October 12, 2014


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Lot 251: Robert Natkin

Lot 251: Robert Natkin

#6 (Apollo series)

Oil on canvas
Signed, dated, and inscribed verso
Canvas: 85.25" x 67.75"
Provenance: Private Collection, California (gifted directly by the artist);
Private Collection, Los Angeles, California (acquired directly from the above)
Literature: Robert Natkin. Exhibition Catalogue. Philadelphia: Moore College of Art/The Falcon Press, 1976. pp 10-14 for more information on the series; Zona, Louis A, Leda Natkin Nelis, and Ross Woodman. Robert Natkin, A Retrospective: 1952-1996. Warren: Butler Institute of American Art, 1997. np for more information on the series.
Estimate: $10,000 - $15,000
Price Realized: $16,250
Inventory Id: 16251

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Born in 1930 to a family mired in dysfunction and Depression-era poverty, Robert Natkin (1930-2010) found art to be an escape from the darkness of life, and devoted himself to creating paintings that shimmered with light and color. At the age of seventeen, Natkin had an epiphany when he encountered a book on Paul Klee, prompting him to enroll at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He was deeply influenced and affected by the Art Institute of Chicago's comprehensive holdings in Post-Impressionist and Abstract Expressionist painting.

#6 (1963) is a characteristic work from Natkin's pivotal Apollo Series, named after the mythological sun god and referring to the radiance of the paintings. The piece shows the artist at the height of his achievement. Soft, loose stripes of lavender and marigold become taut and invigorated against streaks of bold blues and reds. In what Natkin called "visual vibrato," the tension and contrast between the vertical bands of color are activated, so that the eye sees a greater luminescence and brilliance on the canvas. Like the glowing domestic interiors of Pierre Bonnard and Henri Matisse, artists whose images Natkin tacked up on his studio walls, the Apollo Series is an investigation into the effects and possibilities of intermingling color and light. Today, Natkin's work is held in major public collections across the United States, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and, finally, the Art Institute of Chicago, the galleries of which he rambled as a young student.

Zona, Louis A, Leda Natkin Nelis, and Ross Woodman. Robert Natkin, A Retrospective: 1952-1996. Warren Butler: Institute of American Art, 1997. Print.
"Biography." RobertNatkin.com. Robert Natkin. Web. 21 Aug. 2014.