Peter Doig - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, May 18, 2017 | Phillips
  • Video

    Surface Surveillance: Looking for a Way Into Peter Doig’s ‘Rosedale’

    "Doig is able to incorporate an eerie feeling into the painting- it's as if the manor is being watched, or even approached by a wanderer from the woods. There's a tension you can feel from the surface like a still from a thriller." Francesco Bonami on Peter Doig's masterful 'Rosedale', 1991, on view now at 450 Park Avenue in advance of our 18 May 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale.

  • Provenance

    The Artist
    Pearl Assurance, Peterborough
    Victoria Miro Gallery, London
    Private Collection, United States
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Whitechapel Artist Award: Peter Doig, August 2–September 22, 1991 (illustrated in exhibition brochure)
    Bremen, Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst, Peter Doig: Homely, June 22-August 25, 1996
    Kunsthalle zu Kiel; Kunsthalle Nürnberg and London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Peter Doig: Blizzard Seventy-Seven, March 8 – August 16, 1998

  • Literature

    Gareth Jones, "Weird places, Strange folk", frieze, issue 6, Sep-Oct 1992, p. 26
    Peter Doig Blotter, exh. cat., Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin, 1995, no. 2, pp. 24-25, 55 (illustrated)
    Robert Enright, "The Eye of the Painting: An Interview with Peter Doig", Border Crossings, issue 98, June 2006
    Richard Shiff and Catherine Lampert (eds.), Peter Doig, New York, 2011, p. 33 (illustrated)
    No Foreign Lands, exh. cat., Scottish National Gallery of Art, Edinburgh, 2013, pp. 16-17 (illustrated)
    Peter Doig, exh. cat., Fondation Beyeler, Basel, 2014, fig. 6, p. 83 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    An exceptional early work at auction for the first time, Peter Doig’s Rosedale, 1991, signals the emergence of a young master. Heralding the artist’s breakthrough moment after graduating from Chelsea College of Art and Design, Rosedale was painted for and shown in his celebrated solo exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, having won the prestigious Whitechapel Artist Prize. 26 years following his debut at the Whitechapel show, Doig received the Whitechapel Gallery Art Icon 2017 lifetime achievement award, distinguishing him as one of the most innovative and significant painters of his time.

    Taking a grand Rosedale manor in Toronto’s ravine as its subject, Rosedale’s richly detailed surface is comprised of abstract gestures that coalesce to reveal a home through the static of snow and thicket. Doig described painting Rosedale, which he executed based on his own photographs, as “through the screens of nature”, painstakingly building up fragments of the house through the dense labyrinth of trees. Riffing on art historical and pop culture references ranging from Richter, Pollock, Bonnard, and Munch to record covers, vintage postcards, and Doig’s own archive of photographs and memories of his early experiences in Canada, Doig, through his visual play of impasto and glazes, conjures the cinematic quality of a vintage film reel and the nostalgic glow of memory.

    The year 1991 was particularly formative in Doig’s career: he was selected for the Barclays Young Artist Award at the Serpentine gallery and won the prestigious Whitechapel Artist Prize. Opening when Doig was only 32 years old, the Whitechapel show would serve as the catalyst for his career. With the exhilarating opportunity to exhibit in the upstairs gallery of the influential institution at the same time as Cindy Sherman's show on the main level, Doig painted a series of large scale paintings for his exhibition including Rosedale (1991), Iron Hill (1991), Young Bean Farmer (1991), and the Architect’s Home in the Ravine (1991). The artist recalled, “The year after I left Chelsea I was awarded The Whitechapel Artist Prize, so I got a show of my new work at the Whitechapel Gallery, upstairs. Cindy Sherman's show was on downstairs. I remember walking my paintings, which were still wet and in cheap decorator's plastic, between her incredible crates” (Peter Doig, quoted in Parinaz Mogadassi, “Interview with Peter Doig”, Purple, April 2011). These seminal works would come to represent the most enduring themes in his practice.

