Dan Colen - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Monday, February 8, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Victoria Miro Gallery, London
    Saatchi Gallery, London (acquired from the above in 2007)
    Private Collection, New York

  • Exhibited

    London, Victoria Miro Gallery, Absent Without Leave, 17 February 2007-17 March 2007
    New York, Acquavella Galleries, White Collar Crimes: Presented by Vito Schnabel, 20 February 2013-26 March 2013

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘I kind of threw paint at in different ways so they end up looking like they are made of bird shit. They vary in size, touch and colour. Some of them look like Pollocks, some look very realistic, others are painterly, some are dumb, some are elegant, some are beautiful.’ (Dan Colen, ‘My Paintings Look Like Shit’, The Guardian, 16 February 2007). Dan Colen is one of the most radical contemporary artists; together with Ryan McGinley and Nate Lowman, Colen has formed the Bowery School that aims at revolutionising the formal language of painting and overcoming traditional media. Colen has created an extensive corpus of works using disparate materials, such as chewing gums, dirt and also flowers.

    Birdshit is an irreverent work that fully epitomises the intention of the artist to employ oil paint as a subversive instrument to imitate other media, in this case birds’ excrements. This lot comprises four works produced between 2006 and 2007 where Colen has energetically splashed paint onto the canvas in order to create realistic compositions that remind of several birds’ droppings and make us wonder whether what we see is real. In his unique way of using the traditional medium of oil paint, Colen draws inspiration from illustrious precedents in the history of art. Birdshit is similar to the paintings of Jackson Pollock, executed with the so-called ‘dripping technique’: both artists share an innovative element of performing whilst painting. As Dan Colen has claimed regarding the Birdshit series: ‘What excites me is the idea of hypothetical pigeons being the performers, rather than me, so all the shit is the residue of their activity’ (Ibid.)

  • Artist Biography

    Dan Colen

    American • 1979

    American artist Dan Colen has spent most of his career asking himself questions about the editorial decisions artists have to make when creating a scene from scratch on canvas. In his early work, Colen painted mundane interiors punctuated with fantastical elements. This manifested as part of a growing curiosity in the ethereal or divine intervention.

    Colen subsequently stepped away from paint as material and started using found objects as mediums with which to paint. Among these, Colen has used chewing gum, street trash, confetti, feathers, flowers and dirt. This methodology allows Colen to abandon control and create in a more free-form, subconscious manner.

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Four Works: Untitled (Bird Shit)

oil on canvas
(i) 61 x 45.4 cm (24 x 17 7/8 in.)
(ii) 71.2 x 55.9 cm (28 x 22 in.)
(iii) 70.5 x 55.2 cm (27 3/4 x 21 3/4 in.)
(iv) 70.5 x 55.9 cm (27 3/4 x 22 in.)

Each signed and dated on the overlap.

£100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for £86,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London

+44 207 318 4063

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 9 February 2016 7pm