Eddie Martinez - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Wednesday, February 12, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Video

    Eddie Martinez, 'Neanderthal Jeans', Lot 4

    20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale, 13 February

  • Provenance

    Half Gallery, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    New York, Half Gallery, Eddie Martinez. Neanderthal Jeans, 5 June - 15 July 2014

  • Catalogue Essay

    Oscillating between traditional and unconventional modes of creation, Eddie Martinez frequently fuses a variety of materials to produce his visceral paintings and sculptures. Swathes of textures – spanning oil, enamel, spray paint, paper collage and studio detritus – traverse his works with unruly vigour; they conjure energetic humanoids of colour that, despite scrawling in no particular direction, bear an innate sense of orderliness. The resulting aesthetic – chaotic, collage-like, and elegant – bears confounding similarity to the frenzied canvases of Willem de Kooning, Philip Guston and Karel Appel. They fuse the essence of multiple art historical movements and iconographies, including action painting, neo-expressionism, and CoBrA.

    Neanderthal Jeans, 2014, is the fruit of such stylistic amalgamations. With its vivid passages of blue, yellow and red, the abstract image emerges as an explosive deconstruction of Piet Mondrian’s minimalist grid. It strikes the viewer with an incredible mastery of line and colour, as well as a grandiloquent room presence – spreading over the entirety of a two-metre-wide wall. In its spontaneous formation of organic shapes, it furthermore recalls the smooth balance that Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró struck in their masterful alliance of colour and form.

    Yet despite demonstrating masterful balance, the animation within Neanderthal Jeans stems from an impetuous gesture that knows no academic constraints. ‘It’s completely instinctual’, the artist has admitted. ‘I don’t know color theory, and I’m not concerned if I’m doing it right or if I’m doing it wrong. It’s just the way I do it’ (Eddie Martinez, quoted in Ted Loos, ‘Eddie Martinez’s Triumphant Abstractions Land at the Bronx Museum of the Arts’, Cultured Magazine, November 2018, online). It thus appears that, in the hour of painting, Martinez channels an awareness of space and colour that allows him to experience the composition in real time, birthing it in a spontaneous, natural jest. Combining all of Martinez’s most celebrated painterly qualities, Neanderthal Jeans successfully conveys the visual universe that has cemented his oeuvre as one of the foremost of his time.


Neanderthal Jeans

signed with the artist's initials and dated 'EM. 14' lower right
oil, enamel, spray paint and paper collage on canvas
182.9 x 274.3 cm (72 x 108 in.)
Executed in 2014.

£200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for £375,000

Contact Specialist

Olivia Thornton
Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Europe
+44 20 7318 4099
[email protected]


Rosanna Widén
Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+44 20 7318 4060
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 13 February 2020