Lot 14
  • 14

John Chamberlain

Estimate
2,000,000 - 3,000,000 USD
Sold
4,645,000 USD
bidding is closed

Description

  • John Chamberlain
  • Candy Andy
  • painted and chromium-plated steel

Provenance

Mario Yrisarry, New York
The Lone Star Foundation, Inc., New York (acquired from the above in April 1977)
Acquired by the present owner from the above in August 1980

Exhibited

Cologne, Galerie Heiner Friedrich, November 1979 - March 1980 
Houston, The Menil Collection, Six Artists, May - September 1992

Literature

Julie Sylvester, ed., John Chamberlain: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculpture 1954 – 1985, New York, 1986, cat. no. 153, p. 74, illustrated

Catalogue Note

In a career that spanned over fifty years, John Chamberlain created a body of work that brilliantly captures the artist’s uncompromisingly unique vision. As he coaxed poetically complex and intertwined forms out of his chosen materials, Chamberlain’s distinctive brand of sculpture came to stand alone in the contemporary art historical landscape. Though he rigorously retained his autonomous artistic voice, Chamberlain was nevertheless thoroughly aware of, and inescapably influenced by, the predominating styles of his given moment. His early sculptures, such as Shortstop, 1957, are often discussed as the three-dimensional correlatives to Abstract Expressionist painting and, in fact, Chamberlain has described the inspiring effect that masterworks such as Willem de Kooning’s Excavation, 1950, had on his early stylistic development. Candy Andy, created in 1963 at the exact moment of Pop Art’s ascension toward the apex of its cultural significance, is inseparably linked to both the ideals and aesthetics of this most momentous period of twentieth-century art.

Candy Andy is exemplary of John Chamberlain’s particular mode of artistic creation. Fashioned entirely out of found and repurposed automobile parts, the present work displays the genius of Chamberlain’s mature aesthetic. Oscillating between sharp, jagged edges and smooth, rounded forms, the present work comprises a multifaceted and complex topography over which our eye is encouraged to journey. The undulating peaks and troughs of Candy Andy are enhanced by the vibrant colors of the individual pieces of crushed metal that combine organically to create this captivating form. Though Chamberlain adamantly described his artistic process as being as much about fate and chance as about his aesthetic predilections, the particular way in which the artist chose to fit his metal pieces together in this work resulted in a sculpture that appears inherently composed. A bright and alluring red base elegantly supports and structures the luminous white, cool blue, and gleaming reflective chrome sections that grow and expand organically into a figure-like form. The enticing combination of variegated surface texture and visually commanding color in Candy Andy is alluring and seductive. Klaus Kertess distills the power of Chamberlain’s art when he says: “One of Chamberlain’s principal strengths is his ability to unite pleasure with intelligence.” (Klaus Kertess, “Color in the Round and Then Some: John Chamberlain’s Work, 1954-1985,” in Julie Sylvester, ed., John Chamberlain: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculpture 1954 – 1985, New York, 1986, p. 29)

In 1963 John Chamberlain moved with his wife and children from New York City to Topanga Canyon in California. While recalling this time in his life, the artist specifically recounted the art that surrounded him: “That’s where I had one of Warhol’s 100 Campbell’s Soup Cans paintings and an aluminum Frank Stella painting from 1959 or so. A guy came to the house one day when we were about to go out, and wanted to rent it for a while. The man and I got into a forty-five minute discussion, except that he hardly said anything. I rambled on at him because he had said he didn’t like the Warhol painting. I went through repetition and print-making techniques and common object, blah blah blah, and he said, No, that wasn’t it, no, that wasn’t it, and no, that wasn’t it, and finally I said, ‘Well, the only thing I can think of is that you don’t like Campbell’s soup,’ and he said, ‘Yeah, that’s it.’ ” (the artist in conversation with Julie Sylvester in Ibid., p. 18) In a way that is characteristic of Chamberlain’s persona, this story is injected with humor, but it is Chamberlain’s deep appreciation for, and understanding of, the art of Pop giant Andy Warhol that shines through. The admiration was mutual: upon walking into Chamberlain’s first solo exhibition at Leo Castelli Gallery in New York in 1962, Warhol immediately purchased Jackpot, 1961, which remained as the only artwork on view at the now legendary Factory for years.

In 1963 Andy Warhol was in the midst of creating a corpus of works that would become the foremost icons of twentieth-century art and culture. His sequence of Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy and Elizabeth Taylor silkscreens were accompanied by his famed Death & Disaster series to compose a body of work that is now considered as the quintessence of the Pop movement. Through his depictions of the intertwining forces of fame and tragedy, Warhol became a celebrity in his own right. Candy Andy, in both its title and stylistic features, alludes to Andy Warhol’s inimitable cultural presence. In the same way that Warhol conferred notoriety and enduring celebrity onto his iconic muses, Chamberlain memorialized Warhol in the present work as a luminary of Pop Art. It was in the early 1960s that Chamberlain reached his stylistic maturity, and was thus able to imbue even his smaller scale works with a sense of monumental presence. The figure that emerges from the synthesis of distinctly amorphous car parts in the present work exudes an aura of monumentality that is in line with the cultural eminence of the man who inspired it.

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