Subtle and ethereal, several works in the June 10, 2018 Modern Art & Design auction appear almost minimalist in nature. However, the works by Mary Corse, Larry Bell, and Helen Pashgian each have an underlying complexity that has taken decades to perfect.
When Cy Twombly’s work first emerged in the early 1950s many critics scoffed at the deeply expressive gestures, scribbles, drips, and scratches that have come to firmly secure his place as one of the most innovative artists of the 20th century. “My line is childlike but not childish,” the artist once offered in response to criticism pegging his work as simplistic and lacking in clear technique. “It is very difficult to fake … to get that quality you need to project yourself into the child’s line. It has to be felt.” The emotional caliber of Twombly’s elegantly orchestrated compositions is palpable. Chock-full of fluid starts and stops, erasures, and replacements, which all lend a manuscript-like quality to his canvases. And while the same highly animated, lyrical scribbles and gestural scratches might be evocative of graffiti, Twombly himself shied away from such identification. “Graffiti is linear and it’s done with a pencil, and it’s like writing on walls. But in my paintings it’s more lyrical,” he explained.
Remarking on a new body of smaller-scaled sculptures by Tony Rosenthal, including Mother and Child (1953), in the November 1953 edition of Arts & Architecture then-Chairman of the Department of Art at UCLA, Gibson Danes, described the artist’s recent bronze works as being “lyrical with the gaiety and gravity of a superbly wrought ballet.” “Although autonomous and independent creations,” he continued, “these new works imply an architectural setting. They envelop and electrify the expansive dimension of their ordered world.” Rosenthal’s abstract, geometric sculptures continually embraced a play with seemingly irreconcilable binaries.
Born in the former Yugoslavia, long-time Los Angeles-based artist Vasa arrived in the United States just in time to help significantly shape what would become known as the Light and Space movement, which found its nascence in 1960s California. “I came to the United States because of Abstract Expressionism,” he notes in a recent monograph. “Instead, I found Minimalism, and more.” That “more” would lead to a long career focused on an elaborate investigation into the phenomenology of light, optics, color, volume, scale, and, ultimately, perception.
When Brooklyn-based artist Nicole Eisenman’s bold, idiosyncratic work first hit the walls of New York galleries in the early nineties, no one knew how to respond. Was it a feminist revision of art history? A disruptive “queering” of trite scenes culled from popular cartoons and commercial culture? A satirical psychoanalytical take on the monstrousness of public and private human experience? The answer, it turns out, was all of the above and then some. With its unique blend of lucid and imaginative elements, and gloriously awkward merging of the banal with the absurd, her 1992 Bacon-esque portrait Jew Drag King eludes simple categorization. The work is an inversion of mainstream conventions synthesized with counterculture lifestyles, creating a figurative language distinct to Eisenman.
From Peter Loughrey, Director of Modern Design & Fine Art:
There are a few rare examples of artwork that have gained historical relevance far beyond the creator’s expectations. I find this portfolio to be one of those cases.
Los Angeles Modern Auctions is pleased to offer Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup I, a 1968 limited edition portfolio of ten silkscreen prints on paper, at the May 17 Modern Art & Design Auction. Campbell’s Soup I is a major work in the Andy Warhol canon. In these prints, Warhol returned to the subject of his first solo show as an artist and to that which made his name: Campbell’s Soup Cans, a group of 32 silkscreened paintings on canvas with hand-lettering (now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York). The 1968 Soup Cans prints here represent a refinement of that work. With the use of the mechanical silkscreen technique, he removed the direct hand of the artist from the artistic process. After Warhol, artists would be seen not only as makers of compelling objects such as painting and sculpture, but also as makers of ideas.