you, so my dad found his way to the nearest town of Lexington, and that’s where he built his life and started working.” Eddie Sr. started first as an usher at the Carolina Theater in town, where he met his future wife, Sarah, before spending some time as a cab driver, which segued into a dispatcher position and finally the role of manager. Eddie, however, clearly had greater things in mind. He worked his way up the street and found employment with a man who owned a small mail-order hosiery business. Eight years later, he found himself out of work due to the death of the owner and was about to make a career leap that changed everything. In 1952, he and two other partners started their own mail-order hosiery business, which they named the National Wholesale Company. Castrol Fever Fast-forward eight years. Eddie’s business is thriving, he’s bought out his partners, and the company has expanded into lingerie and other apparel. He’s become a daring businessman that has tremendous foresight to seize on expansion opportunities when they present themselves, and time after time, his gambles pay off. One day, in the spring of 1960, he was asked by his son, Eddie Jr., if he would be allowed to attend the 12 Hours of Sebring in Florida with several friends. Eddie Sr. said yes, but he also decided to tag along, and the entire gang headed south in a 1960 Impala Tri-Power 348 with a four on the floor. Immediately enamored, Eddie Jr. later recalled, “He smelled that Castrol burning and it got in his blood!” The father-son duo returned the following year, this time in a new Chevrolet Corvette, but as John Lamm wrote for Road & Track in 1998, “Senior’s tastes were changing. ‘I don’t know what it was, but you hear about the Ferrari mystique…at first we didn’t know much about sports cars, but we’d see Ferraris and they were winning. I’d hear about Jaguars and others, but I always wanted a Ferrari.’” Eddie Sr. satisfied this craving by buying a stunning used 250 GT Short Wheelbase California Spider, which was facilitated by one of the many friends the Smiths were making in the pits and the party tents at the annual races in Sebring, none other than North American Ferrari importer and renowned racing driver Luigi Chinetti. As everyone who met him came to find out, “George” had an absolutely infectious personality; he had a fun-loving effusiveness, a gift for telling stories, and non-stop energy that made him the life of every party, even at those of his son and grandson’s fraternity at Chapel Hill! The $7,000 California Spider was later sold to a fraternity brother of Eddie Jr.’s for $5,600. It was replaced by an equally worthy stable mate, the latest 12-cylindered supercar from Maranello, a 275 GTB/4 Berlinetta, for which delivery proved a much more exciting proposition. “George” was invited directly by Chinetti to join him on the first of several high-speed European tours, the likes of which petrol-heads and Ferraristi can only dream of. As illustrated by an extraordinary family photo album, the two of them, along with Don Weber of Texas, arrived in Paris, from where they drove a then-new front-wheel drive Oldsmobile Toronado nonstop and at breakneck speed toward Modena. After several days of long lunches, dinners, and nights out with Ferrari executives at the Hotel Real Fini, the trio picked up three brand-new 275 GTB/4 Berlinettas, drove over the border into Switzerland, and enjoyed the twisty Alpine roads on their way to Geneva. After a quick stopover, it was back to Paris at high-revving speed, before Eddie’s stunning new car was loaded onto a ship on the coast, homeward bound. In all, Eddie and Luigi romped around Europe in their prancing horses three times; the last time was in 1972, with the new 365 GTB/4 Daytona Coupe, co-driven this time by Eddie Jr. In an endless array of stories about Eddie Sr. that could fill countless volumes, Eddie Jr. recalled how, on two separate daytrips, the father-son team roared through a tunnel at breakneck speed on their way to Florence (unable to find the light switch!) and put the pedal to the metal, chasing a Dino, whose driver had made the mistake of passing the Smiths on the Autostrada, at 140+ mph, on their way to visit the Riva boat factory. N.A.R.T. Spider Amazingly, the most extraordinary car Eddie ever bought simply came into his possession as a matter of personal preference. He owned the four-cam berlinetta for only a very short period of time before Luigi Chinetti came calling once again, recalling Eddie’s love of convertibles. “I talked Enzo into building some spiders. Do you want one?” His protestations at having just bought the berlinetta were met with, “I’ll give you your money back!” And so, Luigi and Eddie headed overseas once more to take delivery of chassis 10709, what would become one of the most famous Ferraris in the world. After the usual stopover in Paris, and a high-speed jaunt through the countryside to Northern Italy, what George found in Maranello was no ordinary cabriolet. This new model was unlike anything Ferrari had built before. Road & Track magazine called it “the most satisfying sports car in the world” and featured it on their cover. In fact, this was the first chassis that had been raced by Denise McCluggage and Pinkie Rollo very successfully at Sebring, and it was later featured in the Steve McQueen film The Thomas Crown Affair. In speaking with RM Auctions recently, Denise commented, “I love the look of the car, and it’s absolutely perfect for all the great driving events, from the Colorado Grand to the California Mille. Even with the top down, you can outrun the rain and stay perfectly dry.” Meanwhile, McQueen loved the car so much that he bought his own example, chassis 10453, not long thereafter. Like so many great sports car importers, Luigi Chinetti recognized the viability of sporty open cars in the American market. The 250 GT SWB California Spider in particular proved itself a resounding success, and to this day, it is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful cars to ever come from Modena. But whereas the four-cam’s predecessor, the 275 GTB, offered a spider variant, the wind-in-your-hair alternative to the 275 GTB/4 was a 330 GTS. As such, the N.A.R.T. Spider was born of a direct request from Luigi Chinetti to offer his buyers precisely what they wanted. Adding the recognizable North American Racing Team badge to the back of the car certainly helped its cache. N.A.R.T., after all, was one of endurance racing’s most successful teams, with a banner campaigned by the likes of the Rodriguez Brothers, Bob Grossman, Masten Gregory, Phil Hill, Jean Guichet, and many others. In all, only 10 cars were built, making them incredibly rare. As Luigi Chinetti Jr. recently recounted, “As an open version of the 275 GTB, it’s a very romantic car. To this day, many people think it’s the prettiest car ever made, and certainly the romance with the little prancing horse in the center of the steering wheel is a very powerful thing. It signifies history and design.” This particular “prancing horse” was originally finished in Azzurro Metallizzato (Metallic Blue), and when Eddie picked the car up, it was also fitted with a chromed front grille guard, which it wears to this day. Years later, as concours judges protested the fitment of this grille guard, Eddie, in his typical good-humored way, declared, “Well, if that’s not original, I’ll be as surprised as you are, because it was on there when I picked the car up myself in Modena!” As Eddie headed north on the Autostrada toward the Swiss border, as per usual, he was most certainly delighting in the finest motor car he had ever driven. With over 300 horsepower, a four-cam, 3.2-liter V-12 fed by six Weber carburetors, a five-speed gearbox, and four-wheel independent suspension, this Ferrari was miles away from anything anyone in Lexington, North Carolina, could have ever dreamed of. The wail of the motor under full acceleration was surely something he delighted in immensely, as Eddie’s daughter, Lynda Swann, recalled. “One of the things he loved most about his Ferraris was the sound. You could hear the N.A.R.T. from several blocks away!” Three Generations of Ferraristi After 10709 was delivered to Luigi Chinetti Motors in New York, Eddie took delivery in March 1968 and headed down to the endurance races at Sebring not long thereafter. He would return two or three times, always with Eddie Jr., who said, “We must have broken the land speed record between Lexington and Sebring on more than one occasion.” The Daytona would come and go, but the N.A.R.T. Spider remained in the family through to the present day. Eddie, in the meantime, had become an ardent supporter and beloved member of the Ferrari Club of America, attending many of its events, reunions, and track days. By the 1980s, he had refinished the car a darker red/maroon metallic color, and it was pictured as such at an FCA national meeting and reunion of N.A.R.T. road and racing cars at Lake Lanier Island in Georgia. Many events followed, including the 30th Annual FCA National Meet in Palm Beach Gardens in 1993, the third annual Cavallino Classic the following year, and the 31st FCA International Concours in Monterey, California. He returned to Cavallino many more times, including Road Atlanta in 1999, the 40th Annual FCA Concours at Sebring in 2003 (where he won the Luigi Chinetti Memorial Award), and Virginia International Raceway in 2004, where he won Best in Show. Many awards were won, parties were attended, and dances were enjoyed. Meanwhile, Eddie Smith Jr. was forging his own path to success. Not long after the N.A.R.T. Spider arrived in North Carolina, the recent college graduate ventured out on his own and bought the struggling Grady-White boat company; it was a company that he not only turned around, but he also led the charge, as he has pioneered industry-leading advancements, manufacturing techniques and unparalleled customer service that have garnered the company J.D. Power & Associates awards every year they’ve been available. Through it all, 10709 remained part of the family, as Eddie tended to National Wholesale, which is now run by his daughter, Lynda. Eddie Jr. employed the same values and hard work as his father to build Grady-White into what it is today, joining the National Marine Manufacturers Hall of Fame in the process and following in his father’s footsteps, who was inducted into the Direct Mail Hall of Fame. Eddie Jr.’s company employs hundreds of dedicated individuals, many of whom have remained with him for decades, including its current president, Kris Carroll. With an emphasis on safety and catering to the needs of the active sport fisherman, Grady-White is unique in that it also espouses its owners’ values of preserving the environment and fisheries for generations to come. In fact, it’s certainly no surprise that the same family that founded National Wholesale, and started every work week with a generous southern breakfast, also built Grady-White into what it is today, with a commitment to ensure every employee comes to work on Monday as happy as they were when they left on Friday. Chris Smith has shared the same passion as his father and grandfather, not only for the N.A.R.T. Spider, but also to the