52
52

THE HISTORY OF NOW: THE COLLECTION OF DAVID TEIGER SOLD TO BENEFIT TEIGER FOUNDATION FOR THE SUPPORT OF CONTEMPORARY ART

Jenny Saville
REFLECTIVE FLESH
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.
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.
2,000,0003,000,000
LOT SOLD. 2,780,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
52

THE HISTORY OF NOW: THE COLLECTION OF DAVID TEIGER SOLD TO BENEFIT TEIGER FOUNDATION FOR THE SUPPORT OF CONTEMPORARY ART

Jenny Saville
REFLECTIVE FLESH
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.
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.
2,000,0003,000,000
LOT SOLD. 2,780,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York

Jenny Saville
B. 1970
REFLECTIVE FLESH
signed and dated 2002-3 on the reverse
oil on canvas
120 1/8 by 96 1/8 in. 305.2 by 244.2 cm.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Gagosian Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by David Teiger in 2003

Exhibited

New York, Gagosian Gallery, Jenny Saville: Migrants, April - May 2003, n.p., illustrated in color 

Literature

John Gray, Linda Nochlin, David Sylvester and Simon Schama, Jenny Saville, New York 2005, p. 93, illustrated in color
Charlotte Mullins, Painting People: the state of the art, London, 2006, p. 32, illustrated in color 
Linda Nochlin, Bathers, Bodies, Beauty: The Visceral Eye, Cambridge and London, 2006, p. 242, no. 81, illustrated in color, and pp. 241 and 244 (text)
Kelly A. Wacker, ed., Baroque Tendencies in Contemporary Art, Newcastle, 2007, p. 104 (text)
Exh. Cat., Zürich, Kunsthaus Zürich, Egon Schiele - Jenny Saville, 2014, p. 22, no. 8, illustrated in color
Maura Reilly, ed., Women Artists: The Linda Nochlin Reader, London, 2015, p. 232, illustrated in color
Mark Stevens and Richard Calvocoressi, Jenny Saville, New York, 2018, p. 279, illustrated in color

Catalogue Note

“You are the only one who can never see yourself except as an image; you never see your eyes unless they are dulled by the gaze they rest upon the mirror or the lens… even and especially for your own body, you are condemned to the repertoire of its images.” (Roland Barthes, Roland Barthes, California 1994, p. 36)

Great swathes of painted flesh envelop the canvas of Jenny Saville’s monumental painting Reflective Flesh. Quite literally larger than life, at ten feet tall and eight feet wide, this is a raw and powerful work of vast proportion which celebrates the female form in all its glory. In spite of its enormous size, the work expresses an incredible intimacy in both subject matter and sentiment. As in major works such as Propped (1992), Saville frequently inserts herself into her compositions, using her own physique to explore the intimacies and intricacies of the female body. Working from photographs taken of herself in awkward and compromising positions, Saville lays her own nakedness bare, sparing no details from the viewer. The resulting paintings offer a bold, defiant, provocative and intellectual response to one of the most venerable genres of art history: the female nude. “The direct engagement involved with using your own body interests me,” she states. “You force yourself to confront levels of judgement you exercise over your own body. Over history, conventionally women have been looked at, rather than being the people who look. As an artist, your role is to look.” (Jenny Saville in conversation with Martin Gayford in Exh. Cat., New York, Gagosian Gallery, Jenny Saville: Territories, 1999, p. 30) Surrounded by mirrored surfaces in Reflective Flesh, Saville gazes out defiantly towards the viewer. With legs splayed, pudendum overtly exposed, and bulging, weighty, corpulent flesh exhibited and reflected at every angle, the artist strikingly subverts the genre of the nude by simultaneously positioning herself as subject and object, protagonist and producer. 

Reflective Flesh is a greatly important and generative painting from Saville’s oeuvre and was exhibited in the artist’s 2003 solo exhibition Migrants at Gagosian Gallery in New York. Speaking of the painting, Saville has explained that the composition was inspired by a famous Roland Barthes quote which contemplates the fact that we are never able to see our own bodies in their entirety, except through the mediated and secondary lens of a mirror or camera. 

Born in Cambridge in the United Kingdom in 1970, Saville grew up as a teenager in the 1980s at a time when body regulation and the diet industry were on the rise. Coming of age in an era where women were continually presented with the message that slender is synonymous with beautiful – that the smaller, the thinner, the lesser, the better – had a profound impact on Saville’s artistic practice. As if in search for an antidote, her colossal paintings refuse to be contained or confined. With their richly painted abundance of lush, female corporeality, they are at once overwhelming and empowering in their potency. In Reflective Flesh, Saville defiantly displays the female sexual organ as the focal point of the painting. In so doing, she at once recalls and disrupts the great tradition of the female nude throughout the canon of art history, from Titian, Rubens and Chaim Soutine to Willem de Kooning, Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud. Yet it is Gustave Courbet’s provocative painting The Origin of the World (1866) that this painting most strikingly evokes. As Linda Nochlin writes: “Looking at Reflective Flesh, one thinks of the long history of this subject, the female sex-organ, the first image to be inscribed on the walls of caves at the dawn of history, according to current art-historical mythology accounting for the origin of art, a theme reaching its apotheosis in Courbet’s scandalous Origin of the World, a small canvas meant for private delectation, once modestly hidden behind a green baize cloth, now hanging brazenly for all to see on the walls of the Musée d’Orsay. Jenny Saville, in Reflective Flesh… has indeed returned painting to its origins at the same time that she has made it new.” (Linda Nochlin, "Migrants," Exh. Cat., New York, Gagosian Gallery, Jenny Saville: Migrants, 2003, n.p.)

Characterized by a disorienting, multifaceted and fragmentary perspective, Reflective Flesh presents Saville’s response to Barthes’s enigma, while continuing the tradition of such modern masters as Willem de Kooning and Pablo Picasso, all of whom addressed the female form in new and innovative ways. Saville has long been fascinated by the comparable characteristics of paint and skin and, through a meticulous process of layering, her paintings seek to explore and exploit the tactile and visceral qualities of both her medium and her subject matter. Drawing an analogy between the slow build up of paint on a canvas, and the multiple layers of identity that we construct, develop, inherit, absorb and perform over a lifetime, she writes: “I want there to be an awareness of wearing this paint body, the artifice of it – a mixture of reality and fiction. I admire the way that Cindy Sherman, in the film stills, wears these myths of femininity. You believe them but also know that it is a fictional world that she’s created.” (Jenny Saville in conversation with Martin Gayford, Exh. Cat., New York, Gagosian Gallery, Jenny Saville: Migrants, 2003, p. 30) At once bold, beautiful and brazen, Reflective Flesh majestically encapsulates the most noble and profound sentiments of Saville’s artistic practice.

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York