Lot 189
  • 189

Richard Artschwager

500,000 - 700,000 USD
905,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Richard Artschwager
  • Chandelier II
  • signed, titled and dated 1976 on the reverse of the left panel
  • acrylic on celotex in artist's frames, in 4 parts
  • Each Framed: 95 1/2 by 27 3/4 in. 242.6 by 70.5 cm.


Leo Castelli Gallery, New York (LC#250)
Texas Gallery, Houston
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 1977


Buffalo, Albright-Knox Art Gallery; Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania, Institute of Contemporary Art; La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Arts; Houston, Contemporary Arts Museum, Richard Artschwager's Themes, July 1979 - March 1980, pp. 82-83, illustrated
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art; Madrid, Palacio de Valazquez; Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou; Düsseldorf, Städtische Kunsthalle, Richard Artschwager, January - April 1988, cat. no. 83C

Catalogue Note

Chandelier II is a seminal example of Richard Artschwager’s large-scale celotex paintings and demonstrates the way in which the artist explored the challenge of enlargement as his painterly field expanded onto multi-panel constructions. In the early 1960s, Artschwager chose to work with a grisaille palette of white, blacks and grays and a celotex board. These formal elements served to de-materialize his image to the point of allowing multiple and shifting readings when applied to the wavy and patterned surface of celotex, which had its own intrinsic visual activity. In the celotex paintings, Artschwager drew the image on the board, highlighting it in white, followed by a thin coat of poured black acrylic, which would adhere to or fill in the textured surface. He would then modulate the tones by hand to heighten or suppress the image details, obviating any precise definition.

As Jean-Christophe Ammann wrote in regard to Artschwager’s monochromatic works, “Artschwager deployed a single color as an object to be perceived specifically, concealing within itself the possibility of making stages of reality visible within the presentation field. Thus for example there is no distinction between a ‘Baroque’ interior and a fabric pattern, because the images tend to emerge - though perhaps not quite randomly – rather than having been created with a particular intention regarding their significance” (Exh. Cat., Domaine de Kerguéhennec, Centre d’art Contemporain, Richard Artschwager, 2003, pp. 35-36). Within these celotex canvases, visual fluidity rather than precise illusionism or representation was Artschwager’s objective, and by the late 1960s and early 1970s, the artist was assured enough to expand his aesthetic practice to a larger scale and more complex imagery. His chosen subject matter was the domestic interior, devoid of human presence but emblematic of the human need for order. Artschwager began to select more grandiose subjects of elaborate interiors as seen in The New York Times Sunday magazine, thus introducing the subject of bourgeois style whether Baroque or Modernist.

In the present work, the view is segmented into four equal panels, in which the object of the chandelier is interrupted between each canvas. Here, Artschwager experiments with linear perspective as details including the picture frame, illustrated on the bottom left corner, are repeated in the subsequent panel. The ceiling fixture supporting the chandelier seen on the upper right is also imitated and expanded upon on the inner panel, dislocating the perception as to qualify the separation. Deftly described by Ammann,“Just as one’s eyes explore and feel their way over the surface like a scanner, the image grows from the outside inwards and not from the inside outwards.” (Ibid, pp. 35-36) As the chandelier takes on the central role in the composition, the image, for Artschwager, becomes a conceptual exercise rather than an aesthetic representation. Thus, Artschwager’s paintings become an arena for challenging illusionist space and representational art.