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Ken Price
GO-NO-GO
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LOT SOLD. 162,500 GBP
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25
Ken Price
GO-NO-GO
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.
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LOT SOLD. 162,500 GBP
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Details & Cataloguing

The History of Now: The Collection of David Teiger

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London

Ken Price
1935 - 2012
GO-NO-GO
acrylic on fired clay
51.4 by 59.7 by 33 cm. 20 1/4 by 23 1/2 by 13 in.
Executed in 2006.
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Provenance

Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

Acquired from the above by David Teiger in 2006

Exhibited

New York, Matthew Marks Gallery, Ken Price: Sculpture and Drawings 1962-2006, September - November 2006, p. 27, no. 6, illustrated in colour

Los Angeles, Hammer Museum, Eden's Edge: Fifteen LA Artists, May - September 2007, pp. 23 and 124, no. 4, illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

Ken Price was the greatest American ceramicist of the Twentieth Century. The present work is a superb and exceptionally large summation of his mature style. Price occupied himself with these spectacularly evocative and wholly beguiling domestic-scaled abstract sculptures from the late 1990s onwards. They are diverse in influence but original in style; suggestive of organic form without being specifically representative. They are alien: appearing soft to the touch, even gelatinous, but actually made of brittle ceramic. Art historian Phyllis Tuchman described these works in the catalogue for Price’s major retrospective: "By 2000, Price was working with what he characterized as 'rounded forms with active surfaces'...Though they are, for the most part, abstract, they feel alive. Blink your eyes and one might slink across a table while another might rise or collapse on its pedestal. And their speckled, mottled exteriors are wholly unexpected. No wonder the artist said about this series, which occupied him longer than any other, that it continued 'to offer possibilities for me that are interesting and challenging'" (Phyllis Tuchman, ‘Color Me Sculpture’, in: Exh. Cat., Los Angeles County Museum of Art (and travelling), Ken Price Sculpture: A Retrospective, 2013, p. 185).

Ken Price was a central figure of the 1960s West Coast avant-garde. He had three shows at the celebrated Ferus Gallery in 1960, 1961, and 1964. He was a close peer of Ed Ruscha and Ed Kienholz and in 1966 in a LACMA catalogue essay, critic Lucy Lippard wrote that “no one else, on the east or west coast, is working like Kenneth Price” (Lucy Lippard cited in: Brian Boucher, ‘The Last Testament of Ken Price’, Art in America, 5 March 2013, online). However, following an encouraging first decade, Price spent much of his career on the fringes of the American zeitgeist; never again spoke about at the heart of the discourse, and not becoming the subject of top level museum acquisition and exhibition efforts until the final years of his life. This was partly to do with the nature of his art, for Price was a ceramicist more than a sculptor. Although he worked on paper for much of his life, he was a true devotee of his medium, and he was happy to devote as much energy to plates and teacups as he did to his sculptures; he viewed them all as part of his wide-ranging practice. In an art world dominated by Clement Greenberg’s high-minded theories, this allowed an ignorant minority to dismiss him as humble craftsman rather than noble aesthete. Perhaps because of this, Price was disillusioned by the institutions of the LA art scene and preferred to spend time up the coast surfing with good friend Dennis Hopper or, increasingly in the latter half of his life, in Taos, New Mexico, where he built a second home.

Both surfing and New Mexico had an impact on Price’s mature style. The extensive time he spent around the Californian surf scene helped him pioneer the unique technique he used to colour sculptures like Go-No-Go. Just as surfboards were made by laminated layers of coloured fibreglass, sanded into shape so that their edges betrayed seams of different hues, so too Price coloured his curved sculptures with hard thin layers of acrylic paint, that when sanded down produced the amazing effect of speckled polychromy that is so unique to his work. New Mexico was also hugely important to this artist. The spectacular geological formations provided precedent for the extraordinary shapes of his late sculpture. New Mexican pottery was also hugely influential; Price didn’t mind that it was inexpensive and designed for tourists, and took great creative succour from its bright colours and garishly painted Southwestern motifs.

This is not to say that Price worked in an outsiders vacuum, immune to the influence of the art-historical tradition. In his evocation of a sense of the uncanny and in the obfuscating cascading folds of his work, one can easily be reminded of the Surrealists. Works like Go-No-Go appear as if melting in the manner of Salvador Dalí’s clocks. Moreover, they are replete with overt sexual undertones. In the crevasses and folds of Price's sculptures, it is easy to infer phalluses, breasts, thigh clefts, and testicles. Just like the best practitioners of the Surrealist movement, he captures a sensuous mood without the inclusion of explicit imagery, playing on the blind associations of his viewers’ minds.

Ken Price wanted his sculptures to look like as if they were made from colour. This effect is admirably achieved in Go-No-Go, which droops down from a pointed apex in a bulging cantilevered cascade. It glistens and hovers, appearing at once unstable and in flux. It is directionless yet totally in the round; beguiling and resolved. It should be viewed as a premier example of the work made in the last ten years of Price’s life and a testament to the tenacity of his poetic vision.

The History of Now: The Collection of David Teiger

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London