    Spanning nearly eight feet in length, Rosedale presents itself like a cinematic scene. The tableau invites the viewer in. Through the static of snow, the viewer searches for the flicker of light from a window. Doig described the subject in this work as “a house in a kind of old posh neighborhood in Toronto called Rosedale, where a lot of the houses are built on quite big lots, and nature has been allowed to create a sort of privacy screen for the people who occupy them. And so I took a number of photographs of these houses, through the screens of nature, and I made a number of paintings of these houses where I tried to paint the house through the trees, rather than if I was actually a voyeur or something like trying to look at this house, rather than painting the house and put the trees over it. So they were quite difficult and time consuming to make these works” (Peter Doig, quoted in “Slade Contemporary Art Lecture Series 2015-16”, UCL Slade, London, July 4, 2016, online).

    Standing in front of Rosedale, the viewer is dazzled by the intricate surface of the painting. The freshness of the painting comes from the inventiveness of painterly technique. A study in abstraction, the richly detailed surface is dotted with Pointillist dabs of paint, and gestural drips akin to Pollock’s action painting suggest the figurative forms of a landscape and the feeling of snow. Inspired by Bruegel’s snow-filled visions, Doig observes, “when you look at [Breugel’s painting] the snow is almost all the same size, it’s not perspectival, it’s the notion of the ‘idea’ of snow, which I like. It becomes like a screen, making you look through it” (Peter Doig, quoted in Richard Shiff, "Incidents", in Peter Doig, exh. cat., Tate Britain, London, 2008, p. 30). The drifts of snow, created by overlapping passages of mottled impasto and translucent veils in the foreground, create a sense of slippage. The snow effectively dissolves into abstraction as if the viewer is peering ahead to the warm hearth beyond, the eyes attempting to focus through the flurries.

    Across a vast panoramic expanse, the foreground is punctuated with regular horizontal bands of snow flurries. This geometric gridding infers an erudite knowledge of the principles of Modernist abstraction employed by Barnett Newman. The reference to Newman’s “zip” paintings suggests that the linear quality of the painting has the possibility to effect a sublime response in the viewer. As Doig has explained, “painting is about working your way across the surface, getting lost in it... [The size of paintings] is about the idea of getting absorbed into them, so you physically get lost” (Peter Doig, quoted in Richard Shiff, “Incidents” in Judith Nesbitt ed., Peter Doig, exh. cat., Tate Britain, London, 2008, p. 33). In the distance, the landscape is divided into bars of olive green, ochre, and sapphire. These oscillating bands share a dialogue with Mark Rothko’s diaphanous planes of floating translucent color. Disrupting the formal geometry of the composition, stark trees are staggered through the mid-ground, recalling the formal ordering of Klimt’s late landscapes. Using the fanned edge of a paintbrush, Doig skillfully captures the effect of strong light filtering through the trees and the patches of snow and shadows on the earth below. Clearly, Doig’s experiments in paint have informed his practice. The chromatic lozenges and cloissionist treatment of the low brick wall on the left hand side of the canvas share an affinity with the multicolored dam in Gasthof zur Muldentalsperre (2000-2002) housed in the collection of The Art Institute of Chicago.

    Significantly, Rosedale represents a moment of critical consciousness in Doig’s practice where he developed a “new way of looking”. Back in his studio, Doig painstakingly built up fragments of the house through the dense network of trees in the composition, based on his own photographs taken on location. Departing from the static photograph, the energy of Doig’s brush is palpable. Hatched dabs of paint animate the snowy foreground and thicker, deliberate brushstrokes fill in the details of the house through the network of branches. He recalls, “I was trying to describe to someone the way I made those paintings: I deliberately painted the buildings through the trees rather than paint the building and then cover them in trees. Even with the modernist buildings, I didn’t paint the façade and then put the trees over them, I actually painted them through the trees, so it was more about looking and picking out bits with the eyes. It’s a much slower process. There’s one painting called Rosedale, which is a view of a grand Rosedale manor through the trees from a snapshot I took, where I literally picked my way at it. It was a way of seeing into that world” (Peter Doig, quoted in Robert Enright, “In the Eye of the Painting: An Interview with Peter Doig”, Border Crossings Magazine, Issue 98, June 2006).

