15
15
Mark Grotjahn
UNTITLED (YELLOW BUTTERFLY ORANGE MARK GROTJAHN 2004)
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
UK: Greenford Park
Lots marked W will be sent to Greenford Park Fine Art Storage Facility immediately after the auction.
Double Dagger
Indicates that the lot is being sold whilst subject to Temporary Importation, and that VAT is due at the reduced rate
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
3,000,0004,000,000
LOT SOLD. 3,722,900 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
15
Mark Grotjahn
UNTITLED (YELLOW BUTTERFLY ORANGE MARK GROTJAHN 2004)
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
UK: Greenford Park
Lots marked W will be sent to Greenford Park Fine Art Storage Facility immediately after the auction.
Double Dagger
Indicates that the lot is being sold whilst subject to Temporary Importation, and that VAT is due at the reduced rate
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
3,000,0004,000,000
LOT SOLD. 3,722,900 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

The History of Now: The Collection of David Teiger

|
London

Mark Grotjahn
B. 1968
UNTITLED (YELLOW BUTTERFLY ORANGE MARK GROTJAHN 2004)

Provenance

Blum & Poe, Los Angeles

Acquired from the above by David Teiger in 2004

Exhibited

New York, Blum & Poe, Mark Grotjahn: Butterfly Paintings, May - June 2014, p. 13, illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

Beaming with an irrepressible energy and mesmeric beauty, Mark Grotjahn’s Untitled (Yellow Butterfly Orange Mark Grotjahn 2004) is an exhilarating example of the artist’s celebrated series of Butterfly paintings. Iconic and instantly recognisable, these paintings today represent a short-hand for the artist's acclaimed contemporary practice. In a 2005 ArtForum article Michael Ned Holte explained as much: "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" (Michael Ned Holte, ‘Mark Grotjahn’ in: ArtForum, November 2005, p. 259). Untitled (Yellow Butterfly Orange Mark Grotjahn 2004) is a paragon of this series and typifies the salient themes of method and concept that characterise his best work.  In a luminous palette, the present painting reverberates with incredible urgency, pronounced elegance, and magnificent composure. Intricately wrought and carefully choreographed, this work envelops the full force of Grotjahn’s extreme acuity for spatial relationships, endlessly engaging anyone who stands before it in a dynamic optical experience.

Mark Grotjahn’s oeuvre grew out of conceptual sign making. Early in his career, he painstakingly reproduced quirky graphics and phrases from local storefronts. In turn, he would trade these handmade copies with the shop owners in exchange for the original signage, which Grotjahn then exhibited as his own. In 1998, Grotjahn displayed works from this Sign Replacement Project alongside a set of paintings that resemble Leon Battista Alberti's Renaissance treatise on one-point perspective. Grotjahn recalls: “I was always interested in line and color. I wanted to find a motif that I could experiment with for a while. I did a group of drawings over a period of six to twelve months. The drawing that I chose was one that resembled the three-tier perspective, and that is what I went with” (Arcy Douglass in conversation with Mark Grotjahn, Portland Art, 6 October 2010, online). In contrast to Alberti's diagrammatical experimentation, Grotjahn tilted the axis ninety degrees, severing any ties to landscape painting that a horizontal orientation may have suggested. With the vertical body anchoring the centre of the composition and the vectors radiating like starbursts, Grotjahn discovered a graphic framework that would become his most sustained visual investigation.

Here, two off-kilter vanishing points mark the centre of the butterfly’s ‘abdomen’, while flying rays dart outward, fluttering across the diagonal trajectories of slightly skewed ‘wings’ – their tremoring vectors conjure the sensation of being captured mid-flight. Summoning natural world phenomena, while investigating the fundamental tenets of abstraction, the artist achieves a result that is as aesthetically seductive as it is rigorously analytical. Operating within this tension between the ostensibly incongruous poles of abstraction and figuration, the work complicates the formal correlation between the winged insects and the picture’s purely geometric organisation of shapes. The refined precision and forthright simplicity of the present work's symmetry and monochrome palette is punctuated by reminders of artistic process.

Untitled (Yellow Butterfly Orange Mark Grotjahn 2004) is particularly striking, as the gradations of yellow are highlighted by the orange paint peeking out at the edges of the central stripes, which is moreover emphasised by his provocatively bold signature. As discussed by Johanna Burton: "Language plays a significant role on and off the artist's canvases, particularly in his use of ambiguity (saying 'butterfly' and meaning 'abstraction'…). Like Ryman, Grotjahn uses his signature as verbal signifier and as formal device, leaving us to determine where one ends and the other begins" (Johanna Burton, 'Mark Grotjahn: Anton Kern', ArtForum, December 2003, online). Here Grotjahn creates mesmerising depth and brilliant, luxurious glamour through the clarion sunshine of his palette.

Untitled (Yellow Butterfly Orange Mark Grotjahn 2004) thus entrances the viewer through an expanding spatial illusion of subtle monochromatic gradations, reflecting the intense fascination with the interplay between illusionistic space and graphic representation that is at the heart of Grotjahn’s practice. Building on his earlier sign project, Grotjahn employed the butterfly motif as a means to further investigate those perspectival techniques with dual and multiple vanishing points, even as he engages with a broad spectrum of non-objective art, from Constructivism and Futurism through to Minimalism and Op-art. In the present work, Grotjahn creates a parallel pictorial universe in which geometric abstraction and traditional Western representational painting collide. The monochrome radial bands possess a seductive inner force, an energy that draws the viewer into its kaleidoscopic hold and refuses to let go. This painting encapsulates the full spectrum of Grotjahn’s meticulous acuity for spatial relationships and his ardent exploration into colour, form, and scale.

The History of Now: The Collection of David Teiger

|
London