University of North Carolina, the family business, and the values that have kept the family so close. He fondly recalls a high school date to the ice cream shop, where he was scolded by several old-timers, who said, “Do you know whose car that is? You’d better polish it before you return it!” The list of family anecdotes is heartwarming and exceptional to say the least, but it is suffice to say that “George’s” ownership of the N.A.R.T Spider came full circle on his 70th birthday, when Eddie Jr. surprised him with a brand new Ferrari Testarossa. Ten years later, on his 80th birthday, he surprised him once more with a Ferrari F355 F1 Spider. An Infectious Personality As noted Ferrari historian Marcel Massini recalled, “He was a very nice gentleman, a true Ferrari aficionado with a big heart. It was certainly very rare that a Ferrari owner belonged to the club for so long and was active for over 40 years.” Indeed, Eddie Smith Sr. bought and owned this Ferrari for all the right reasons: he enjoyed the camaraderie of the club, but, most importantly, he derived pleasure from flying around the roads in Lexington, listening to the high-revving V-12 and enjoying the car’s stunning good looks. Most long-term FCA members will attest to the wonderful stories “George” told of Luigi Chinetti and his early Ferrari experiences, and their wives will happily recount what a tireless dancer he was. Just as he didn’t leave the dance floor until the party was over, his foot never came off the throttle until it was absolutely necessary! His need for speed was so great that instead of buckling up during takeoff in his private Sabreliner jet, he would stand up in the cockpit, between the two pilots, to experience the surge of acceleration as they were going down the runway. As Luigi Chinetti Jr. recently said, “He was always happy and a true pleasure to be around. He wasn’t just an enthusiast about the cars themselves but the entire experience—the drives around Europe and the visits to the factory. He was a really nifty guy!” A New Home As the value of his N.A.R.T. Spider began to rise, he never once considered parting with it, even when notable celebrities made him offers that most owners wouldn’t refuse. After Steve McQueen was rear-ended at a stoplight in his own N.A.R.T. Spider, he called Eddie, whose car was currently being built. Eddie told him “Steve, I like you but I don’t love you. And you can’t have my car!” Since “George’s” passing in 2007, the car has been stored and maintained in a separate, purpose-built garage within Grady-White’s airplane hangar, as a monument, of sorts, to his ownership of the car; it is complete with his racing suit and beloved worn deck shoes in which he wore when he so frequently drove around the track. A recent inspection by both an RM specialist and a Ferrari expert confirmed the exceptional condition of the car and how well it has been preserved over the course of its life. The restoration was conducted to the highest standards, and enormous effort was used to ensure that even the smallest replaced part, right down to an old bearing, was retained. The body lines are excellent, and the car’s presentation is thoroughly correct. It runs and drives nicely, pulling through the gears with tremendous power and stopping without issue, and most importantly, the car has the distinction of having full matching numbers from front to back; the gearbox, body, and engine stampings all correspond with chassis 10709. For further details and a list of parts that accompany the car, please speak with an RM specialist. In recent years, the car has been seen by the public only on limited occasions. Just last year, Eddie Jr. had the car brought to Savannah, Georgia, for an FCA meet, where he was joined by Chris, Lynda, and all of their children and grandchildren. The entire family and Ferrari community celebrated “George’s” life, but, as Eddie recalls, “Those people enjoyed the car so much that it almost brought them to tears. So we decided the car needs to be somewhere where it can be seen and appreciated.” The experience in Savannah consequently compelled the family to part with the car, and in a final act of supreme generosity for which the Smith family is known, they will donate the proceeds to charity. “The hard part was deciding to let the car go after 45 years, but it’s been in prison in that hangar. ‘George’ always taught us to give back, and by giving all the money to several charities, we know that it would have brought a smile to his face.” Eddie Smith Sr. certainly set an example for philanthropy in the family. Untold children found their way through college with his assistance, or they enjoyed the failing theater in Lexington, North Carolina, which he helped resurrect. As a result, that theater was subsequently named in his honor and turned into a first-class civic center. A new hospital was built with his assistance in Lexington, North Carolina, and the same was true of a new library. In fact, after discovering a battered woman by the side of the road in Lexington on his morning jog, he helped not only her, but countless others, when he kicked off a fundraiser that resulted in the building of a local shelter for women in similar situations. An Unrepeatable Opportunity Ferraris are bought and sold internationally at staggering rates, but their perpetual desirability is attested to by the fact that the vast majority of important examples are not only known and accounted for, but that they are also well documented by historians and enthusiasts. This is especially true of the 350 275 GTB/4s and, more specifically, the 10 additional N.A.R.T. Spiders, which irrefutably signify a holy grail for collectors of road going Ferraris. Add to that 10709’s exceptional purity, matching numbers, and, most importantly, the fact that it has been owned, cherished, and enjoyed in the same good home from the day it was picked up at the factory by its first owner; this is an owner who, much like the buyer of an FXX or 599 GTO, was personally asked by Ferrari whether he would like to buy such a car. For the true Ferrari enthusiast, 10709’s offering at auction is quite simply an unrepeatable and almost unbelievable opportunity. For a complete list of spare parts, please speak with an RM representative. Addendum Please note: if you intend to bid on this lot, you need to register your interest with RM Auctions no less than 48 hours in advance of the sale by calling +1 519 352 4575 and asking to speak with a Client Services representative or emailing clientservices@rmauctions.com. There will be no Internet bidding available for this lot. Chassis no. 10709 Engine no. 10709

  • USAUSA
  • 2013-08-16
Hammer price
Show price

Suprematism, 18th Construction

Kazimir Malevich Suprematism, 18th Construction By Aleksandra Shatskikh Precisely one hundred years ago, at the turn of spring to summer in 1915, a Russian avant-garde artist Kazimir Malevich faced a pivotal moment while making the greatest discovery of his life, now known in the history of art by the term ‘Suprematism’. As an avant-garde painter, Malevich achieved success at a mature age, when he was 30 years old. Mikhail Larionov played an important part in Malevich’s development as an artist. He was a pioneer among young Russian artists and organised the famous first exhibition of the Jack of Diamonds. Having recognised and appreciated the innovative works by Malevich, Larionov immediately included him in his circle, and offered him the position of Secretary for the Donkey's Tail group. This meant that Larionov had placed Malevich in the third most important position of this group of Russian radicals, with the first two belonging to the celebrated couple Natalia Goncharova and Larionov himself. Goncharova enhanced Malevich’s standing by recommending his work to Wassily Kandinsky. The acclaim from Larionov and Goncharova inspired a new wave of expressive neo-primitivism in Malevich’s work and brought about his first peasant series. Malevich embraced the liberating power of artistic freedom, expressed in the deformation of the figure and powerful saturated colours. The paintings exhibited at Donkey's Tail in March 1912 marked the peak of his intensely colourful, improvisational and highly energetic painting style. At the same time, Malevich closely observed the revolutionary trends in the art of the twentieth century, particularly French Cubism and Italian Futurism. He was drawn to the harmony of the Cubists’ carefully adjusted compositions, while Futurism attracted him for its destructive dynamism - crushing and fragmenting the image. Merging the diverse impulses of innovative European art trends, Malevich defined his own work as Cubofuturism. However, Malevich’s sources of inspriation were not solely rooted in art, but also in poetic experiments. In 1913 he became close with the Russian poet Alexei Kruchenykh who invented Zaum, a transrational poetic form. This inspired Malevich to review conventional traditions as a whole, and led him to a new, non-figurative language. None the less, painting remained the dominant medium for Malevich and his new understanding of the possibilities it offered was conveyed in his ‘fevralist’ compositions. ‘Zaum Realism’ and its illogical juxtapositions of elements not only shattered conventional painting principles, but also separated Malevich from the laws previously established by the European avant-garde. Even the most radical painting of Western artists, with its deconstructive compositions, unexpected colours and rigid fabrications of the model, maintained an inviolable bond with nature and an ‘objective reality’. Malevich’s revolutionary act was to refuse even the loosest connection with the object. Previously colour was an element that bore the essential meaning of a painting, yet Malevich redirected colour from any existing phenomenon. Thus, his ‘non-objective’ painting was born. Colour now expressed itself in pure geometric forms hovering in white space. For these new canvases, Malevich coined the term ‘Suprematism’, where ‘supremacy’ signified domination of colour above all other elements of a painting. Russian artists have often resented their dependence on European artistic trends. Malevich’s first non-objective paintings immediately stated an unprecedented event of discovery that had never occurred in the Western world, which, for the first time, elicited Russian Art as original and revolutionary. The concept of ‘Russian avant-garde’ emerged as an art historical term much later, but in the summer of 1915 Malevich laid its foundations. Malevich’s first suprematist paintings, completed in late May and early June of 1915, were complex and colourful multifaceted compositions. While working on one of them Malevich experienced a severe shock when a square black plane seemingly overshadowed a compound composition. The Black Square (fig. 1), in its compressed form, contained all the possibilities that were the foundations of Suprematism; Malevich called it the ‘core of compressed meanings’. The artist fully exposed the potential of Suprematism, creating a new movement in art, supported by a circle of followers. He also designed examples of a new form of architecture that profoundly influenced the development of twentieth-century