Lot 7
  • 7

John Chamberlain

1,800,000 - 2,200,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • John Chamberlain
  • CA-D'ORO
  • painted steel


Leo Castelli Gallery, New York (LC# 161)
Irving and Natalie Forman, Chicago and Santa Fe (acquired from the above in 1966)
Daniel Weinberg Gallery, Los Angeles
Acquired by the present owners from the above in April 1988


Dallas, Museum of Fine Arts, 20th Century Sculpture, May - June 1965


Julie Sylvester, John Chamberlain: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculptures 1954 - 1985, New York, 1986, cat. no. 183, p. 80, illustrated and p. 34-35, illustrated in color (four different views)

Catalogue Note

John Chamberlain's crushed metal structures have long been recognized as a significant contribution to sculpture in the 20th century.  In the early 1960s, the found object gained primacy in his work as he manipulated derelict appliances and automobile parts into his own forms with simplicity and grandeur. By adding the third dimension and brighter colors to the spontaneity of the Abstract Expressionist painters, Chamberlain liberated sculpture from the tradition of cast metal or sculpted stone. Similar to the New York School painters, Chamberlain never envisioned the end result at the beginning of a work. However, he alone among artists of the time brought this practice to sculpture.

Ca- d'Oro from 1964 is an excellent example of the artist's work from this seminal decade.  Chamberlain's use of volume and color, increasingly invited the viewer to observe the sculpture in the round.  The hard automotive finish and bold colors of Ca-d'Oro  - yellow, purple, electric blue, and cherry red - showcase the crushed edges and open voids of the work.  In works from the 1960s, he often sprayed as many as 100 coats of automotive lacquer on the elements to give them a luscious, exaggerated visual effect.  Diane Waldman noted, "Chamberlain was able to take advantage of a readymade situation which the automobile offered to circumvent the persistent problem posed by polychrome sculpture – that color appears to be an additive rather than an inherent feature of the work." (Exh. Cat., New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, John Chamberlain: a Retrospective Exhibition, 1971, p. 9).  Although his process may appear random, Chamberlain's sculptures possess a clear unity and Ca-d'Oro is a particularly cohesive and well balanced example of sharp angles and sinuous folds that, Klaus Kertess noted, ``expands, contracts, constricts and expels in a constantly changing and revolving multiplicity of actions and colored volumes''. With Ca-d'Oro, Chamberlain `` turned the container into the contained - optically sumptuous, tactilely repellent.'' (Julie Sylvester, John Chamberlain: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculptures 1954 - 1985, New York, 1986, p. 34).

The present work shares its name with the renowned Ca' d'Oro (Palazzo Santa Sofia) on the Grand Canal in Venice.  The famed "golden house"  at one time had a facade of ornate gilt and polychrome decoration. Ca- d'Oro's strong colors and reflective surface brilliantly shimmer as if in the afternoon light on the Grand Canal. Chamberlain was also a punster and a rapid pronounciation of the title is whimsically close to ``car door''.