Lot 168
  • 168

Robert Graham

Estimate
30,000 - 40,000 USD
Sold
bidding is closed

Description

  • Robert Graham
  • Heather
  • Incised with the artist's name R Graham and date cast 1979 and number 2/9
  • Painted and patinated bronze
  • 65 by 12 by 12 in.; 165.1 by 30.5 by 30.5 cm
  • Conceived and cast in 1979 in an edition of 9. Please note that in the print catalogue for this sale, this lot appears as number 168T.

Provenance

Acquired directly from the artist by A. Alfred Taubman in April 1979 

Exhibited

New York, Robert Miller Gallery, Robert Graham, November - December 1979 (another example exhibited) 
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Robert Graham: Five Statues, April - May 1981, cat. no. 3 (another example exhibited)
Minneapolis, Walker Art Center & West Palm Beach, Norton Gallery and School of Art & Houston Museum of Fine Arts & Omaha, Joslyn Art Museum & Des Moines Art Center & San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Robert Graham: Statues, September 1981 - December 1982, illustrated p. 29 (another example exhibited)
West Palm Beach, Norton Gallery & School of Art, Extended Loan, May - September 1990
Frankfurt, Galerie Neuendorf, Robert Graham: Statues, September - November 1990, cat. no. 44, illustrated in color pp. 49-50 (another example exhibited)

Literature

Hilton Kramer, "Cartier-Bresson Shows the Pick of His Photos; Disco Fund Raiser; Paul Anka in Westchester," The New York Times, November 9, 1979, p. C1

Catalogue Note

Sotheby’s is honored to present a selection of works by the renowned realist sculptor Robert Graham assembled by A. Alfred Taubman. Graham’s elegant bronzes return to a Classical discourse on beauty and form in an era when the artistic currents—Minimalism, Conceptualism, Pop Art—favored anything but such a traditional form of representation. Looking to the famed works of Praxiteles, Michelangelo and Rodin as inspiration, Graham worked directly from live model sessions and obsessed over minute details such as a model’s tensed muscle, angular cheekbone or taut hairstyle to ensure he would render the form with the utmost virtuosity. For an entire lifetime to be devoted to one specific practice it is a true testament to Graham’s dexterity that his figures contain elements of both individuality and universalism; no two figures are alike, creating an illustrious oeuvre that seeks to define timeless beauty as a celebration of the body.

A. Alfred Taubman’s longstanding admiration of Graham’s work is illustrated by the depth in which he collected Graham’s “statues,” as Graham preferred to term them. In an early example, Heather (lot 168T) Graham experimented with a woman’s headdress, opting to paint this particular version in a velvety green. The hybrid work Spy—Stephanie (lot 171T) is a rare glimpse into Graham’s investigation of the horse, an animal oft-regarded as the most athletic and humanlike in its features. Petra, Sasha and Gabrielle (lots 169T, 179T and 182T, respectively) were first exhibited in Graham’s lauded Gagosian Gallery exhibition Eight Statues in New York in 1994, in which various casts of eight principle works were clustered in the central atrium of the gallery. Viewers, in optimal voyeuristic fashion, could navigate multiple angles of the same sculpture at once while being confronted with each figure’s intense stare, reversing the gaze back onto the viewer. Elisa’s (lot 183T) pose is the most complex of the group, every detail rendered anatomically correct down to her curled toes.

Through his dedicated collecting of Graham’s works, A. Alfred Taubman also forged a longstanding friendship with the artist. Indeed, it was A. Alfred Taubman himself who recommended to Mayor Coleman Young that Graham be selected to erect the now infamous Memorial to Joe Louis that stands proudly at the intersection of Jefferson and Woodward Avenues in Detroit, Michigan. Commissioned to commemorate the Detroit Institute of Art’s centennial in 1986, the Memorial to Joe Louis has become synonymous with the city of Detroit and its resiliency in the face of adversity. A celebration of Detroit’s first black sports hero, Monument to Joe Louis is both provocative and elusive, representing the boxer by just his arm and clenched fist. A. Alfred Taubman’s recognition of Robert Graham as a master of sculpture—both for private and public works—set in motion numerous subsequent commissions for the artist, whose only public work prior to the Detroit commission was the Olympic Gateway, erected in Los Angeles to commemorate the 1984 Olympics. Graham’s public monuments can be seen in cities across the United States, from Kansas City, Missouri (Charlie Parker) to New York City (Duke Ellington) and Washington, D.C. (Franklin Delano Roosevelt), all owing their instantly recognizable memorials to the impeccable eye of A. Alfred Taubman. 

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