architecture and wrote original philosophical works. In 1920, Malevich summarised the fundamental potential of this great abstract system in the definition of ‘Suprematist order’. The immensity of Malevich’s talent as a painter was reflected in his ability to convey his understanding of the foundations of eternal physical existence of the universe – space, laws of gravity, energy – in expressive plastic forms. His Black Square was the first and most fundamental form of the Suprematist triad. Two other forms ‘Black Circle’ and ‘Black Cross’ were a result of a dynamic transformation of the square: ‘spinning’ around the centre, edges of the square marked a circle; then dynamic forces dichotomised the square and forced the halves to move toward each other and then turned horizontally to form a cross. Throughout 1915, he created a number of magnificent non-objective paintings, many of which were exhibited in December at the famous 0.10 exhibition. Among this heroic legacy, Suprematism, 18th Construction had a special place. This title was inscribed on the reverse of the canvas at a later date, when Malevich was preparing the Berlin exhibition in 1927. The artist typically chose the definition of ‘construction’ in its broader meaning, rather than the word ‘structure’. In addition, he opposed Suprematism to Constructivism (he considered constructivism ‘a footman serving the objective reality’). On the reverse, the artist dated this work to 1914, but the picture could not have been created earlier than June or later than October 1915. By backdating their canvases, Russian avant-garde artists believed that they could irrevocably establish their pioneering artistic discoveries. Suprematism, 18th Construction was first shown in public a month and a half before the celebrated 0.10 exhibition. The painting, along with two other Suprematist works by Malevich, was shown in the Exhibition of Modern Decorative Art in Moscow from 6th to 20th November 1915 (fig. 3). The organiser of the event, a wealthy artist Natalia Davydova and the wife of Tchaikovsky’s nephew Dmitry Davydov, invited Malevich after a recommendation of her close friend Alexandra Ekster. Malevich accepted the invitation and exhibited in the Lemercier Gallery, and the present work and two others were included in the Catalogue of the exhibition of contemporary decorative arts. Tapestry and carpets based on the artists’ sketches as sketches for Scarves (nos. 90 & 91) and Pillows (no. 92). The exhibition had a great public response and photographs of the central hall were published in the weekly Iskra (no. 45, 15th November 1915), which promoted Malevich’s non-objective paintings. A composition with cruciform planes was displayed on the right wall, Untitled. Suprematist Composition (now in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice; fig. 2) was on a podium to the left, and Suprematism, 18th Construction was displayed on the right. I would like to emphasise an important fact about the first public appearance of Suprematism, 18th Construction: Malevich was not afraid to show his paintings at an exhibition of decorative arts, an act that demonstrated his courage and freedom from traditional categorisation of art into ‘high art’ and ‘decorative art’. He was aware that the process of accepting innovative art was rooted in educating the public and their perception of new forms and principles of art. In this light, the hierarchical division of ‘high’ and ‘low’ forms becomes meaningless. As previously noted, the choice of the title ‘Construction’ for the painting was not random. Five elongated trapezoidal elements appear to be fixed to each other by natural forces, as they cluster through a powerful magnetic attraction. Tightly welded together, the group of colour planes have no relation to any recognisable object, or to any other of the most innovative ‘-isms’ at the time. The complete lack of object in the composition is further emphasised by the abstract space in which the colour structure is floating, which the author referred to as the ‘white abyss of the background’. Suprematism, 18th Construction repeats the diagonal dynamic of Automobile and Lady (fig. 4), a canvas that has not survived. In Suprematist iconography, this was one of Malevich’s favourite plastic idioms. According to Malevich, the basic principle of Suprematism was in the ‘weightlessness’, designed to create the effect of the non-objective structures floating against the abyss of the white space. In Suprematism, 18th Construction the overpowering ‘severity’ of the central trapezoid is balanced by four colour plates. Malevich contrasts the massive black plane with the bright yellow stripe, and enhances its effect by an additional bright-blue stripe. It should be noted that the artist achieves compositional balance by enlarging the lower element - a process that seems to unfold in front of us - and this is the distinguishing property of his 1915 Suprematist paintings. For Malevich, the rigor and restraint of colour was essential. He shunned any ‘beautiful colour schemes and considered them a remnant of lightweight ‘aestheticism’. Malevich himself curated 0.10: The Last Futurist Exhibition of Paintings, which opened on 19th December 1915. The display of Malevich’s works has been recorded in a sole photograph of two adjacent walls of his room (fig. 5). Suprematism, 18th Construction was not captured by this photograph, however we can confidently say that it was included in the exhibition. Anticipating the sensational effect of the 0.10 exhibition, Malevich brought all his 1915 paintings to Petrograd. Some of them were still wet, hence with strips carefully laid on the corners to preserve them. Along with Black Square, Suprematism, 18th Construction is a painting that embodies Malevich’s non-objective formula, reflected in the dynamic diagonal construction of colours, tied together with an energetic tension floating in the white abyss. The photograph of the 0.10 exhibition shows several similar compositions, all of them combined into a series of ‘Art masses in motion’. Among other paintings are Suprematist Composition: Airplane in Flight (now in The Museum of Modern Art, New York; fig. 7) and Suprematism, with Eight Rectangles (in the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; fig. 8). Suprematism, 18th Construction was the first painting from the series ‘Art masses in motion’ that appeared in public, and it powerfully exhibits the fundamental elements of the ‘Suprematist order’ created by the great Russian avant-garde artist Kazimir Malevich. Aleksandra Shatskikh, PhD is an art historian. Her book Black Square: Malevich and the Origin of Suprematism was published in 2012. In 1927 Malevich accompanied the present work and a number of other Suprematist canvases to the now-famous Grosse Berliner Ausstellung, held from May to September of that year. This was the first time Malevich’s work was shown outside of Russia, and was pivotal in establishing his reputation on the international scene. According to Matthew Drutt, ‘No other Russian artist, not even Kandinsky, who had been celebrated in Germany long before Malevich, had ever received such distinguished attention. [...] The exhibition became a defining moment in Malevich's career in terms of the reception of his work in the West, not just at the time, but subsequently also; as it turns out, the works shown would become, outside Russia, the primary source of knowledge of Malevich's oeuvre for the next fifty years’ (M. Drutt in Kazimir Malevich: Suprematism (exhibition catalogue), op. cit., pp. 20-21). In the surviving photographs of that exhibition as well as of a dinner organised for the Warsaw exhibition that same year (fig. 10), we can see Suprematism, 18th Construction hanging on the walls. In June 1927 Malevich was obliged to return to the Soviet Union and arranged for the painting to be stored in Berlin, but he was prevented from leaving the Soviet Union, where he died in 1935. Suprematism, 18th Construction was later entrusted to the German architect Hugo Häring, who purportedly sold it to the Stedelijk Museum. It was finally returned to the artist's heirs in 2008. When the works originally included in the Berlin exhibition were re-assembled in 1973, the American artist Donald Judd made the following conclusion about Malevich, his non-objective painting and his legacy: ‘It's obvious now that the forms and colors in the paintings that Malevich began painting in 1915 are the first instances of form and color. ... His work is more radical than Mondrian's, for example, which has a considerable idealistic quality and which ultimately has an anthropomorphic, if 'abstract', composition of high and low, right and left. Art doesn't change in sequence. By now there is work and controversy many times over within the context Malevich established’ (D. Judd, reprinted in ibid. p. 23). The effect that Malevich's art had on future generations of artists has long been recognised and was the subject of a recent exhibition Malevich and the American Legacy, held at the Gagosian Gallery, New York in 2011. Unlike the pictures of his fellow Russian artist Kandinsky, whose pre-war oils were embellished with flurries of abstraction, Malevich's pictures have an unadulterated linearity and precision that was a major precursor of abstraction in the second half of the twentieth century. Mark Rothko (fig. 11), Josef Albers, Ellsworth Kelly, Donald Judd (fig. 12) and Barnett Newman (fig. 13) can all trace the origins of their work to Malevich's sublimely pared-down shapes, bold colour and non-objective compositions. With its vibrancy and purity of form, Suprematism, 18th Construction transcend its historical frame of reference, earning the status of a timeless classic. Looking towards the future, Malevich himself knew of the great impact that his Suprematist philosophy would have on the development of modern aesthetics and artistic theory: ‘Our world of art has become new, non-objective, pure. Everything has vanished, there remains a mass of material, from which the new forms will be built. In the art of Suprematism forms will live, like all living forms of nature. These forms announce that man has gained his equilibrium by arriving from a state of single reasoning at one of double reasoning. Utilitarian reasoning and intuitive reasoning. The new realism in painting is very much realism in painting for it contains no realism of mountains, sky, water... Until now there was realism of objects, but not of painted units of colour which are constructed so that they depend neither on form, nor on colour, nor on their position relative to each other. Each form is free and individual. Each form is a world’ (K. Malevich, ‘From Cubism and Futurism to Suprematism: The New Realism in Painting’, 1916, reprinted in Charles Harrison & Paul Wood (eds.), Art in Theory, 1900-2000, Oxford, 1992, p. 181). This revolutionary new world is beautifully encapsulated in Suprematism, 18th Construction, which remains a masterpiece of twentieth-century avant-garde art. This work has been requested for the forthcoming exhibition In Search of '0,10': The Last Futurist Exhibition of Painting to be held at the Fondation Beyeler, Basel from October 2015 to January 2016.

