Lot 419
  • 419

UGO RONDINONE | a day like this.made of nothing and nothing else

800,000 - 1,200,000 USD
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  • Ugo Rondinone
  • a day like this.made of nothing and nothing else
  • cast aluminum and white enamel
  • 200 3/4 by 236 1/4 by 196 7/8 in. 509.9 by 600.1 by 500.1 cm.
  • Executed in 2009, this work is the artist's proof from an edition of 3, plus 1 artist's proof.


Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich
Acquired from the above by David Teiger in November 2009


Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y Léon; Aargauer, Kunsthaus Aarau, Ugo Rondinone: The Night of Lead, July 2009 - August 2010, pp. 86-87, illustrated (edition no. 1 exhibited)
CentroCentro Cibeles, Madrid, Helga de Alvear Collection: The Art of the Present, May - November 2013, pp. 20-21, illustrated in color (edition no. 2 exhibited) 


Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Conversations in Cáceres, Madrid 2012, illustrated in color on the cover
Noah Horowitz, Art of the Deal: Contemporary Art in a Global Financial Market, Princeton 2014, p. 133, illustrated 


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Catalogue Note

Commanding, spectral, and august, Ugo Rondinone’s a day like this.made of nothing and nothing else masterfully evokes dialectic notions of life—indomitable and persevering, as well as death—encroaching and ever-present. The artist’s totemic tree, an archetype of foregone Arcadian splendor, is frozen on the precipice between growth and decay. Placing these opposing forces in dialogue, the present work marries monumentality with poetry, reflecting the transience of life on a cosmic scale, as well as acting as a proxy for Rondinone’s overarching artistic ethos.  Meticulously molded from the ancient olive trees which grow outside of the artist’s ancestral Naples, a day like this.made of nothing and nothing else functions as a highly personal tether between Rondinone’s familial origins and his ever-evolving conceptual aims. As the artist explains, “what interests me about the 2000-year-old olive trees is the fact that once they are cast bare naked, they become a memoriam of condensed time. Through a cast olive tree, you can not only experience the lapse of real time that is lived time, frozen in its given form but through this transformation also a different calibrated temporality. Time can be experienced as a lived abstraction, where the shape is formed by this accumulation of time and wind force. If my work, in general, has a nonlinear approach to the world, then the system and concept of time, which has occupied my work since the beginning, gives me a certain sense of grounding” (Ugo Rondinone, Creative Time, New York, Art on the Plaza: air gets into everything even nothing & get up girl a sun is running the world, 2007). Acting as a locus of compressed time, the present work plays with notions of perception and temporality, projecting a myriad of conceptual associations by functioning as a bridge connecting the banal and the strange. 

Rondinone thrives in these liminal spaces between the known and the unknown, crafting objects that defy categorization and hold within them auras of memory and loss. Exemplary of this enduring thread within Rondinone's oeuvre, the present work oscillates between nearly platonic mimesis and a hitherto alien form, connecting the mundane with the unfamiliar. Every knot and twisted limb acts as a record of a hard-won battle to survive the brutalities of the lived environment, yet their lack of foliage and color destabilizes easy readings of these signifiers; concepts of abundance, age, and experience are all frozen in time without origin or destination. The contrast inherent to the sculpture's organic subject matter and pointedly industrial material composition establishes a day like this.made of nothing and nothing else as both a record of progress as well as a harbinger of endpoints and conclusions, signifying through its eternal preservation the capacity for the world around it to decay.

Beyond the present work’s relationship to time, it is an exemplar of the central theme undergirding Rondinone’s oeuvre: depictions of nature and how they can be made to reflect human subjectivity. Well known for his large-scale monochromatic drawings of verdant pre-modern forests, the artist’s fixation on nature serves as a vehicle to explore the interplay between emotional interiority and society. As David Thorpe explains, “the relationship between the modern artist, art and the landscape as a site for melancholy reflection, is primary in Ugo Rondinone’s work. His installations are landscapes within which he can express his separateness from the outer world, by creating indoor rooms which act as equivalents of real life” (David Thorpe, “Artist in Landscape” in Exh. Cat., London, Whitechapel Gallery, Ugo Rondinone: Zero Built a Nest in My Navel, 2006, p. 275). In the present work, Rondinone has identified himself with his subject matter. Without a natural setting to call its own, the work fundamentally alters the space it inhabits, forming a novel environment. a day like this.made of nothing and nothing else, in its resistance to easy classification, mirrors the relationship between the inner self and society, engaging notions of existentialism in the tradition of Jean-Paul Sartre and Francis Bacon.  

A treatise in form, material, and scale, Rondinone’s sculpture takes the quotidian and transforms it into something deeply alluring. As David Thorpe explains, the artist’s “ancient olive trees whisper in oracular voices, guiding us or leading us astray” (Ibid 277). Grand, wizened, and alchemical, a day like this.made of nothing and nothing else is both recognizable and mystifying, leaving an unshakable impression which endures in glimpses like half-remembered dreams.

This work is being offered for sale from the catalogue. Prospective buyers may contact Sotheby's Contemporary Art Department with inquiries or for an appointment to view components of the work. The purchaser shall be responsible for collecting or shipping the artwork from its current location. Please contact Sotheby's Contemporary Art Department for further details.