Gavin Brown's Enterprise, New York
Sale: Christie's, New York, Contemporary, 17 November 1999, Lot 124
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner
"I started with very modest homes, like cabins.... And then I moved up the line. I became more interested in what buildings represent.... That led to making paintings like Bob's House which was based on Robert Motherwell's house. (I had found a picture of his Cherokee parked in the snow in front of it.) The house seemed like an odd place to be making the paintings he made inside it. So I painted the outside."
The artist cited in 'Kitty Scott in conversation with Peter Doig', Adrian Searle, et al., Peter Doig, New York 2007, p. 16
Painted the year after Doig had been awarded the prestigious John Moores Contemporary Painting Prize, Bob's House belongs to an important series of snowscapes that took their inspiration from the wintry existence of his Canadian childhood and upon which he established his international reputation. This work depicts the house of Robert Motherwell, the enormously influential Abstract Expressionist, and stands as something of an elegiac paean to this prolific protagonist of the New York school who had died three years previously. Buildings are tremendously significant in Doig's output, often working as substitutes for their inhabitants, invested with intense character, and here the implicitly empty house emblematises presence through absence. Fragile, loose and lyrical, the juxtaposed blizzard of brush marks mediates between abstraction and figuration and points to a diverse range of painting precedent. There is an acute dramatic tension between the infinite variety of the flurried, drifting forms and their convergence into a cohesive single image. While the dispersion of Pollock-like splashes flicked across the foreground is enhanced by the sumptuous marks crystallised into its surface, the brilliant red skeletal tree acts as stabilising architecture to the eerily frozen silence of the landscape.
Illuminated with magical realism, Bob's House is coloured with the unsettling anticipation of a horror film in which seemingly banal, everyday subjects are invested with a feeling of expectation and unseen drama. Celebrated for his investigation into the formal and thematic possibilities of oil painting in a media-saturated age, Bob's House exemplifies why Peter Doig is amongst the most influential artists of the present day.
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