  • GBRUnited Kingdom
  • 2015-06-24
Hammer price
Show price

World auction record for any jadeite jewellery and for cartier

Composed of twenty-seven graduated jadeite beads of highly translucent bright emerald green colour, completed by a clasp set with calibré-cut rubies and baguette diamonds, mounted in platinum and 18 karat yellow gold, length approximately 530mm, unsigned. Accompanied by Hong Kong Jade & Stone Laboratory certificate numbered KJ 84088 (1-5), dated 23 January 2014, stating that the jadeites are natural, known in the trade as "A jade". Also accompanied by SSEF certificate numbered 73188, dated 28 February 2014, stating that the jadeites are natural, with no indications of impregnation. Further accompanied by SSEF Appendix stating that jadeite beads "exhibit a perfectly matching colour, combined with an outstanding translucency and excellent lustre...The rarity of this jadeite necklace is based not only on its excellently matching quality and impressive size, but also on its historic provenance and its highly remarkable style and workmanship. It can be thus considered a true and rare treasure of nature." ________________________________ Jadeite Jewellery of Utmost Prominence in the History of Auction: The Hutton-Mdivani Necklace For hundreds of years, jadeite has been a symbol of supreme status and extreme wealth. The original definition of the two Chinese characters, Fei Cui, which stands of jadeite in modern days, attests the pre-eminence of this special gemstone. Yi Wuzhi (literally “The Book of Foreign Matters’) explains, “Cui, a bird resembling a swallow, the male and red bird is named Fei, whereas the female green bird is named Cui, its feathers are used as adornments.” Cui was a very rare and precious bird in the old days and were hunted for their exceptional bright-coloured feathers. Jadeites, which come in a wide range of attractive colours, were coined Fei Cui for their beauty and high value. Metaphysics pronounces jade as a spiritual gemstone, if it is worn close to one’s skin, energy would be transferred to the wearer and a healthy influence would be exerted, and the jadeite itself, attaining positive aura from the wearer, improves in colour and translucency. The intricate beauty of jadeite is best seen in their mere simplicity, the finest jadeites are always polished as a cabochon spared of superfluous embellishments, while jadeite beads are the epitome of all form of jadeite jewellery under this guiding principle. Top-quality jadeites are often referred to as ‘old mine’ jadeites originating from the reputed mines in Hpakan in Burma. Their dense structure, fine crystals, even colour and high translucency deem such specimens to be the best in the world. However, such exceptional jadeite boulders are extremely scarce and relatively small in size, jadeite beads that could be cut and polished from these rough are mostly 5mm to 10mm in diameter. The twenty-seven jadeite beads on this necklace being offered as Lot 1847 was of extremely fine texture, round and succulent in shape and colour, like mouthwatering grapes under warm sunlight, glowing through their thin skins, exuberant and mellow, elating the spirit of whoever set eyes on them. The most astounding fact lies in the size of its beads, even the smallest bead in this suite measures 15.40mm, far exceeding those that made their way into the auction markets, and the largest of all measures an impressive 19.20mm, not to mention that there are twenty-seven of such enormous jadeite beads in total, amassing to unprecedented illustriousness. In general, to fashion a strand of matching jadeite beads, all the beads must be carved from the same boulder, and as many as thrice the desired number of beads are often needed from which to sleeve the most suitable and matching ones. With the immense wastage involved, jadeite bead necklaces rank among the most valuable and sought-after forms of jadeite jewellery. To put together a suite of such colossal and fine jadeite beads as those found on the Hutton Mdivani Necklace was utterly challenging, since a jadeite boulder of supreme quality and gigantic size must be recovered in the first place for to fashion such stunning beads. Throughout history, jadeites have been highly prized and worn by the rich and famous, many of whom were legendary female figures from the ruling class and notable fashion icons of all times, including Empress Dowager Cixi of China, Madame Chiang Kai-Shek and Madame Wellington Koo, wife of the famous Chinese diplomat V. K. Wellington Koo. The owner and the wearer of this spectacular jadeite necklace was indeed a figure of utmost importance in the world of jewellery collection in the past century, a famous socialite with a lavish taste for luxurious living, prodigal when acquiring the most exquisite gems, but never imprudent in her tasteful and refined selection: ‘Million Dollar Baby’ Ms Barbara Hutton. Every piece of jewel in her treasury was worthy of special mention, and this one-of-a-kind jadeite bead necklace by Cartier is no exception. The understated opulence of this necklace renders the subtlety of Hutton’s beauty and graceful demeanor, which was in no need of ostentatious parade; her strong presence alone defines timeless elegance. However, just as other treasures that were forever lost during late Qing and early Republican period, the provenance of this jadeite necklace remains undetermined. The one thing we can be sure of is that these twenty-seven green succulent beads had already appeared in Europe during the early 1930s, it must have taken a considerable time for the jadeite beads to travel across the oceans. It should also be taken into account that Cartier, as a Couture high jewellery maison, takes tremendous time for designing, sourcing the necessary components and eventually executing their art piece. Considering all these facts, the jadeite beads on this necklace can be dated at least to the late Qing dynasty. When compared to a superb jadeite bead necklace remodeled from a Qing imperial court necklace which was sold at Sotheby’s New York in 2010, the Hutton-Mdivani Necklace currently offered are far superior in colour, texture, translucency and size, which indicates an equally, if not more distinguished original ownership. The jadeite bead necklace made its debut in the auction market in 1988, when it fetched an impressive USD 2 million, which was the highest price ever paid for a piece of jadeite jewellery, causing a great sensation both in the East and the West. Six years later in 1994, the necklace took centre stage at an auction room in Hong Kong and was sold for double its previous hammer price, achieving an astonishing US$4.2 million, setting a new record yet again for jadeite jewelleries worldwide. Since then, this impressive jadeite bead necklace has become one of the most legendary and important piece of jadeite jewellery known to the world.

  • HKGHong Kong SAR China
  • 2014-04-07
Hammer price
Show price

Abstraktes Bild

"The semblance that concerns Richter is of a 'second nature'… a culture-become-nature bathed in the glow of the media, a semblance permeated with photographic, televisual, and now digital visulalities." Hal Foster, ‘Semblance According to Gerhard Richter’, in: Benjamin D. Buchloh, Ed., Gerhard Richter: October Files, Massachusetts 2009, p. 126. Chromatically arresting and compositionally complex, Abstraktes Bild is a masterwork from Gerhard Richter’s incredible opus of abstraction - an aesthetic investigation that reached its mature zenith surrounding the moment this work came into being during the mid-1990s. Executed in 1994, Abstraktes Bild stands as the final and most authoritative work in the four-part series numbered 809 in the artist's Catalogue Raisonné. Indeed, the mastery of Abstraktes Bild's painterly form visually outstrips the preceding work in the series, 809-3, a painting that prestigiously resides in the joint collection of the Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland. Monumentally scaled, breathtakingly enveloping and visually resonating in primaries of red, yellow, blue and green, the exuberant cacophony of the present painting positions it firmly within the very highest tier of Richter's Abstracts. The compositional and chromatic power of Abstraktes Bild readily matches those held in the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Philadelphia Museum of Art, as well as the astounding four-part Bach series housed in the Moderna Museet, Stockholm. Delivering an arresting display of seemingly endless variegation and layered painterly process, Abstraktes Bild possesses an aesthetic authority of the very highest calibre within Richter's oeuvre - a status that unassailably earns its position among the most outstanding works by Gerhard Richter ever to have appeared at auction. Embodying the apex and culmination of his overarching pictorial agenda, the abstract works represent the furthest limit in Richter’s lifelong pioneering scrutiny of painting – a trajectory that necessitates consideration to account for the Abstrakte Bilder as Richter’s crowning achievement. By the early 1960s, long since the advent of Marcel Duchamp and Modernism’s declaration of painting’s death, Richter took up the continuing debate head on, foregrounding the apparent obsolescence of painting into an inquiry that would revolutionise and reenergize its problematic practice. In the context of and a reaction to photography, Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism and Pop Art, Richter’s Photo Paintings – the body of work that was to launch him to critical acclaim – instigated a groundbreaking re-examination of painting in the face of technological means of mass production and the glorified pseudo-religiosity of abstract art. By translating artless black and white amateur photographs with indifferent photo-realist veracity onto canvas, Richter looked to the possibility for collusion between the oppositional binary of abstraction and resemblance, in search of a means for painting to objectively say something more than either could individually offer. Immaculately blurred while the paint remains wet, the Photo Paintings rendered explicit a simultaneous interpenetration of and tension between the three-dimensional space captured by the photograph and the flat pictorial space of painting. With these works, Richter bridged the gap between abstract painting and photographic figuration; a turn that at once, via an investigation of photography’s margins, undoes and affirms photography whilst legitimizing painting despite of this. Herein, these works laid the formative ground that would further engender Richter’s systematic negation of painting as the means by which he affirmed its currency. Towards the end of the 1960s, with the Colour Charts and Grey Paintings – Richter’s most pronounced concession to ‘anti-painting’ and Minimalism – the serial and systematic erasure of gesture, artistic agency and privileging of chance compositional structures gave rise to Richter’s movement into pure abstraction from 1972 onwards. While the first of these took the form of abstract paintings based on photographic details of paint strokes, by the early 1990s Richter’s mastery of the squeegee to