Lot 2
  • 2

Jacqueline Humphries

40,000 - 60,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Jacqueline Humphries
  • Pile
  • signed, dated 2008 and variously inscribed on the reverse
  • metallic oil and enamel on linen
  • 203 by 221 cm. 80 by 87 in.


Modern Art, London

Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2010

Catalogue Note

For all the twists and turns of American painterly abstraction in the post-war period, it has kept with it one key principle: absorption. From the colour fields of the Abstract Expressionists to the colour charts of Josef Albers and onwards to Frank Stella and Ellsworth Kelly, the ability to create depth, even in flatness, in order to absorb the viewer in experiments of colour or shape was paramount. With its aggressively spliced sections that recall cutup photographs, Jacqueline Humphries’s Pile is the very opposite. Confronting the viewer as if prison bars, it is a defiant riposte to this history of abstraction. It is a pictorial assault course, forcing the viewer to duck and dive past, through, over and round the objects of her imagination. Instead of welcoming the viewer in with open arms, it demands a visual suppleness that borders on the athletic. Its secrets do not reveal themselves willingly.

Speaking with Humphries in 2009, the celebrated painter Cecily Brown noted that Humphries’s paintings “discourage stationary viewing. They seem to want to be perceived from multiple viewpoints” (Cecily Brown in conversation with Jacqueline Humphries, in: Cecily Brown, ‘Jaqueline Humphries by Cecily Brown’, BOMB 107, Spring 2009, online). It is these attempts at a form of digital cubism, in which Humphries attacks the sacred serenity of abstraction in a similar way that Picasso attacked figuration, that have brought her critical acclaim. Art in America noted that she “has found a perfectly synthesised pitch that is all her own” (Nana Asfour, ‘Jacqueline Humphries’, Art in America, 16 October 2012, online). She is a painter’s painter: John Currin, Cecily Brown, Amy Sillman and Sean Launders are all known admirers of her work, interested in the various pictorial stances she has taken into order to critique to the position of the post-modern painter.