Lot 31
  • 31

Wade Guyton

350,000 - 450,000 GBP
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  • Wade Guyton
  • Untitled
  • signed and dated 2007 on the overlap
  • Epson UltraChrome inkjet on linen
  • 102.4 by 91.5 cm. 40 3/8 by 36 in.


Galerie Francesca Pia, Zurich

Private Collection, Europe (acquired from the above in 2007)

Sotheby's, London, 30 June 2011, Lot 273 (consigned by the above)

Acquired from the above by the present owner


Colour: The colours in the catalogue illustration are fairly accurate. Condition: Please refer to the department for a professional condition report.
"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

From Wade Guyton’s signature body of work, Untitled is a consummate example of this artist’s radical subversion of the revered canon of painting on canvas. Branded with the form that has effectively become this artist’s autograph, the trademark 'X', this painting extols the graphic shutterings and mechanical glitches of Guyton’s Epsom printer. The formal and conceptual identity of this work is fundamentally defined by the autonomous accident and remote spontaneity of its automated fabrication. Via startling economical means, Untitled represents Guyton’s rigorous interrogation of the essence of authorship and brutal analysis of the limits of creative production. 

Guyton’s paintings candidly record the physical process of their execution. In order to craft them, Guyton wrangles robust heavy linen into the mouth of his Epson Stylus Pro 11880 inkjet printer – the largest that Epsom makes. As the mechanism stops and skips across the unwieldy fabric, minor imperfections are imprinted upon the finished result; Guyton relishes this process, dragging his ground down and on to the studio floor where minute scratches and imperfections interrupt the monochromatic mark-making. This process is shown perfectly in the present work – the black of the ‘X’ is striated with horizontal lines of inkjet, and at the top, the peaks of the ‘X’ have been skipped over, leaving two further rhomboids and trailing lines of rolled black. By its nature, the ‘X’ conjures ideas of stoppage and cancellation; a sense enhanced by the visual residue of printer skips and jams. However, as Guyton has noted, “The ‘X’ wasn’t really about a cancellation… It was about trying to figure out how to make a mark or how to make a drawing or how to do anything when you were overwhelmed by the history of art” (Wade Guyton, cited in: Exh. Cat., New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Wade Guyton OS, 2012, p. 19). Whilst his process is conspicuously modern, Guyton’s approach is nonetheless historic, founded upon an appreciation of artistic predecessors. 

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, cited in:p. 11). Though strictly without material precedent, 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 art critic 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: Exh. Cat., New York, Friedrich Petzel Gallery, Wade Guyton, 2007, n.p.).