facilitate a quasi-mechanical palimpsest of layered and scraped down colour, promulgated the possibility of exquisite lyrical painting within distinctly photographic terms. As redolent in the present Abstraktes Bild, the sheen of immaculate colour and endless permutations mimic the aesthetic of a cibachrome print, while a distinctly photographic quality is compounded by the out-of focus consistency in the sweeping accretions of paint. Evoking a blurred, half-seen or remembered image and imploring the same cognitive viewing experience as his Photo works, the hazy coagulation of endlessly scraped pigment forms an extraordinary repost to the canon of abstraction via the photographic, mechanical and the aleatory. The dialectical execution of the Abstrakte Bilder call for a suspension of Richter's own artistic will, as a result the artist starts with a ritualistic and ordered process of preparation: “mixing the colours, finding the right hues, the smell, all these things foster an illusion that this is going to be a wonderful painting” (the artist cited in: ‘I Have Nothing to Say and I’m Saying It: Conversation between Gerhard Richter and Nicolas Serota, Spring 2011’, Exhibition Catalogue, London, Tate Modern, Gerhard Richter: Panorama, 2011, p. 16). Over a protracted period of execution the paintings undergo multiple variations in which each new sweeping accretion of paint brings colour and textural juxtapositions that are reworked until an optimum threshold of harmonious articulation is reached. Within this process grounds of arresting pigment are applied only to be effaced and drawn out by large track-like strokes of the squeegee. Although spontaneous in their lyrical grandeur, these overlaid marks are in fact cerebrally laboured. This complex intellectual, and often frustrating procedure, described by Richter as “a bit of a battle” (Ibid.), is comparable to a convoluted and analytical game of chess, in which Richter takes time to ruminate the situation of each work until finally, in the artist’s own words, “I enter the room and say, Checkmate” (the artist cited in: Michael Kimmelmann, ‘Gerhard Richter: An Artist Beyond Isms’, The New York Times, January 27, 2002, n.p.). Richter holds no presuppositions in the devising of these works, rather it is by, “letting a thing come, rather than creating it – no assertions, constructions, formulations, inventions, ideologies” that Richter looks to “to gain access to all that is genuine, richer, more alive: to what is beyond my understanding” (Gerhard Richter, ‘Notes 1985’ in: Hans-Ulrich Obrist ed., Gerhard Richter: The Daily Practice of Painting, Writings 1962-1993, p. 119). Herein, as formulated by Bridget Pelzer, the Abstracts prove that what cannot be articulated, can be made, shown and seen: “Richter’s painting explores the enigmatic juncture of sense and non-sense. His paintings encircle, enclose the real as that which it is impossible to say: the unrepresentable” (Birgit Pelzer, ‘The Tragic Desire’ in: Benjamin D. Buchloh, Ed., Gerhard Richter: October Files, Massachusetts 2009, p. 118). Here, we would not be mistaken for taking Richter’s abstractions as retroactively analogous with Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, or Yves Klein and their collective dialogue on the sublime transcendental power of pure colour and form. Nonetheless, as Richter points out, these imposing and enveloping works have nothing to do with an intimation of some higher being or the sublime, rather they picture and implicate that which lies outside of and beyond our conceptual faculties. In keeping with the entirely contradictory nature of Richter's production however, this apparent arrest is attended by chaotic discord. As identified by Benjamin Buchloh, the evocation of nothingness and the void is immediately counteracted by the unrelenting complexity and turbulence of Richter’s abstract compositions: "...the ability of colour to generate this emotional, spiritual quality is presented and at the same time negated at all points, surely it's always cancelling itself out. With so many combinations, so many permutational relationships there can't be any harmonious chromatic order, or composition either, because there are no ordered relations left either in the colour system or the spatial system" (Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Ibid., pp. 23-24). What’s more, within the sheer excess of layering and dynamic compositional facture these paintings emit an extraordinary wealth of enigmatic yet recognisable evocation. The incessant erasure and denial of formal resolution induces a reading of phenomenal forms associated with those found in nature. Readily evoking natural experiences such as rain or water erosion, the Abstract works derive their affect from a spontaneous naturalism. Where Richter’s Photo Paintings fall away into abstraction, the Abstrakte Bilder return us, if only elusively, to a reading of figuration. As made explicit by Kaja Silverman, Richter has made claims to paint “like a camera” even when photographic content is absent from his work (the artist cited in: Kaja Silverman, Flesh of My Flesh, California 2009, p. 173). In 1972 Richter explained: “I’m not trying to imitate a photograph… I’m trying to make one. And if I disregard the assumption that a photograph is a piece of paper exposed to light, then I am practicing photography by other means… [T]hose of my paintings that have no photographic source (the abstracts, etc.) are also photographs” (Ibid). In making this analogy with the camera, Richter embraces the fact that perception and the way we view the world today is entirely mediated by the photograph and its technological proliferation. Thus, as outlined by Richter, where the camera “does not apprehend objects, it sees them”, the Abstrakte Bilder elicit the capacity of painting to propagate a true semblance of perception and appearance. To quote Hal Foster: “The semblance that concerns Richter is of a “second nature”… a culture-become-nature bathed in the glow of the media, a semblance permeated with photographic, televisual, and now digital visulalities” (Hal Foster, ‘Semblance According to Gerhard Richter’, in, Benjamin D. Buchloh, Ed., Op. cit., p. 126). Redolent across the endless exposures and variegation of the present work, the presence of crackling, distortive fuzz and slick gelatinous layers of colour as glaring artificial light, Richter's pure non-referential abstraction unmistakably bears the mark of photography. As though in homage to his abstract forbearers Mondrian and Barnett Newman the essential colour palette of Richter's canvas evokes Minimalism's dogmatic restriction to the elemental primaries of red, yellow and blue. Nonetheless, despite paying sophisticated reverence to the history of abstraction, the interference of variegation undercuts a reading of 'cool' detachment. Fundamentally comprised of the primary and additive primary colours of red, yellow, blue and green, this painting thematises the essential components that optically inform human sight and the appearance of the visible world. Invoking the effects of Dan Flavin's isolation of light as his principle material, the colour mixtures brought forth by Richter's endless sweeps of the squeegee invoke similar luminescent effects in paint. The elemental choice of primary pigment and the unanticipated facture of its execution induce an analogy to the RGB colour model - the essential framework through which the three principle light wavelengths (red, green and blue) are manipulated for the sensing of images in electronic systems as well as in traditional photography. Herein, the present work illuminates an encompassing photographic analogy that further underlines the very height of Richter’s intellectual sophistication. Idiosyncratically compatible with the detached, disenchanted mechanical age of contemporary visual culture, Richter’s Abstraktes Bild represents an all-enveloping evocation of a distinctly post-modern semblance. The simultaneous negation and affirmation of contingency, expressivity, detachment, and transcendence comprises an encompassing host of contradictions that posit this painting as a masterpiece of calculated chaos and paradigm of Gerhard Richter’s mature artistic and philosophical achievement. Signed, dated 1994 and numbered 809-4 on the reverse

  • GBRUnited Kingdom
  • 2012-10-12
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Dschungel (Jungle)

“I like the way that the dots in a magnified picture swim and move about. The way that motifs change from recognizable to unrecognizable, the undecided, ambiguous nature of the situation, the way it remains open… Many dots vibrating, swinging, blurring, reappearing: one could think of radio signals, telegraphic images, television come to mind.” (The artist cited in Exh. Cat., New York, Museum of Modern Art, Sigmar Polke: Alibis, 2014, p. 74) “Resolutely ordinary in their subjects, Polke’s paintings from the mid-1960s are instantaneously legible, completely immediate, and uninvolved with the rituals and conventions of the world of art. They hit our consciousness directly, like a small bullet from a silenced gun. In this respect Polke’s work—more than the American pop artists of these years—marks the most complete break with the abstract expressionism that had preceded it, and it reflects most clearly his direct relationship to life as we actually experience it.” (John Caldwell in Exh. Cat., San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Sigmar Polke, 1990, p. 10) Leaguered in fire The wild black promontories of the coast extend Their savage silhouettes; The sun in universal carnage sets, And, halting higher, The motionless storm-clouds mass their sullen threats, Like an advancing mob in sword-points penned, That, balked, yet stands at bay. Mid-zenith hangs the fascinated day In wind-lustrated hollows crystalline, A wan Valkyrie whose wide pinions shine Across the ensanguined ruins of the fray, And in her hand swings high o’erhead, Above the waster of war, The silver torch-light of the evening star Wherewith to search the faces of the dead. Edith Wharton, An Autumn Sunset, 1894 The year 1967 saw a world divided. The Vietnam War raged in the jungles of Southeast Asia, race riots spread across the United States, and the Arab-Israeli conflict erupted in the Six-Day War. Meanwhile, European homes received their first full-color television broadcasts, The Beatles released their eighth record Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and from the surge of hippie counterculture arose the psychedelic Summer of Love in the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco. Amidst a world ravaged by war, a kaleidoscopic proliferation of images promised escape. From within this landscape of ever-shifting topographical frontiers, Sigmar Polke immortalized the horizon. Executed at the start of Polke’s radically inventive and consummately mystifying career, Dschungel from 1967 marks the inception of the artist’s complex investigation into the machinations of image-making, and is quite simply unmatched in its supreme import, chromatic resplendence, and radical evocation of the sublime. Polke’s influential series of Rasterbilder, of which the present work is a