October 18, 2020


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Lot 134: Guy de Cointet

Lot 134: Guy de Cointet

Untitled (Sticks)

c. 1966
Mixed-media sculpture
27" x 22" x 1.625" (69 x 56 x 4 cm)
Provenance: Private Collection, Palm Springs, California (acquired directly from the artist, c. 1968)
Illustrated: "Post-Performance Painting." Mousse Magazine. M. de Brugerolle. Winter 2019. 210.
Estimate: $6,000 - $8,000
Price Realized: $11,250
Inventory Id: 38134


Nicknamed “the Duchamp of LA,” Guy de Cointet’s enigmatic career expanded the parameters of the conceptual art movement that emerged from 1970s Los Angeles. Born in Paris, de Cointet lived in New York from 1965 to 1968, when he moved to Los Angeles to be Larry Bell’s studio assistant. As Bell recalled, “[de Cointet] was a very eloquent guy but he was very private, very quiet. To pull anything out of him, you had to really go after him.”

De Cointet’s mysterious persona was likely seeded early — as a young man, he developed an interest in cryptography and the riddle-poems of French surrealist Raymond Roussel. As his practice developed, de Cointet continued to explore language through performance and drawing, incorporating random phrases and words gleaned from popular culture. Within his theatrical productions, de Cointet’s paintings and art objects functioned as props for translating feeling and emotion to his audience. As Matthew Brannon wrote of this slippery triangulation of objects, actors, and audience: “We [can] fully understand that the art is not only not the props on the stage, nor the performance itself – but us. Us as an audience watching such a performance.”

Untitled (Sticks) (c. 1966) is considered an immediate predecessor to de Cointet’s works-cum-theatrical-props (or vice versa, as the case may be). Marie de Brugerolle notes in her essay “Post-Performance Painting” that de Cointet most likely made this work in New York, and that it serves as “a link between the ‘ping pong’ paintings that he made just before moving to the United States and the art-object-props that he created for his first performances.”

Brugerolle, Marie de. “Post-Performance Painting.” Mousse Magazine. V. 66. Winter 2019. Brannon, Matthew. “Guy de Cointet.” Mousse Magazine. V. 22. February-March 2010. Finkel, Jori. “Clues to his mystery hang on the walls.” The Los Angeles Times. January 10, 2013.