    This “different way of looking” developed in Rosedale – looking through dense layers of trees to buildings beyond – eventually induced Doig to create his celebrated Concrete Cabin series first shown at Victoria Miro Gallery, London in 1994. The artist recalled how Rosedale “led me to make paintings of a minor Le Cobusier building…” (Peter Doig, quoted in Slade Contemporary Art Lecture Series 2015-16, UCL Slade, London, Jul 4, 2016, online). Looking at the Concrete Cabin series, on which Doig focused from 1991-1998, one is struck by how many works are now housed in museum collections, including the Concrete Cabin (1991-1992) in the Leicester Arts and Museum Service and Boiler House (1994), a promised gift to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

    In contrast to the utopian ruins of the Le Cobusier compound, Rosedale is a vision of domestic coziness. In London, Doig yearned to create pictures he described as "homely", a concept innately linked to the uncomplicated comfort of home. In this way Doig’s houses embody the Danish concept of hygge, a word used to acknowledge the feeling of simple pleasure taken in a moment of coziness. When reflecting on another house painting of this year, The House that Jacques Built (1991), Doig poignantly reflected that “[it] reminded me of a house in a Hopper Painting… where the house seems to be as present and human as the couple itself” (Peter Doig, quoted in Slade Contemporary Art Lecture Series 2015-16, UCL Slade, London, July 4, 2016, online).

    Evoking an uncanny sense of nostalgia, the play of abstract processes produces an otherworldly realm akin to Bonnard’s dreamlike imagery. In particular, Doig felt the use of snow “somehow has this effect of drawing you inwards and is frequently used to suggest retrospection and nostalgia and make-believe” (Peter Doig, quoted in Paul Bonaventura, “A Hunter in the Snow”, Artefactum, no. 9, 1994, p. 12). Returning to Doig’s principle concern with the material possibility of paint, Rosedale prompts a philosophic enquiry into the way we see. As Searle identifies, “Doig is of course, playing an ironic game with painting itself. Blobs of snow are also a blizzard of paint. Briars and vines are tangles of drips and brush strokes. A painting’s surface can never be truly penetrated, because it is, quite literally, all there is to see, however much we might entertain the idea that the landscapes and figures and buildings are actually multiple, parallel worlds to our own, and inhabited by people much like ourselves, who move from place to place, appearing and disappearing from sight, just as we do to others, and others do in relation to us” (Adrian Searle ed., Peter Doig, London, 2007, p. 86). In this way,Rosedale is a celebration of the inherent possibilities of paint and its ability to convey emotional expression.

  • Artist Biography

    Peter Doig

    Scottish • 1959

    Peter Doig is widely considered one of the most renowned contemporary figurative painters. Born in Scotland and raised in Trinidad and Canada, Doig achieved his breakthrough in 1991 upon being awarded the prestigious Whitechapel Artist Prize and receiving a solo exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London.

    Doig draws on personal memories and source imagery in his pursuit of exploring the slippage between reality, imagination and memory through painting. The material properties of paint and expressive possibilities of color thereby serve to approximate the foggy, inarticulate sensation of remembering. His practice maintains a thin and balanced line between landscape and figure, superimposing photographic imagery and memories, both real and imagined.

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signed, titled, inscribed and dated “”Rosedale” PETER DOIG LONDON 1991” on the reverse
oil on canvas
78 1/2 x 94 1/4 in. (199.4 x 239.4 cm.)
Painted in 1991.

Estimate On Request

Sold for $28,810,000

Contact Specialist
Kate Bryan
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1267

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 18 May 2017