Cory Arcangel - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, May 17, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Team Gallery, New York
    Private Collection, London
    Private Collection, New York

  • Exhibited

    Salt Lake City, Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Analogital, January 18 - April 20, 2013

  • Catalogue Essay

    “Isn’t it the whole job of art to let new things in the door?” – Cory Arcangel

    A kaleidoscope of psychedelic color radiates from Cory Arcangel’s Photoshop CS: 84 by 66 inches, 300 DPI, RGB, square pixels, default gradient, "Blue, Red, Yellow" (turn reverse off), mousedown x=4000 y=5350, mouse up x=20000 y=1200, 2011, enveloping the viewer into a realm where modern technology and abstract painting collide. Created in 2011, the same year that Arcangel became the youngest artist since Bruce Nauman to have been given a full floor solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, this vast work is a quintessential example of his Photoshop Gradient Demonstrations series that anchored Arcangel’s reputation as one of the leading contemporary artists exploring the intersection of digital technologies and art. Since 2008, Arcangel has created works such as this one through a simple click of the computer mouse in the image-processing software Photoshop, using default gradient templates typically used for image backgrounds as a ready-made. While the present work’s title supplies the exact x and y coordinates of this gradient, Arcangel has redirected the purpose of the technology to create a work that deliberately pays irreverent homage to such abstract painters as Ellsworth Kelly.

    Challenging the delineation of authorship and the status of the art object, Arcangel crucially transforms the dematerialized image from the computer through the highest technical standards, printing the image on photographic paper and exposing it to laser, and subsequently mounting and framing. As Arcangel explained of this process behind the Photoshop Gradient Demonstrations, “I think about them as paintings, because they refer to the history of painting...I also have to think about them as sculptures, because every part of the process is part of the project” (Cory Arcangel, quoted in Mary Heilman, “Interview”, Interview Magazine, March 21, 2011, online).

    Though often heralded as a poster child for the “post-Internet” generation of artists, Arcangel’s work offers an intriguing dialogue with art history. At the same time as the New York-based artist plays on the legacy of American Color Field painting, he also engages with strategies of appropriation, manipulation and reconceptualization of pre-existing imagery that was borne out of Marcel Duchamp’s readymade and variously pushed into new conceptual pastures by Andy Warhol in the 1960s and The Pictures Generation in the late 1970s and 1980s. Like these predecessors, Arcangel has taken as his subject the popular culture which surrounds him. For someone coming of age in the 1980s and beginning his studies in the mid-1990s, this has been the realm of open-source computer and video technology. As painter Mary Heilman observed, “for a generation that essentially evolved from birth alongside their Ataris, Commodores, ColecoVisions, and Nintendos, the crude digital landscapes, bleeping primary-colored graphics, and foreshortened three-dimensionality of computer-generated worlds have been burned in the memory perhaps as deeply as the layout of a childhood house” (Mary Heilman, “Cory Arcangel”, Interview Magazine, March 21, 2011, online).

    It was whilst studying at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 1996 that Arcangel first had access to a high-speed internet connection, which inspired him to start learning to code and major in music technology. Ever since, he has developed a unique artistic practice that spans internet-based interventions and the repurposing of tools and systems like Youtube, Garageband and Photoshop. While this may recall the Futurists in their awe of modern technology, Arcangel is drawn to video games, software and the internet both for their ability to rapidly engender new communities, and for the speed of their obsolescence. As Arcangel explained, “I wait for culture to swim by me, and then I snap it up” (Cory Arcangel, quoted in Miranda Siegel, “The Joys of Obsolescence”, New York Magazine, May 15, 2011, online). Indeed, Arcangel first garnered critical acclaim in the early 2000s for tongue-in-cheek works that reworked retro game technologies, such as Super Mario, and even his Photoshop gradients reference a software that is now widely used by amateurs. As Christiane Paul noted on the occasion of Arcangel’s Whitney Museum exhibition, his works “ultimately do not evaluate technology itself but the human perspective on it—the ways in which we play with tools to engage the world” (Christiane Paul, Cory Arcangel: Pro Tools, exh. brochure, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2011, p. 28).


Photoshop CS: 84 by 66 inches, 300 DPI, RGB, square pixels, default gradient, "Blue, Red, Yellow" (turn reverse off), mousedown x=4000 y=5350, mouse up x=20000 y=1200

c-print face mounted to Diasec, in artist's frame
image 83 3/4 x 55 1/2 in. (212.7 x 141 cm.)
artist’s frame 87 x 69 in. (221 x 175.3 cm.)

Executed in 2011.

$150,000 - 200,000 

Sold for $399,000

Contact Specialist
Amanda Lo Iacono
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1278

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 17 May 2018