Lot 1
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Cheyney Thompson

70,000 - 90,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Cheyney Thompson
  • Chronochrome XIII
  • signed, dated 2009 and numbered 13 on the overlap
  • oil on canvas
  • 139.6 by 162.6cm.; 55 by 64in.


Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Cologne

Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2009


Berlin, Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Pedestals, Bias-cut, /Robert Macaire/, Chronochromes, 2009

Catalogue Note

“In an uncanny parallel to photography’s 19th century challenge to painting, Thompson and his generation are faced with a new question: why make painting in the digital age?”

David Joselit, ‘Blanks and Noise: On Cheyney Thompson’, Texte Zur Kunst, No. 77, March 2010, p. 129-32.

Pulsating with a vast expanse of ethereal white traversed by a matrix of intricately painted chromatic rasters, the present work belongs to Cheyney Thompson’s acclaimed corpus of Chronochromes. Attained through the magnification of a canvas’ weave pattern, each laboriously hand rendered mark is created using regular modulations of colour associated both to the moment in which they were created and to a colour system invented by the early twentieth-century Boston artist and scholar Albert H. Munsell. Alongside Munsell’s colour system which was one of the earliest methods of applying numerical designations to colour values, Thompson also evokes the innovative orchestral work by Olivier Messiaen, Chronochromie (or Time-Colour) of 1960. Distinguished by subtle prismatic variations, from cobalt violet to cerulean blue and raw sienna, which look to register the flow of time itself, each of Thompson’s Chronochromes is marked by two extreme polarities of colour: luminescent white and saturated black, alluding, respectively, to midday and midnight.

In its bold attempt to break down the conventional linearity of brushwork while simultaneously drawing attention to the economics of production and the quantification of labour time, Chronochrome XIII suggests a compelling comparison with Seurat. Just like the French master, Thompson betrays the desire to rationally decompose a continuous visual field into contiguous discrete units. However, as noted by distinguished art historian Yve-Alain Bois, Thompson not only inherits but surpasses Seurat: where the latter relied on optical mixing to re-synthesise in our eyes what he had patiently divided, Thompson exposes the codes of division that he uses in his various series (Simon Baier, Yve-Alain Bois, and Ann Lauterbach, Cheyney Thompson: Metric, Pedestal, Landlord, Cabengo, Recit, London 2012, pp. 4-6).

Thompson’s engagement with the current status of painting within competing contemporary technological modes of image production has led to a rigorous interrogation of the medium itself via remarkable works that stimulatingly explore issues of pictorial, economic, and technological abstraction. Faced with such queries, Thompson ultimately addresses art as a system of production and reception, from the minutely controlled brushstrokes, to the exhibition and the market in which they are disseminated.