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PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED ITALIAN COLLECTION

Seth Price
VINTAGE BOMBER
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.
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.
180,000250,000
LOT SOLD. 287,500 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
30

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED ITALIAN COLLECTION

Seth Price
VINTAGE BOMBER
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.
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.
180,000250,000
LOT SOLD. 287,500 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
London

Seth Price
B. 1973
VINTAGE BOMBER
vacuum-formed high impact polystyrene
243.8 by 121.9 cm. 96 by 48 in.
Executed in 2008. 
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Petzel Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner in June 2012

Catalogue Note

Vintage Bomber belongs to Seth Price’s most recognisable body of work: the series of vacuum-formed ‘canvases’ made of sleek, monochrome plastic in which shrink-wrapped bomber jackets are captured in relief. In the present work, the jacket’s contours have been captured in the minute detail of heat-formed golden plastic; each fold, wrinkle and seam has been trapped and re-contextualised as an art object that is part industrial packaging and part devotional relic. Intended, like a picture or an altarpiece, to hang on the wall, Price’s high-impact polystyrene compositions are sophisticated meditations on cultural signification, presence and absence, high-art and low materials.

In Price’s artistic universe, plastic, a pervasive presence in contemporary life, is transformed into a highly valuable fine art commodity. For these works, Price makes use of a technique developed in the 1950s during the boom of industrial plastic-use, whereby heated sheets of plastic are vacuum-formed to take on the shape and volume of various moulds. Here, Price has chosen the bomber jacket as his mould around which opaque plastic sheets have cooled to form a hard shell; a shell that serves to iconify the bomber jacket as an item of twentieth-century cultural signification.

Interested in the ways in which information mutates and meaning shifts over time, Price chose the bomber jacket as a symbol, or indeed vessel, owing to its own varied history of appropriation. First used by fighter pilots during the First World War, the bomber jacket was thereafter adopted by a myriad of social factions. Made famous by heartthrob Hollywood movie stars of the 1950s including James Dean and Marlon Brando, the bomber jacket has since experienced a shift and flux in signification: graduating into the world of counter-culture fashion, this item of clothing was adopted by punks and skinheads in the 1970s, then by hardcore techno and hip-hop counter-cultures of the 1990s, through to its present day currency as an accepted sartorial staple.

Aesthetically, Price’s bomber jackets invite a dialogue with Henri Matisse’s monumental Backs, a series of sculptures created between 1909 and 1930 and posthumously cast in bronze that boldly reimagined the classical nude. Taking on the same monolithic, bas-relief format of Matisse’s famous works, Price transforms the twentieth-century master’s bold figurative abstraction through the jacket as a corporeal cipher rendered in a faux-luxe cheap material. We might also be inclined to channel this connection through the legacy of Bruce Nauman, whose seminal sculpture Henry Moore, Bound to Fail is readily evoked in Price’s pseudo-body fragment. In Nauman’s work we are presented with an iron cast of the artist’s loosely rope-bound and baggy cardigan-wearing back. As an abstract corporeal fragment, Nauman invokes the legacy of important twentieth-century sculptors such as Henry Moore (for whom Matisse was a significant influence), who, during the 1960s had fallen out of fashion with the emerging avant-garde. Trapped, bound, lifeless and still, Nauman’s iron body cast offers a complex meditation on the possibilities of figuration and abstraction in the emerging twentieth-century discourse of post-modernism. Price’s Vintage Bomber updates this narrative for the Twenty-First Century. By adopting an unashamedly commercial facture that would have made Warhol envious, and by choosing an item of clothing that itself has undergone a series of symbolic changes – from its original military origins through countercultural subversion to its present-day quotidian use – Price presents the shifting currency of corporeal representation in art. In Vintage Bomber the human body is rendered both vacant and superficial, a veritable death-mask cast in facile gold plastic.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
London