leading example, were the first works to position Pop Art in a foreign context, examining the pioneering movement’s critical and often ironic examinations of mass media culture from the perspective of a social sphere that was wholly un-Westernized. In the spectacular nature of its prismatic panorama, Dschungel embodies the concurrent curiosity, wonderment, and trepidation that characterized the post-war view of the world among Polke and his contemporaries, a landscape newly rife with both possibility and danger. Aligning this perspective aesthetically with an ideal beauty as exemplified by the Romantic conception of the Landscape genre, Polke’s masterpiece probes the very mechanics of painting while unraveling the machinations of his surrounding socioeconomic and political climate. Dschungel imparts a magnificent beauty that simmers with portentous undercurrents, vacillating between poles of attraction and suspicion as its rich polychromatic surface ripples before our eyes. If Pop Art probed the saturation of consumer culture within modern society, Germany after World War II was the ideal case-study: a nation impenetrably divided in two, the Eastern bloc was shielded from all capitalist media while West Germany struggled toward economic revitalization amidst wartime devastation. Born to the abysmally dark shadow of Nazism, Polke had lived on both sides of a divided Germany that was the crucible of the Cold War. Polke, who in 1953 at the age of 12 surreptitiously crossed with his family from East Germany to the West, experienced life in the two staunchly oppositional climates on either face of the Iron Curtain. The artist grew up within a climate of severe political instability, devastating poverty, and state repression; his architect father was conscripted to build covert military facilities by the Nazis, the purpose of which he never revealed. The seventh of eight children, Polke and his family fled from the Polish region of Silesia to Soviet-occupied Thuringia in 1945 during the German expulsion following World War II; eight years later, the Polkes escaped Communism under the GDR, settling in Düsseldorf by way of West Berlin. As a teenager growing up in West Germany, the artist bore captive witness to the proliferation of newspapers and magazines rife with images depicting a prosperous, modern nation. Hence Polke knew extremely well the manipulative power of the media and the potential of propaganda. During the late 1950s and early 60s, West Germany promoted what they coined the Wirstchaftwunder—the ‘economic miracle’ supporting the accelerated reconstruction of the nation’s economy—through the printed press, a cheap and infinitely reproducible vehicle for collective nation-building. Commercial printing became the most inconspicuously powerful socializing force shaping this ideological reformation. Reconstruction in West Germany after the fall of the Third Reich, however, was not as prosperous as the media purported. Two years after the war ended, food production stalled at only 51% of what it had been in 1938. While Polke was painting advertisements of nougat-centered chocolate bars as a reflection of the alleged lifestyle of increased affluence and consumption, potatoes still remained a dietary necessity for the majority of the German population. Thus, Polke was highly critical of the mass media imagery adopted by the country as its primary instrument for socioeconomic and political reprogramming. Polke’s early works of the 1960s galvanized not only West Germany, but the entire landscape of post-war painting. Capturing the social acuity that Lichtenstein and Warhol brought to their renderings of everyday commodity culture, Polke infused his with the weight of the German socioeconomic context and history. Appropriating the pictorial shorthand of commercial printing, Polke illustrated the consumer provinciality of West Germany in contrast to the dazzling allure and seductive elegance of his American contemporaries. Following the fall of the Iron Curtain, the media was utilized as an instrument in socializing the populace—circulating resonant images of consumer products seemed to support the presence of the post-war economic miracle. Through this projection of an ideal capitalist society in the pages of the paper, print advertising capitalized on the public’s deepest longings and greatest unfulfilled desires. Indeed, the candies, cake, chocolates, and sausages that dominate Polke’s earliest paintings were not easily obtainable in the Germany of the 1950s and 1960s; Polke uncovers the experience of living with such imagery, but not having the means or the wherewithal to actually access the petit-bourgeois ideal drawn before the people. In the alluring utopia of Dschungel, Polke heightens this sense of the unattainable, as expressed through the commercialization of air travel and the leisure industry. In this sense, Polke embraces the American preoccupation with commercial imagery, but subverts the attraction with an inflected irony concerning the political agenda at the heart of such representations. As Kathy Halbreich described, “Polke’s love-hate relationship with the political and economic power of the United States began here, with an abundance both unattainable and unwanted. Even as the flood of consumer products in the 1950s operated like a narcotic, dulling memories of recent need and longing, there was a chill in the air. Increased prosperity had its own cost, and Germany, like postwar Japan, experienced what Ian Buruma has described as ‘bourgeois conformism… with its worship of the television set, the washing machine, and the refrigerator (‘The Three Sacred Treasures’), its slavish imitation of American culture, its monomaniacal focus on business, and the stuffy hierarchies of the academic and artistic establishments.' ” (Kathy Halbreich in Exh. Cat., New York, Museum of Modern Art, Sigmar Polke: Alibis, 2014, p. 77) The artist turned to the pictorial style of advertising in order to depict the consumer society’s highly prized objects of desire, harnessing the very technical device that promoted and circulated these aspirational images. The artist clearly understood how differently affecting this iconography was to a German reality recently freed from the shackles of oppressive socialism, in stark contrast to the functional impression of these advertising ideals to an American public. The artist’s keen unraveling of the disjuncture inherent in the connections between consumerism and repression informed his best pictures, most notably Dschungel. With the porous phantasmagoria of iridescent dots constituting Dschungel, Polke beckons an instant longing that is quickly thwarted by the impossibility to see clearly, aesthetically capturing the sensation of desire and concomitant absence of fulfillment characteristic to the consumer society of West Germany. In early landmark paintings such as the present work, Polke removed these images from their context and reproduced them in paint, his meticulous technique formally mimicking the raster process that was the only method available for commercial printing until the late 1960s. To create the heightened illusion of tone and spatial depth in print, ink would be dispersed through overlaid screens of variously shaped dots and lines, resulting in a matrix of Benday dots (or “raster-dots”). Using a perforated metal stencil and a spray-gun, Polke applied fine grids of microscopic dots in monochromatic networks atop and next to one another, creating a multi-layered stratification of luminescent color that revels in imprecision. Unlike his black and white Rasterbilder, color reproduction required complex angling of sequentially applied individual layers of color; moiré effects are more common in color printing than in black and white, here exploited by Polke to maximum effect. By positioning the grids of color ‘incorrectly,’ Polke flooded the image with an unfocused, glistening translucency. Observed from up close, these dots appear fragmentary and disjunctive, but coalesce in the mind’s eye to form a unified image. In magnifying the scale of the raster-dots through their transfer to canvas, Polke revealed the covert underlying grid structure of the image. Polke enlarged the mechanically reproduced Benday pattern found in newspaper printing almost to the point of abstraction, breaking down the aesthetic and physical structures of the source image to the point of collapse. By actively disrupting the size and density of the Raster with an experimental hand-painted stratum of screened dots, Polke subtly corroded the cohesiveness and integrity of the image and thus subverted the dominance of the subject. Consequently, and as he continued to do for the rest of his career, Polke established a multi-layered ambiguity here that poses important questions about the nature of image-making, of perception, and of reality. In the 1960s, both Polke and Richter engaged with tourism imagery, providing a significant commentary on the social promise of new forms of leisure experience to the citizens of Germany following the war. For Richter, pyramids and sphinxes, families on motorboats, and loungers on deckchairs represented his concentration on the images produced by the tourist industry, decontextualizing and blurring these images from their original location of consumption on brochure pages. Similarly, the tropical Technicolor palette of Polke’s Dschungel epitomizes the artist’s interest in the leisure trade. Tate curator Mark Godfrey suggested, “Most of the time, instead of actual destinations and iconic sites, [Polke] was interested in the promises made and fantasies produced by the tourist industry and in how to represent and undercut them... to stage escape as something that was being promoted while remaining unattainable.” (Mark Godfrey in Exh. Cat., Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (and travelling), Living with Pop: A Reproduction of Capitalist Realism, 2013, p. 235) With his disorienting raster technique, Polke creates a disjunction between the image of a sweltering paradise and the reality of everyday life, subverting the allure of holiday with its relegation to the aspirational pages of the advertisement. Polke’s interest in the exotic mirrored the utopian aspirations of the German populace recently freed from Communism, whose desires for freedom and discovery were projected onto the seemingly achievable, consumable advertisements of exotic locales. With Dschungel, we enter a Technicolor realm of magic and imagination that shimmers before our eyes while simultaneously corroding by the very instability of the raster dot image. The artist foregrounds the fantasy of the bourgeoisie who could dream of the places they might escape to, but could still not afford to see. As explained by Martin Hentschel, “A whole range of motifs that Polke embraces in his visual world in the sixties seem like collections of finds from reconnaissance missions in petit bourgeois, German living rooms. And it is not by chance that ‘the exotic’ crops up so frequently. This is wholly in keeping with the conservatism of any emergent affluent society which first finds expression within the individual members’ own four walls. In this context the exotic takes