Lot 3
  • 3

Dan Colen

100,000 - 150,000 GBP
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Dan Colen
  • Clams Casino
  • signed, titled and dated 2010 on the overlap
  • chewing gum on canvas
  • 121.8 by 94cm.
  • 48 by 37in.


Gagosian Gallery, London
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate, although the overall tonalities are deeper and richer in the original. Condition: This work is in very good condition.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Epitomising the aesthetic appeal of Dan Colen’s innovative ‘gum paintings,’ Clams Casino from 2010 broadcasts the artist’s pioneering invention of new media and compelling visual flair. Comprising a panoply of rich and often tropical tones applied in successively layered films, swoops, and globs of gum, Clams Casino is among Colen’s most accomplished gum paintings to date.

Dan Colen’s groundbreaking canvases, sculptures, and installations gained renown in the mid-2000s for their edgy and subcultural ethos. He rose to prominence among the informally-titled ‘Bowery School’, a group of artists with studios in New York’s Lower East Side comprising contemporaries Nate Lowman, Ryan McGinley, Agathe Snow, Hanna Linden, and Dash Snow (who died in 2009), among others. A social network of young, hard-living, and counter-cultural artists, the Bowery School sought inspiration in everyday life and ephemeral materials, while deliberately sidestepping the strain of New York appropriation art dominant from Marcel Duchamp to Richard Prince. Irony and the conceptual challenges of the readymade or Pop object are not the backbone of Colen’s artistic practice. Rather, his aesthetic emerges directly from the visual and tactile environments of urban and suburban landscapes, a sensibility that finds its ultimate expression in gum paintings of exceptional quality such as Clams Casino.  

Colen has described how chewing gum smeared onto the canvas is eye-catching because of its indexical nature, which conveys “evidence of presence” (quoted in: Dan Colen Interviewed in the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art 18 January 2011, Astrup Fearnley Museum, video). Gum as a medium first piqued Colen’s imagination when he produced large papier-mâché boulder sculptures that featured acrylic paint smeared in emulation of discarded gum. Installed together, as they were at the Whitney Biennial of 2006, these sculptures recreate environments sheltering secret hideouts and places of assembly. For Colen, pieces of gum are like clues dotting locations “in the woods, by the train tracks, in sewer ditches -where teenagers would congregate to get drunk, smoke weed, talk about the universe, and make out” (the artist interviewed by Amy Kellner in: ‘Suck on This: Dan Colen Chews our Ears Off About His Gum Paintings (Get it?)’, Vice Magazine, Vol. 15, No. 1, January 2008). They also commemorate more minute and fleeting transgressions carried out in public view, as when gum is hidden under a table at a bar or put on the wall of a city street. Once Colen decided to isolate the gum and devote entire paintings to this substance, he “fell in love with them immediately” (the artist quoted in: Amy Kellner, Op. cit.).

At first, Colen manually chewed the gum, exhaustively searching for new brands and flavours to diversify his range of colours. Subsequently, Colen devised a technique of heating the gum, which allows him to blend new tones and achieve lower viscocities. Earlier gum paintings are thus characterised by dottings of individual pieces stuck onto the canvas, whereas later works like Clams Casino show a succession of thickly applied layers, with each ‘piece’ of gum stretched and manipulated into swirls and swathes of differentiated shades. The aesthetic parallels with New York’s historical moment of artistic ascendency - the reign of Abstract Expressionism - are obvious. In its textural complexity and densely filled surface, Clams Casino has transitioned from being a mere ‘index of presence’ into a formal artistic experiment in its own right. The bodily act of chewing may also recall (albeit wryly updated to suit Colen’s own, laissez-faire generational outlook) Pollock’s legendary emphasis on the physical nature of painting production.

Clams Casino, the title of the present work, popularly denotes a Rhode Island recipe for clams on the half-shell and - perhaps more significantly - the moniker of a New Jersey hip-hop producer hailing from Colen’s home state. The artist may have created this painting in homage to the talent of a friend and emerging musician; in 2011, Clams Casino released his Instrumental Mixtape to wide critical acclaim from avant-garde and mainstream music culture. Admired for his ability to deftly sample and remix varied sources into harmonious and vivid layerings, Clams Casino embodies Colen’s fascination with urban life and the buildup of indexical signs that scatter it. Recreating this archaeology of presence in his own thickly layered gum painting, Colen affirms his connection to the culture of the street.