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Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Day Auction

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Luis Feito
B. 1929
301-M-O
signed; signed and titled on the reverse 
oil and sand on canvas
114.5 by 147cm.; 45 1/8 by 57 7/8 in.
Executed in 1960.
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Provenance

Private Collection, Europe
Sale: Sala de Subastas Retiro, Madrid, Subasta Extraordinaria Octubre 2011, 5 October 2011, Lot 458
Private Collection, Madrid
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner

Catalogue Note

301-M-O from 1960 is archetypal of Luis Feito’s compositions of the late 1950s and early 1960s. After briefly exploring figuration in early stages of his career, Feito discovered Cubism, which ultimately led him to develop his unique abstract style. The artist’s interest in light and texture has been a constant throughout his career and impregnates his canvases, which range from ethereal compositions where his deft use of materials such as sand recalls misty seascapes, to striking designs that resemble colourful sunsets. Indeed, poet Lasse Söderberg once described Feito’s canvases as “a world evoking the scorched highlands of Spain, the limestone walls and the apparently lifeless villages” (Lasse Söderberg quoted in: Juan Manuel Bonet, Catálogo del Museo de Arte Abstracto Español (Fundación Juan March), online resource).

In 301-M-O Feito used a subdued palette of greys that contrast starkly with the dark brown and black, highly textured brushstrokes towards the lower edge of the composition. Having relocated to Paris in 1955, at the time the present work was executed the painter’s oeuvre was already highly regarded internationally; a group of his paintings were shown as part of the Spanish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale of 1960 and that same year art critic and curator Frank O’Hara included his work in the widely acclaimed exhibition New Spanish Painting and Sculpture that opened at the Museum of Modern Art and later toured the United States. His move to Paris, however, did not prevent the artist of maintaining strong ties with the artistic scene in his home country, and in 1957 he was amongst the founding members of the Madrid-based group El Paso. The association was short-lived, as the group dissolved in 1960, but its components (including Manolo Millares, Antonio Saura and Martín Chirino) shared the desire to break with the status of the art world in Spain at the time and a profound interest in the currents that were developing in Paris and New York, especially in Art Informel and Abstract Expressionism. Thus, Feito, along with the rest of the group’s components, quickly assimilated the seemingly unconventional use of dirt and other unorthodox materials mixed with paint, and the gestural markings characteristic of these movements to create their own, individual styles. A further important influence for the Spanish painter was Mark Rothko, with whom he shared a deep interest in form and colour.

With its subtle nuances in colour, and the artist’s skilful use of his brushes and materials to create contrasting surfaces on the picture plane, 301-M-O can be considered an exquisite expression of the artist’s main concerns, an outstanding example of Feito’s output of the 1960s.

Contemporary Art Day Auction

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London