Lot 12
  • 12

Mark Grotjahn

150,000 - 200,000 GBP
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  • Mark Grotjahn
  • Untitled (Full Color Butterfly for Hillary 47.22)
  • signed Mark Grotjahn, titled and dated 2016 on the reverse
  • colour pencil on paper
  • 25.7 by 15.2cm.
  • 10 1/8 by 6in.
  • Executed in 2016.


The Artist

Sale: Gagosian Gallery, New York, Art for Hillary Auction 2016, 12th September 2016

Purchased at the above sale by the present owner

Catalogue Note

Grotjahn’s Untitled (Full Color Butterfly for Hillary 47.22) from 2016 is an exhilarating jewel-like example of the artist’s highly accomplished butterfly compositions. Enticing the viewer into its spellbinding vortex, Grotjahn produces a gripping perceptual experience that hovers between the sobering flatness of early Modernist painting and the expressionistic effect of its dizzying intensity. Engaging with influences as diverse as the spatial illusions of Op Art, the social utopianism of Constructivism, and the avant-garde radicalism of analytical Cubism, Grotjahn graphically emphasises the vitality of abstract painting today. Since 1997 Grotjahn has employed his now-iconic butterfly motif with single, dual and multiple vanishing points across a highly regarded series of paintings and works on paper. As Michael Ned Holte remarked: 'The butterfly has become to Mark Grotjahn what the target is to Kenneth Noland, the zip was to Barnett Newman, and the color white is to Robert Ryman. Grotjahn’s abstracted geometric figure is suitably elusive. In fact, the more familiar it becomes, the more he refines its ability to surprise and, perhaps paradoxically, takes it further away from actual butterflyness' (M. Ned Holte, ‘Mark Grotjahn’ in Artforum, November 2005, p. 259).

The riveting Untitled (Full Color Butterfly for Hillary 47.22) stuns in its exceptional clarity and mesmeric beauty. His Butterfly paintings operate within the tension between the ostensibly incongruous poles of abstraction and figuration, complicating the formal correlation between the winged insects and the pictures’ purely geometric organisations of shapes. As Douglas Fogle notes: 'Grotjahn’s butterflies hover precipitously close to the line between abstract geometry and illusionistic spatiality, displaying a kind of graphic unconscious that constitutes a paradoxically systematic disruption of a rational and orderly system' (D. Fogle, ‘In the Center of the Infinite’, in Parkett 80, 2007, p. 117).

Grotjahn's iconic composition of complex and radiant colour both challenges and expands upon the paradigms of classical and modernist painting. His genius lies in his revolutionary use of perspective and geometric manipulations of space. Each richly opaque ray of colour is entirely independent, a technique that lends the overall piece Grotjahn’s characteristic clarity and precision. The hypnotic, kaleidoscopic creation that is the present work is flamboyant and electric yet deliberately enigmatic at the same time.