on the role of a projection screen. As yet, foreign travel is beyond the means of most people, so the only thing to do is to create a visual ‘idyll’ in one’s own ‘interior space’ by incorporating some touch of foreignness, fleetingly glimpsed in travel brochures.” (Martin Hentschel in Exh. Cat., Bonn, Kunst und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (and travelling), Sigmar Polke: The Three Lies of Painting, 1997, p. 46) If the brilliant image of the tropical sun setting beyond the trees, awash in a sea of prismatic hues, seems to offer us utopia, what Polke does with his signature political skepticism is puncture holes in the very screen of petit-bourgeois projections—in perforating utopia, what we are arguably left with is a lacerating and chromatically brilliant crossfire of flimsy social ideals. It was also in 1967 that Apollo 1—NASA’s first manned expedition into space—exploded into flames during a launch pad test, killing three astronauts on board and temporarily aborting mankind’s idealistic quest to step foot on the moon. In 2003, Polke recalled his first reactions upon moving to the West, and how they came to shape his entire body of work: “When I came to the West I saw many, many things for the first time. But I also saw the prosperity of the West critically. It wasn’t really heaven… This attitude—looking at what is happening from a point of view outside—is still part of my work.” (the artist cited in Exh. Cat., New York, Museum of Modern Art, Sigmar Polke: Alibis, 2014, p. 77) From as early as 1964, the notion of the exotic escape—as symbolized by the recurring motif of the tropical palm tree, the heron, and the unfamiliar romantic other—was periodically explored by the artist, whose position in West Germany afforded him a unique political perspective on the idyll of flight. Dschungel seems to anticipate Polke’s voracious travels of later years to exotic locales like Brazil, Japan, Korea, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, the UAE, and Afghanistan. Like Paul Gauguin, Polke’s fascination with the other stemmed from a lust for paradise coupled with the understanding of a far less alluring reality. Halbreich in fact suggests that, “Polke, of course, was aware that Gauguin’s search for an authentic, uncorrupted Eden ended in disillusion, with the artist both witnessing and participating in the devastating Westernization of this South Seas arcadia. So while Polke was susceptible to the lure of the exotic, his knowing appropriation of Gauguin’s ‘native’ imagery indicates he recognized the perils of colonialist voyeurism, and of his own attempts to disappear entirely into another identity.” (Ibid., p. 85) It was in response to this patently ideological, propagandistic impulse that Polke, along with Gerhard Richter, Manfred Kuttner, and Konrad Lueg, founded the movement of Capitalist Realism in 1963, a sardonic antidote to the state-sponsored Social Realism style of art governing the GDR. The term Capitalist Realism first emerged in May 1963, when Polke, Richter, Kuttner, and Lueg rented a vacant butcher’s shop at Kaiserstrasse 31A and declared the inauguration of German Pop Art, coining the term in the press release for the show. They announced, “For the first time in Germany, we are showing paintings for which such terms as Pop Art, Junk Culture, Imperialist or Capitalist Realism, New Objectivity, Naturalism, German Pop and the like are appropriate.” Five months later, in October 1963, Richter and Lueg staged the event Living with Pop—A Demonstration for Capitalist Realism in the Berges furniture showroom: here, the artists lounged among the store’s wares and dispersed their paintings with the showroom’s stock, disintegrating boundaries between art and industry in the vein of their American Pop counterparts. Pop Art’s investigation of the trivial and commonplace by way of the commodity was inflected by the group with the distinct psychological, cultural, and economic factors specific to the social politics of Germany. The group caught the attention of the young gallerist René Block, who later established Capitalist Realism as the basis of his program. These artists embraced the American obsession with media imagery and their modes of circulation, while investing such iconography with a distinctly chilly irony about the political uses of representation. Polke, Richter, Kuttner, and Lueg first met at the Düsseldorf Kunstakademie, a burgeoning hotbed of artistic experimentation where their professors included such innovative luminaries as Joseph Beuys and Dieter Roth. Beuys, one of the key progenitors of the Fluxus movement in Düsseldorf, grounded his work in concepts of spiritual enlightenment and social philosophies, activating through performance and participation opportunities for utopian thought and discourse. The hugely significant pedagogical presence of Joseph Beuys instituted the understanding of art as the potential facilitator of social and political change, expanding the realm of thought as to what art could mirror and subsequently achieve. After apprenticing for a stained-glass manufacturer, Polke entered the Kunstakademie in 1961, at a time when the influence of modern art was spreading across West Germany as a counterpart to the oppressive collective memory and ideologies that pervaded life under the Third Reich. Polke, Richter, and Kuttner had all recently emigrated from the GDR, arriving in the Bundesrepublik to a deluge of consumerist imagery and bountiful shop-window displays bursting with goods previously unavailable to them. While in the early 1960s, American Pop Art had not yet been exhibited in Germany, the group was well aware of the groundbreaking artistic revolution overseas from the pages of international art journals. In 1964, Pop Art made its way to Europe for the first time when Lichtenstein, Rauschenberg, Johns, Dine, and Oldenburg were all included in the Venice Biennale; Polke and Richter first saw Lichtenstein’s work as reproduced in the pages of Art International as part of a section about Neo-Dada. Polke and his peers drew influence from the movement’s progenitors while defining their sensibilities as profoundly distinct, as expressed in a collective statement: “Pop art recognizes the modern mass media as a genuine cultural phenomenon and turns their attributes, formulations and content through artifice, into art. It thus fundamentally changes the face of modern painting and inaugurates an aesthetic revolution. Pop art has rendered conventional painting—with all its sterility, its isolation—its artificiality, its taboos and its rules—entirely obsolete, and has rapidly achieved international currency and recognition by creating a new view of the world.” (Gerhard Richter, Manfred Kuttner, Konrad Lueg, Sigmar Polke, “Letter to a Newsreel Company,” 29 April 1963) The parallels between Polke and his American Pop Art counterparts such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and James Rosenquist are palpable in their shared appropriation and inherent distrust of widely circulated mass media images. Unlike the glossy, machinelike perfection of Lichtenstein’s uniform, tightly composed pictures, however, Polke compromised the images he reproduced through manipulating the shape and scale of the dots, distorting the matrix structure to erode the resulting image into a ghostly blur, an effect akin to Richter’s most fêted photo-paintings. The strategy of magnifying and arranging dots according to a system of mechanical reproduction is sharpened in Lichtenstein’s images, whereas in Polke’s hands, the system’s effectiveness is entirely corrupted by overlaying dots of different scale and color. Blurred areas of Dschungel reveal a chorus of multicolored dots congealing and overlapping, nearly forfeiting legibility. Polke revealed the very structure of the image’s production, thereby unraveling the codes by which pictorial messages are organized and transmitted. Furthermore, although the perforated imperfections generated in Dschungel evoke the hasty smudges, eerie shadows, and off-key printer errors of Andy Warhol’s silkscreen masterworks, Polke achieved these effects through painstakingly applying the Benday dots manually—at the heart of his picture is the hand of an expertly skilled painter. Like the pointillist paintings of Georges Seurat, whose pictures pulsate with an atmospheric veil of color, Dschungel radiates with ethereal luminosity. However, the brusque simplification of Polke’s primary color palette and corrupted pattern emphasize the technique as a mediating structure. The power endemic to newspaper and published images was broadcast via the schematic grids of Raster dots. In formally breaking down the grids and undermining the cohesiveness of the picture, Polke successfully subverted the authority of the image, interrogating the objective truth it purportedly carried. Dschungel obliterates the distinction between abstraction and figuration, the dots rippling and humming loudly before the viewer’s eye. Meanwhile, from afar a generic image of an exotic landscape surges through the pointillist screen. The painting rejects depth in favor of a surface that comes alive by perpetually shifting between motion and stasis, an effect that emphasizes the artifice of the image and its ceaseless potentiality for both reproduction and manipulation. The artist engaged the raster-dot technique as a means, in his own words, “to treat the whole surface in the same way—like Cézanne—and to treat all subjects in the same way: a horse, a woman, an ass, etc.” (Margit Rowell in Exh. Cat., New York, Museum of Modern Art, Sigmar Polke Works on Paper 1963-1974, 1999, p. 16) Dschungel brilliantly deconstructs the image into its constituent parts, highlighting the viewer as the ultimate endpoint at which pictures are optically fused, subsequently decoded, and translated to acquire their ideological impact. Among the first, foundational group of paintings utilizing Polke’s iconic raster-dot technique, and one of a small number of multi-colored examples, Dschungel was executed at a moment when the artist was still experimenting with the singular form that he would revisit regularly in the body of exceedingly diverse, masterpieces that he produced. This masterpiece exemplifies the spirit of radical experimentation and renewed complexity that Polke pursued over the span of his storied career, offering an inimitable glimpse into the seminal stages of the development of the artist’s painterly lexicon. As Peter Schjeldahl admiringly noted, “To learn more and more about him, it has sometimes seemed to me, is to know less and less. His art is like Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland rabbit hole, entrance to a realm of spiraling perplexities, one of which is his uncanny relation to American art, first as a provincial follower and later as a seminal influence.” (Peter Schjeldahl, "The Daemon and Sigmar Polke" in Exh. Cat., San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Art, Sigmar Polke, 1990-1991, p. 17)

  • USAUSA
  • 2015-05-12
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One Dollar Bill (Silver Certificate)

