André Butzer - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Thursday, October 13, 2022 | Phillips

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  • "I name the future with the past and again the other way around. I believe that all chapters are constantly being written and that we must bear witness to everything."
    —André Butzer
    Rendered in André Butzer’s iconic cartoon-meets expressionist style, Landlich (2)  portrays a single, female protagonist set against a painterly green background. At first figurative in sense, her non-representational features, such as ballooned head and rounded shoulders, err more on the side of abstraction, a quality further accentuated by the more biomorphic forms, a lack of a nose and ears. Her eyes recall Japanese animé, and a small welcoming smile brings life to her limited features, bursting with life and connection. Whilst the backdrop of the piece is empty, her interactive gaze goes beyond the limits of the canvas, creating imagined depth. The viewer is encouraged to contemplate the world of Nasaheim, a fictitious planet created by the artist whose name combines NASA with the city of Anaheim, where Disneyland is located. The central figure, or “golden woman” as Butzer likes to call her, appears in many of his canvases, accompanying various other characters from this imagined utopia who play different roles. In this case, she acts as a mediator between the mundanity of contemporary life and Nasaheim, bringing chromatic joy into the world with her stark white shirt collar which stands out against the rich green surroundings, or her green and yellow chequered jumper which could be an abstract canvas in itself.


    Standing in contrast to Butzer’s earlier ‘N-Bilder’ paintings, which are darker in colour and more reduced in form, Landlich (2) builds on Butzer’s earlier Nasaheim works created whilst living in Los Angeles. The present work symbolises a significant moment in Butzer’s practice, reconciling with the return to his German homeland and personal feelings of displacement, and his colourful and joyful practise from his time living in California. After moving to Los Angeles as a young child, he became preoccupied with themes of isolation and deracination after he found himself lost and unfulfilled with the realities of his childhood dreams. ‘Landlich,’ which means ‘rural’ in German, thus reflects the return to his birthplace. The expressive handling of colour is highly emotive; the thinly applied greens surrounding the character blend with her correspondingly coloured shirt, as they become one and the same, reflecting Butzer’s reintegration. His earlier work, Untitled, created in Los Angeles in 2019, features the same character but enveloped within a blue background, contrasted against her yellow and orange shirt, colours more synonymous with California. This comparison highlights Butzer’s position as an expressive colourist, attesting to his employment of colours potential not only to describe the outside world through pathetic fallacy but moreover to describe the intricacies of the inner human condition in the modern world. Nasaheim is the vehicle for this exploration as ‘a non-place where colours are stored for eternity.’i

    "There is no choice with colour. It's all about colour or it's nothing. Nothing is not so good."
    —André Butzer

    André Butzer, Untitled, acrylic on canvas, 2019.
    André Butzer, Untitled, acrylic on canvas, 2019. Image: Courtesy of TASCHEN

    Combining 20th Century art history with 20th Century mass culture, Butzer’s style has become globally recognised as a product of one of the most important contemporary Neo-Expressionists. His inspiration ranges from the most eminent Expressionist painters of the 20th century, notably Edvard Munch and Philip Guston, and earlier figures such as Piero della Francesca, to early animations of Walt Disney, comic books, and western mass culture. Pulled together they amalgamate into a wholly unique artistic language. Butzer calls his style “Science-Fiction Expressionism,” an intensely dynamic arrangement of chromatic figurations, gestural brushstrokes, and childlike, nostalgic imagery. These elements, which are incorporated into large canvases, comment on the light and dark of contemporary culture and society, simultaneously fluttering between figuration and abstraction, past and future, existing within a realm of their own. Various juxtapositions are brought to play; isolation and togetherness, joy and gloom, intergalactic space exploration and closeness to home, life and death. 
    In this vein, Landlich (2) is representative of solitude and belonging. Alone in an expanse of green but looking with interest to one of her fellow inhabitants of a cosmic world, the figure personifies Butzer’s sentiments, feelings which are relatable to anyone who has experienced cultural or geographic uprooting, a sense of otherness, or re-establishment. Landlich (2) is one of Butzer’s most recent works executed in this unparalleled approach to painting and must be considered a centrepiece within his oeuvre and overall artistic expression. 
    Since his 2003 debut at Galerie Max Hetzler, Butzer has been the subject of countless international solo exhibitions. Most recently, he has had solo shows at major institutions including the Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover; Kunsthalle Nuremberg; and the Yuz Museum, Shanghai. His work forms part of the collections of Carré d’art, Nîmes; the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin; MONA, Tasmania; the Rubell Family, Miami; MOCA, Los Angeles; and the Marciano Collection, Los Angeles, among various others. Last year, a major monograph of his work was published by Taschen.


    i Galerie Max Hetzler, André Butzer, Paris, March - April 2017, online.

    • Provenance

      Galerie Max Hetzler, Paris
      Acquired from the above by the present owner


Ländlich (2)

signed, titled and dated ' "Ländlich" (2) A. Butzer '22' on the reverse
acrylic and graphite on canvas
244 x 203 cm (96 1/8 x 79 7/8 in.)
Painted in 2022.

The work is registered for inclusion in the Catalogue raisonnée of André Butzer.

Full Cataloguing

£80,000 - 120,000 ‡♠

Sold for £107,100

Contact Specialist

Simon Tovey

Specialist, Associate Director, Head of Day Sale, 20th Century & Contemporary Art
+44 20 7318 4084

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 13 October 2022