Since 2001, Quaytman has organised her distinctive oeuvre in the linguistic classification of chapters, which creates an understanding for each work in relation to the other works, like words in sentences. Each exhibition displays a chapter that consists of a series of individual works that specifically engage with each other, as well as the site-specificities of their immediate environment. The chapter of which the present work is part was initially exhibited at The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, and explicitly engages the history of this institution: in several works from this chapter, including Exhibition Guide, Chapter 15 (ICA Archive 5, Art for Corporations), Quaytman has appropriated archival photographs of historical exhibitions at the ICA, in this case Corporations Collect that was on view in 1965 and included works by Louise Nevelson, Alfred Jensen, Jean-Paul Riopelle and Jose de Rivera.
For this specific chapter, Quaytman worked around three themes that provided a critical self-reflexivity not only towards her own work, but to the context in which art is exhibited and understood in an institutional manner; namely Painting, Picture and Anterior. The first category refers to the material concerns of her work, which engages explicitly with painterly traditions but often through photographic images (in the present work, the image is silkscreened on top of a layer of gesso – a centuries old medium made with rabbit skin glue), whilst Picture and Anterior respectively refer to the content and context of each work. In Exhibition Guide, Chapter 15 (ICA Archive 5, Art for Corporations), Quaytman evokes not only her subtle dialogue with material traditions, but also addresses the display and presentation of art, including her own work, in an institutional setting. This striking self-reflective attitude towards substance, content and context sums up the strengths of R.H. Quaytman’s original practice, and makes the present work an extremely powerful example of her engaging and inventive paintings.
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