"I like money on the wall" – Andy Warhol's infamous statement from 1975 gives verbal expression to a dialogue initiated thirteen years previously in 1962 (Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (from A to B and Back Again), Orlando 1975, p. 133). During this year Warhol would paint the very first in what would become a lineage of canvases depicting the ultimate symbol of status and wealth: money. This painting is One Dollar Bill (Silver Certificate). Unimpeachably important, it signifies the very foundation upon which Warhol forged his career, the one painting to which Warhol’s fascination with consumption, wealth, celebrity, and glamour is rooted. Indeed, the iconographic power of the American dollar bill inhabits the symbolic core of Warhol’s radical Pop dialectic. Signalling Warhol’s full transition to fine art superstar, One Dollar Bill (Silver Certificate) ranks amongst the most important works from his unparalleled artistic legacy. Executed in the pivotal year of 1962, One Dollar Bill (Silver Certificate) is completely unique and signals the dawn of a new era for Andy Warhol, located as it is at the threshold of his experimentation with mechanical processes of image making. Herein, not only is this the very first dollar painting, it is the only one to have been painted by hand, and joins those other early hand-painted masterpieces that announce his arrival as a cultural force. Created alongside the breakthrough Ferus Gallery Campbell Soup Can paintings of 1962 – the artist's first solo exhibition and first use of serial repetition – One Dollar Bill (Silver Certificate) belongs to an elite pantheon of twentieth-century masterpieces and provides an historically important expression of the seductive power and symbolic potency of the American dollar. The Silver Certificate was the original one-dollar bill and had been used as official legal tender from 1878 until 1963. Monumentalised by Warhol on an arresting scale it bears the markings and declarations that constitute American history. Magnifying its intricate design and statutory affirmations into a consummate painterly transcription, Warhol demarcates its undulating form with thin, silver lines and bold definition. Severe contrasts and a dark field of shadow along the top edge imbue One Dollar Bill (Silver Certificate) with graphic depth. Similar to the ripped labels that peel and crumple away from the cylindrical surfaces in the Campbell Soup Can paintings (catalogue raisonné numbers 86–102), this shadow implies the three-dimensionality of the original bill – a concession to verisimilitude that would soon be ironed out with his discovery of the silkscreen method. Aligned with Warhol’s early paintings, the present work’s composition was achieved by hand tracing a photographic projection onto canvas. The photographic source was taken from a series of images showing dollar bills in varying arrangements. Taken by Warhol’s close friend Edward Wallowitch at the artist’s behest, the original contact sheet reveals three one-dollar bills in a triangular configuration; Warhol cropped and inverted this image to achieve his final composition. Although the present work was the only painting created, Wallowitch’s contact sheet was used as the source for a multitude of other drawings by the artist. Following Wallowitch’s photographic source, these drawings depict dollar bills arranged in various groupings and shapes, tied in a roll, torn in half, ripped and crumpled, as well as in combination with Campbell’s Soup cans. This unique union of Warhol’s most iconic subjects was aptly described by Allison Unruh as a “Pop primal scene” (Allison Unruh, ‘Signs of Desire: Warhol’s Depictions of Dollars’, in: Exhibition Catalogue, Indianapolis, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Andy Warhol Enterprises, 2010-11, p. 138). Warhol’s unconventional treatment of the dollar bill in this critical series of drawings concurred with his idiosyncratic approach to currency as something to be valued and celebrated, but also handled in a casual, nonchalant way on a day to day basis. As the artist explained: “The best way I like to carry money, actually, is messily. Crumpled wads. A paper bag is good” (Andy Warhol, op cit., Orlando 1975, p. 130). Interestingly Warhol mostly painted bills of small denominations. Similar to the way he painted Campbell’s Soup for its classless and everyman status – Arthur C. Danto refers to this Warholian subject as “the democratic soup, the soup of the people” – he depicts bills that have been owned, handled and cherished by ordinary people, the general masses with whom Warhol, the democratic everyman, aligned himself (Arthur C. Danto, ‘Andy Warhol and the Love of $$$$$’, in: Exhibition Catalogue, Beverly Hills, Gagosian Gallery, Andy Warhol: $, 1997, p. 8). On the other hand, Warhol luxuriated in the potential of money and the glamour and wealth that it promised. Above the image of George Washington bold shaded lettering delineates the heading “United States of America”, whilst underneath the certificate's function is defined, clearly stating the legal mandate “one silver dollar payable to the bearer on demand”. Herein the inscription and title of the work underpins Warhol’s ongoing appropriation and evocation of precious metal in his work. Having first introduced gold leaf into his shoe drawings of the 1950s, gold and silver played an important part in his work: from the mesmeric environment of the artist’s silver-foiled Factory, his installation of Silver Clouds at the Leo Castelli Gallery in 1966, through to his Gold Marilyn Monroe of 1962 and the 1963 series of silver Liz and Elvis’. Of the latter Warhol used a simulacrum of precious metal as tribute to the iconic status of 1950s silver screen idols. Indeed, very much attuned to the way Warhol valorised icons of a by-gone era, the Silver Certificate was on the verge of obsolescence. Warhol’s immortalisation of soon-to-be ‘old money’ signalled an important economic change, in which the backing of American legal tender was no longer linked to precious metal, but instead prescribed an economy centred on exchange value rather than industrial production. This transition was seminal in achieving the systems of capitalist exchange that epitomised the hyper-consumerist society, which Warhol so enthusiastically supported. Warhol had previously introduced the theme of money and the American dollar in a number of his commissioned illustrations and early drawings. For the 1954 issue of Dance Magazine for example, Warhol produced a commercial illustration depicting a sack of gold with several coins marked either with loosely sketched dollar signs, the number twenty, or miniature portraits, pouring from it. For a Charles of the Ritz face powder advertisement the artist portrayed a female face on a coin and marked it with the inscription “liberty”, playfully applying the notion of freedom to consumer culture. Moreover, a humorous drawing from around 1957 depicts a tree of money, with dollar bills hanging off the branches instead of leaves. Considering the fact that Warhol’s first corporate entity was founded that same year, his depiction of a tree sprouting money was a pertinent visualisation of his artistic and entrepreneurial ambition. These early illustrations and drawings not only prelude Warhol's choice of subject matter, but introduced aesthetic tendencies and techniques that would inspire several of the artist's early paintings of the 1960s. In his seminal essay for the Warhol retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1989 Benjamin H. D. Buchloh highlights the significance and stylistic influence that Warhol’s commercial illustrations from the 1950s had on his subsequent artistic output: “… a more extensive study of Warhol’s advertisement design would suggest that the key features of his work of the early 1960s are prefigured in the refined arsenal and manual competence of the graphic designer: extreme close-up fragments and details, stark graphic contrast and silhouetting of forms, schematic simplification, and, most important, of course, rigorous serial compositions” (Benjamin H. D. Buchloh,  ‘Andy Warhol’s One-Dimensional Art, in: Exhibition Catalogue, New York, Museum of Modern Art, Andy Warhol: A Retrospective, 1989, pp. 42-44). In particular, Warhol's appropriation and manipulation of photographic source material was a formative technique that furnished his transition from illustrator to fine artist. At the time his invalidation of free-hand drawing was met with disapproval, however, in his transition into the realm of fine art, his inventive use of the photographic medium was an effectual technique that allowed him to achieve the speed and efficiency of output that concurred with the commercial subject matter of his works. As one of the salient examples of this initial adaptation of the tracing method for his fine art practice One Dollar Bill (Silver Certificate) was thus the early harbinger of an expedient technique that preluded the silkscreen process, which would define the rest of Warhol’s oeuvre. Warhol’s deliberation upon the thematic potential of the dollar as a subject coincided with the post-war boom in America and the dollar's rapidly increasing omnipotence as international currency. Looking back at this period in American history Germano Celant considered the signs and symbols endemic at that time: “What quasi-metaphysical entity, having risen to the level of absolute value, could present itself as omnipotent and omnipresent? ... Something unreal that had invaded the whole society, transforming itself into quantity and monumentality?” (Germano Celant in: Exhibition Catalogue, Monaco, Grimaldi Forum, SuperWarhol, 2003, p. 3). For Celant the answer to this question lay in Warhol’s pertinent choice of subject matter. He explained: “In 1960 Warhol identified this thing in the green bill of the American dollar, with its motto ‘In God we Trust’, in denominations of one and two dollars. It was an object liberated from its value, in favour of its function: a technical medium conveying a modality of existence in simulacra, an element transcending the functionality of need and assuming the meaning of economic overdetermination in symbolic exchange” (Germano Celant quoted in: ibid., p. 3). Identifying the American dollar as a leitmotif of American culture, Warhol famously declared that: “Americans are not so interested in selling. What they really like to do is buy” (Andy Warhol, op cit., Orlando 1975, p. 229). The ultimate symbol of the American Dream, the dollar represented not just status and wealth, but also hope and desire. Without parallel in its internationalism and potent iconography, it stood, and still stands, as the archetypal symbol for the systems of exchange that have shaped and moulded our turbo-Capitalist era. Created at the very crux of the artist’s transition from commercial illustration to the realm of fine art, One Dollar Bill (Silver Certificate) is heralded as the genesis of one of Warhol’s most important artistic obsessions: money. Monumental in scale and prodigious in scope, it stands as an astute allegory of its time and is truly without parallel within the salient artistic accomplishments of Andy Warhol's oeuvre.

  • GBRUnited Kingdom
  • 2015-07-01
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