S otheby's is honoured to present "A Dialogue with Wood: Works from an Important Private Collection", which features works made of wood by leading contemporary artists including Günther Uecker, Imi Knoebel, Ai Weiwei, Stephan Balkenhol and K.O.S. and Tim Rollins. Each of the works in this curated selection feature wood as their core medium, showcasing the incredible diversity and artistic expression that can be achieved in this medium. As an hommage to the importance and relevance of wood in art, this carefully assembled collection is both coherent yet eclectic in its diverse approach to collecting. The collection is led by a powerful wooden nail sculpture by Günther Uecker offered in the Modernités auction on 26 October and followed by a selected group of works offered in the Contemporary Art Vente du Jour from November 23 to December 3.
It is rare to discover collections assembled by private individuals which so stringently seek to demonstrate the richness of a specific medium. Here, we are presented with a unique collection assembled over decades that masterfully reveals the importance of wood, incorporating the medium's art historical importance and transposing it into a contemporary vision.
Not only does the handling and processing of wood form an essential foundation of human culture and civilization, it is also an extremely powerful medium for artists as demonstrated in the presented selection of works. Whether used for sculpture, engraving, painting, design or architecture, wood offers new realms for visual exploration and a diverse range of creative outcomes, which are often unexpected due to the raw materiality and idiosyncratic surfaces of the medium itself.
Thanks to the variety of forms in which this medium can flourish, it has exceeded the limits of traditional painting and thus played a major role in the emancipation of artistic expression.When used as a painted surface, wood allows to reveal a subtle use of colour and a refined vocabulary of forms, as for example demonstrated by Imi Knoebel's Karoline Portrait II from 1995. When sculpted and combined with additional techniques, it creates a genuine interaction with space, light and shadow.
The creations of Günther Uecker provide a key example of this process: by incorporating nails in his works, the artist adds a sculptural aspect and endows each work with a powerful yet poetic spirit, oscillating between order and chaos, between raw and refined.
At times delicate and intimate, at other instants highly violent and dynamic, wood is an incredibly versatile and characteristically powerful medium. The great number of manipulations, meanings as well as possibilities of artistic expression that underlie works made of wood reveal not only the technical expertise required to produce them, but also - and perhaps even more than any other material - the urge and immediacy to create.