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PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED AMERICAN COLLECTION

Mark Grotjahn
UNTITLED (PURE CRIMSON RED BUTTERFLY 818)
ACCÉDER AU LOT
4

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED AMERICAN COLLECTION

Mark Grotjahn
UNTITLED (PURE CRIMSON RED BUTTERFLY 818)
ACCÉDER AU LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
Londres

Mark Grotjahn
B. 1968
UNTITLED (PURE CRIMSON RED BUTTERFLY 818)
signed, dated Oct 2009 and variously inscribed on the reverse
coloured pencil on paper
80 by 57.1 cm. 31 1/2 by 22 1/2 in.
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Provenance

Anton Kern Gallery, New York

Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2009

Description

A resplendent cacophony of rich crimsons that enchant with their mesmeric beauty, Untitled (Pure Crimson Red Butterfly 818) is a vibrant and powerful example of the artist's iconic Butterfly paintings. Since the series' conception in 1997, Grotjahn has innovatively employed the butterfly motif as a means to investigate Renaissance perspectival techniques with dual and multiple vanishing points. In his pioneering works on paper and paintings, the central vanishing point becomes the body of the butterfly out of which streaming coloured wings radiate. Enticing the viewer into the very heart of this dizzying crimson vortex, the dichotomy of line and colour in the present work enacts an enthralling perceptual experience that masterfully oscillates between the tenets of flatness promoted by early Modernist painting and the vertiginous intensity of Op art. Indeed, as curator Michael Ned Holte has noted, "The butterfly has become to Mark Grotjahn what the target is to Kenneth Noland, the zip was to Barnett Newman, and the colour white is to Robert Ryman. Grotjahn's abstracted geometric figure is suitably elusive. In fact, the more familiar it becomes, the more he refines its ability to surprise and, perhaps paradoxically, takes it further away from actual butterflyness" (Michael Ned Holte, 'Mark Grotjahn', Artforum, November 2005, p. 259).

To create the riveting surfaces of the present work, and the Butterfly series as a wider whole, Grotjahn employs a fastidious system of production. In Untitled (Pure Crimson Red Butterfly 818), the artist has devised a rigorous architectural schema of diagonal lines, which beam from an off-kilter vertical axis that bisects the opulent rouge ground. The resulting rich crimson orthogonals recede into differing vanishing points effecting a hypnotically complex and intriguing composition. To create such a spatially complex work, Grotjahn followed a rigorous process whereby he first methodically mapped out the triangular radii in pencil before progressing on to fill in the contours, always working from left to right and top to bottom to form solidly opaque planar segments. Grotjahn's systematic ritual for laying down the butterfly form is in contrast to the arbitrary process by which the aberrant markings appear in the open expanse of his drawings: he works on smaller drawings placed on top of the paper, allowing his hand to stray off their edges. In this way, Grotjahn adds a diaristic layer of marks, many of which are completely obscured when the larger drawing is complete. In the present work Grotjahn's iconic composition of complex, skewed angles and radiant colour both challenges and expands upon the paradigms of classical and Modernist painting. The hypnotic, dizzying creation that is Untitled (Pure Crimson Red Butterfly 818) is flamboyant and electric yet deliberately enigmatic at the same time.

Commencing in the late 1990s in the Bay City area of San Francisco and Los Angeles, Grotjahn's dynamic practice was born from the humble origins of sign making. Conceptually inspired by unusual graphics and storefront signs discovered around the city, he would replicate them and present them to the stores' owners. In turn, he would trade these handmade copies with the shop owners in exchange for the original signage, which Grotjahn then exhibited as his own. In 1998, his practice evolved into conceptual perspectival studies with two or more vanishing points, a technique that playfully subverts the canonised Renaissance understanding of one-point perspective. As Grotjahn recalls: "I started to think about why I got into art in the first place. I was always interested in line and colour. I wanted to find a motif that I could experiment with for a while. I did a group of drawings over a period of six to twelve months. The drawing that I chose was one that resembled the three-tier perspective, and that is what I went with" (Mark Grotjahn in conversation with Arcy Douglass, Portland Art, 6 October 2010, online). Taking this initial concept one step further, in the present work Grotjahn masterfully tilts the central axis ninety degrees, severing any ties to landscape painting that the horizontal orientation may have suggested. Methodical and exacting, Untitled (Pure Crimson Red Butterfly 818) brilliantly summarises the artist's revolutionary use of perspective and geometric manipulations of space.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
Londres