Stella Tomlinson Court Park (First Version) (Study)

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Six Friedrich, Munich
    Hans-Jürgen Müller, Stuttgart
    Christie's, New York, Contemporary Art Day Sale, November 9, 2005, lot 464
    Galerie Sho, Tokyo
    Sotheby's, New York, Contemporary Art Day Auction, May 13, 2009, lot 165
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Literature

    L. Maculan, ed., Sturtevant: Catalogue Raisonné 1964-2004, Ostfildern-Ruit: 2004, no. 225, p. 103

  • Catalogue Essay

    "If you use a source-work as a catalyst, you throw out representation. And once you do that, you can start talking about the understructure. It seemed too simple at first. But it’s always the simple things that work." Elaine Sturtevant, 2005

    Conventional notions of originality and authorship are radically cast aside in the paintings of Elaine Sturtevant, whose work spearheaded the development of appropriation art. The present lot, Stella Tomlinson Court Park - First Version, is a direct copy of Frank Stella’s 1967 painting of the same name. With unabashed precision, Sturtevant replicates Stella’s minimalist piece in order to question historical notions of creativity and the artistic process. Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Claus Oldenburg, and Jasper Johns were all taken as inspiration for the appropriation works that Sturtevant began in 1965. A contemporary of these artists, she often adapted pieces soon after they were conceived. Many of Sturtevant’s selections have accrued iconic status, attesting to her keen aesthetic eye and prodigious foresight in identifying major shifts in post-war American art.

    The source image for the current lot, titled Tomlinson Court Park, belongs to Frank Stella’s striking Black Paintings series. Working in the late 1950s and 1960s, Stella turned away from abstract expressionism to create reductive, non-representational paintings. In his Black Paintings, color and composition are minimized to an extreme, leaving white lines to create illusionistic, geometric effects on black canvas. The series was ultimately championed as one of the earliest forms of Minimalist Art, and in 1990 Sturtevant reproduced many of the Black Paintings for an exhibition at Rhona Hoffman Gallery in Chicago.

    In Stella Tomlinson Court Park (First Version) (Study) Sturtevant makes minor departures from Stella’s original. The weight of her white lines and the size of the canvas are not exactly the same. These slight alterations allow Sturtevant to embody Stella’s style, while also refreshing it with new energy. Her stated purpose was to “expand and develop...current notions of aesthetics, probe originality, and investigate the relation of origins to originality and open space for new thinking” (Sturtevant, “Original,” Symposium Salzberger Kunstverein (Hrsg.). Ostfildern: Hajte Cantz, 1995, S. 133.). Being highly conceptual and using little created content, the true subject of Sturtevant’s work is the reflection, thinking, and analysis that occur when a spectator is confronted with a replication. Seen within the larger context of Sturtevant’s Warhol Flowers, Johns Flags, and Duchamp readymades, Stella Tomlinson Court Park (First Version) (Study) is part of a larger, conceptual study of aesthetic development. Curator Peter Eleey claims, “In some ways, style is her medium…She was the first postmodern artist…” (Margalit Fox, The New York Times, May 16, 2014). With her replications, Sturtevant builds a layered, composite visual narrative to underscore the impossibility of wholly original expression in a global culture that thrives on recycling ideas and styles.


Stella Tomlinson Court Park (First Version) (Study)

enamel on canvas
44 x 56 1/4 in. (111.8 x 142.9 cm)
Signed, titled and dated "Sturtevant '90 'Stella Tomlinson Court Park' (First Version) (Study)" along the overlap.

$100,000 - 150,000 

sold for $557,000

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Amanda Stoffel
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New York
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Contemporary Art Evening

New York Auction 13 November 2014 7pm