Contemporary Art Online | New York

Contemporary Art Online | New York

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 159. Untitled.

Carl Holty


Lot Closed

July 21, 06:41 PM GMT


10,000 - 15,000 USD

Lot Details


Carl Holty

1900 - 1973


signed; signed, dated 1960 and inscribed This is a gift to my daughter Antonia on the strainer

oil on canvas

Canvas: 72 by 45 in. (182.9 by 114.3 cm.)

Framed: 74½ by 47 in. (189.2 by 119.4 cm.)

The Estate of the Artist

Private Collection

“Pictorial space is an aesthetically created space and is as such as real as nature. Its reality is based on the reality of the hidden inherent laws of the picture surface.” – Hans Hofmann

Throughout his career, Carl Holty (1900-1973) was at the heart of 20th Century abstraction. After studying under Hans Hofmann at the Munich Academy, Holty went on to become an integral member of the inner circles of both European and American abstraction. While Holty was living in Paris in the 1930s, Robert Delaunay asked him to join the artists group Abstraction-Création. (Holty and Alexander Calder were the only two American members at the time.) After Paris, Holty moved to New York, where he earned the praise of Harold Rosenberg and chaired the American Abstract Artists group. Holty also pursued teaching as a professor at the American Artists’ School where he taught Ad Reinhardt.

In Untitled (1960), we can see the influence of Hofmann’s teaching in Holty’s emphasis on color and the materiality of paint. At this stage in his career, Holty had given up every trace of figuration in favor of pure abstraction à la Hofmann. In the current work, the amorphous panels of color become tectonic plates, and the fault lines between these ‘plates’ demarcate the fields of action for Holty’s experimentation with the medium of paint. For example, in the upper third of the painting, the narrow slab of rich, red paint sharply contrasts, yet enlivens, the surrounding passage of diaphanous blue. There is perhaps the suggestion of a landscape, where the roughness of the gray paint gives way to the airiness of a blue sky, but this landscape, if we can locate one, is more so metaphysical than strictly geographical. As they rub up against each other, the panels of paint rise and fall, thereby lending the composition a certain sense of depth – an almost topographical appearance. However, Holty simultaneously emphasizes the flatness of the canvas, suggesting that the picture plane is a sufficient reality in and of itself.