Ed Clark - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, November 15, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Collection of the Artist
    Quincy Troupe, New York (acquired directly from the above in 1997)
    Peg Alston Fine Arts, New York (acquired from the above)
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Executed circa 1994, The Dome exemplifies the harmonious, painterly compositions for which Ed Clark is known. With stacked beige and blue bands of color arranged in a tripartite configuration delineated by a gestural oval housed within the canvas borders, the present work showcases Clark’s ability to convey a sense of movement through the application of brushstrokes with a broom. The way that the artist sweeps paint across the canvas in horizontal ribbons illustrates the level of improvised control with which Clark approaches his works. Following Tilton Gallery’s exhibition Ed Clark: Big Bang in 2014 and coinciding with Clark’s inclusion in the highly anticipated New York leg of the traveling exhibition Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power currently at the Brooklyn Museum, The Dome comes to auction at a time of renewed admiration for the abstract painter.

    The artist’s simultaneously dynamic yet soothing arrangements reflect Clark’s inspirations from journeys around the world. After moving from Louisiana to Chicago as a young boy, Clark later attended the Art Institute of Chicago in 1946. In 1952, Clark left to study at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris with the aid of the G.I. Bill. This year marked the start of a life full of travel to places including New York, Crete, Nigeria, Brazil and New Mexico—each of which would influence Clark’s evolving practice in different ways.

    The importance of Paris in defining his painterly process is echoed during the present work, which was most likely painted in one of the artist’s later visits to the city. It was in Paris where Clark would make his first oval picture in 1968 called The Big Egg, currently housed in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture: “I would try to explain why one should paint ovals. I was thinking, ‘We do not see rectangles. Our eyes are oval shaped. Why do we do rectangles?’” (Ed Clark, quoted in Barbara Cavaliere and George R. N'Namdi, eds., Edward Clark: For the Sake of the Search, Belleville Lake, 1997, p. 22). Clark’s decision to incorporate ellipses into his practice harkens back to 1956 when he made his first shaped canvas, often acknowledged as the first of its kind to ever be created. This is one of his lasting contributions to 20th century painting, placing Clark at the center of a circle of artists who have experimented with the motif including Frank Stella, Kenneth Noland and Robert Mangold.

    In a 1997 interview with Quincy Troupe, the American writer best known for his biography on Miles Davis, and to whom the present work was dedicated that same year, Clark described his practice as being influenced by the sound, light and found materials from within the walls of his studio. The combination of these elements with Clark’s use of a broom in what has been coined as his “push broom abstraction” lends itself to the artist’s vigorous compositions. In The Dome, Clark sweeps paint across the canvas lying on the floor. As such, Clark invites the studio into his work, further emphasized by the use of thin artist’s tape placed within the painted surface. In his interview by Troupe, Clark explained this process in detail: “I was making ovals, and then I got the idea of creating the illusion of volume. I was using big brushes, so why not tape the canvas. Now we’re talking about rectangular canvases. The oval would be made and I’d tape over it, block it out and then paint over it. Just before the paint dried, I’d pull the tape off. You get a kind of etched look” (Ed Clark, quoted in Barbara Cavaliere and George R. N'Namdi, eds., Edward Clark: For the Sake of the Search, Belleville Lake, 1997, p. 23). The use of unconventional art materials connects Clark’s painterly process to menial labor, a concept also referenced in the work of his contemporary and close friend David Hammons.

    A champion of Clark’s work, Hammons was the curator behind Tilton Gallery’s 2014 show, often considered the first of many long overdue exhibitions to celebrate the painter’s influence on contemporary painting. Frequently classified as a second generation Abstract Expressionist, Clark has only recently been explained alongside late 20th century painters such as Willem de Kooning. Joined by contemporaries including Stanley Whitney and Sam Gilliam, Clark's work is a reminder that the development of newfound abstract painting practices in post-war America did not discriminate based on race or gender. As the artist himself has said, “Art is not subject to political games; its importance elevates it above any racial differences. Any man of talent, of noble spirit, can make it” (Ed Clark, quoted in “Un musée pour Harlem”, Chroniques de L’Art Vivant, November 1968, p. 15).

  • Artist Biography

    Ed Clark

    American • 1926 - 2019

    Born in pre-Civil Rights era New Orleans, Clark joined the Air Force at age 17 and served in Guam during World War II. Afterwards, he utilized the GI Bill by enrolling in the School of The Art Institute of Chicago and later the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. Perceiving that his race would impact the future of his career less in France than in the United States – he noted that “The French never put race on ID cards”– Clark decided to reside in Paris even after the expiration of his GI bill before settling in New York in the late 1950s.

    Though associated with Abstract Expressionism, Ed Clark continuously and audaciously transformed his artistic language over a career spanning six decades. His experiments with color, form, and shaped canvas are a testament to his restless inventiveness, a quality inspired by the cultures of the many places he’s resided in and traveled to, including New York, Paris, Morocco, Brazil, Greece, Yucatan, Martinique, Nigeria, and China. From his figurative works to his egg-shaped abstract pieces, Clark has always imbued his art with a delicate balance of colorful energy and peaceful tranquility.

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The Dome

signed, titled, dedicated and dated "For Quincy Troupe "The Dome" Ed Clark 12-21-97 CIRCA 1994" on the reverse
acrylic and tape on canvas
57 5/8 x 71 in. (146.4 x 180.3 cm.)
Executed circa 1994.

$120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for $125,000

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

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 15 November 2018