Lot 3
  • 3

Wade Guyton

800,000 - 1,200,000 GBP
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  • Wade Guyton
  • Untitled
  • signed and dated 2007 on the overlap
  • Epson UltraChrome inkjet on linen
  • 213.4 by 175.3cm.; 84 by 69in.


Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York

Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 2007


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate, although the background is slightly warmer in the original. Condition: This work is in very good condition. No restoration is apparent when examined under ultraviolet light. No restoration is apparent when examined under ultra-violet light.
"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

Wade Guyton's monumental Untitled from 2007 is a dramatically striking paradigm of the artist’s most immediately recognizable canon, broadcast in arresting scale and perfectly characteristic chromatic polarity. Embodying the form that has effectively become the artist's autograph, the large-format trademark X shape is here repeated in fragmentary echoes and remains determinedly incomplete as the schematic strata of printed black ink inconsistently accumulate across the white linen. Archetypal of the artist’s oeuvre, the formal and conceptual identities of this work are fundamentally defined by the autonomous accident and remote spontaneity of its mechanical fabrication. Via startling economical means, Untitled represents Guyton’s rigorous interrogation of the essence of authorship and his elegantly fabricated and brutally efficient analysis of the limits of creative production.

On the occasion of his critically acclaimed 2012-13 retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the artist declared, “When I started to be interested in making art, all the artists I was interested in were involved in the manipulation of language or the malleability of the categories of art. There was a freedom in this way of thinking. There was a space where objects could be speculative” (Wade Guyton quoted in: Exhibition Catalogue, New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Wade Guyton OS, 2012-13, p. 11). Though strictly without material precedent, Wade Guyton’s practice inevitably extends a grand tradition of conceptual reassessment regarding themes of authorship and appropriation that were variously investigated in the Twentieth Century by the likes of Marcel Duchamp, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Joseph Kosuth, Sol LeWitt, John Baldessari, Richard Prince and Christopher Wool. Guyton’s enquiry not only challenges the boundaries of painting and the objectification of art, but also the nature of visual communication itself. As definitively demonstrated by Untitled, his works reveal themselves as a product of mechanical reproduction, reflecting his use of commercial inkjet printers. These compositions are conceived on a computer and executed on a printer, an approach instigated in 2000 when he overlaid various found imagery from exhibition catalogues, monographs and architecture magazines with black Xs, a process both implicating and undermining the reproduced image in the our contemporary era.

In 2006, Guyton transferred from paper sheets to reams of linen, feeding vast swathes of fabric through an Epson Stylus Pro 9600 ink-jet printer in his Thirty-eighth Street studio in New York. In order to fit the linen into the printer, which is forty-four inches wide, he folded it in half, executing one side and then the other so that the compositions became vertically bisected by a central empty seam. As exemplified in the present work, the resultant X form necessarily became fractionally interrupted and disconnected. Whereas Guyton’s earlier X paintings consisted of multiplied and repeated small X characters, in the critical year of 2007, when the present work was created, these were superseded by a single large X. Unlike his previous work, which consisted mostly of flames, narrow stripes and the small Xs, the single large X draws much greater attention to the central vertical division dictated by the physical limitations of the printer.

This was a crucial conceptual transformation in Guyton’s practice, and instigated a line of enquiry that he pursued in his art for the subsequent five years. As John Kelsey described Guyton’s method in 2007, “Sending these pages through a desktop printer, interrupting them with his programmed marks, the artist intervened directly within the mediation of artistic practice, discourse and value….And as the painter or printer elaborates ways of using that somehow remain out of reach or blind to the author, he also learns to displace himself with a strange ease between discourse and design, communication and image…The artist intervenes where the production of communication by means of communication happens, in the black of the font and in the sending of the image” (John Kelsey in: Exhibition Catalogue, New York, Friedrich Petzel Gallery, Wade Guyton, 2007, n.p.).