Eddie Martinez - New Now London Thursday, December 9, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Vacillating between Jean-Michel Basquiat’s street poetry, Philip Guston’s darkly humorous portraits and the faux naivety of Paul Klee's compositions, Untitled is a quintessential example of Martinez’s playful artistic expression that has garnered him worldwide critical acclaim over the past decades.


    Unapologetically walking the line between abstraction and figuration, the self-taught Brooklyn-based artist has nurtured an exhaustive artistic process that blends elements from his personal experience and historical movements such as action painting, neo-expressionism, and popular culture that captivate him. Famously recognised for his monumental expressionistic paintings, Martinez has developed an energetic, spontaneous, and fast-paced creative process that consists of blowing up his drawings and silk-screening them to large-scale canvases.

    'It’s sort of like a boxing ring in here, it’s a very physical process. Maybe I’m a little bit addicted to that.'
    —Eddie Martinez

    The re-contextualisation of cultural elements Martinez borrows from diverse sources and their innovative reconfiguration is highly characteristic of his ‘universal’ pictorial language. Executed in 2007 and drawing on an almost surrealist language reconfigured into vivid hues of sunset orange, olive green, fleshy pink, and sky blue, the present work is supremely representative of the artist’s distinctive visual vocabulary. Like a child scribbling on his parent’s bedroom walls, Martinez recklessly discharges his emotions in his frenetic canvases, which become kaleidoscopic renderings of snapshots from his personal life. 


    The red and white rectangular backline of Untitled acts as the battlefield of a chess board game in which Martinez confronts Guston’s iconic bean heads, and Basquiat’s gliding yard-birds and skull. Other team players as Yayoi Kusama’s blue pumpkin displayed on the left-hand side, a tall, grey rook, and a Christmas tree appear to be joining this festive chessboard game, beginning to resemble a colourful Lego world of joyous toys that disarm viewers and create an entrancing world of their own. Martinez himself often alluded to his impatient nature when working in the studio, releasing the inner child that lives in him. ‘I get super giddy when the silk screened canvases of the drawings come in and it’s like five big colouring-book pages’i.


    Paul Klee, Senecio, 1922, Kunstmuseum, Basel, Switzerland, Image: Bridgeman Images

    Rising to artistic maturity and institutional acclaim in monumental fashion, Martinez’s work has been the subject of institutional solo shows at museums including the Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York; the Drawing Center, New York, and is included in public collections such as the Saatchi Collection and Hiscox Collection, London; Colección Jumex, Mexico City; the Marciano Collection, Los Angeles; the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, Philadelphia, Morgan Library & Museum, New York; and the Davis Museum, Wellesley.


    i  Eddie Martinez, quoted in ‘Eddie Martinez Whistles While He Works: New York Close Up’, Art21, June 15, 2012, online

    • Provenance

      Aliceday, Brussels
      Private Collection, Dallas
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Brussels, Aliceday, Eddie Martinez: Darkness, 16 February - 17 March 2007

    • Literature

      Glenn O’Brian, Eddie Martinez: Paintings, New York, 2013, p. 87 (illustrated)



signed and dated 'E MARTINEZ 07' lower right
oil, oil stick and spray paint on unstretched canvas
Unstretched canvas 182.9 x 287 cm (72 x 112 7/8 in.)
Framed 201.5 x 324 cm (79 3/8 x 127 1/2 in.)

Executed in 2007.

Full Cataloguing

£200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for £466,200

Contact Specialist

Simon Tovey
Specialist, Head of New Now Sale
+44 20 7318 4084

New Now

London Auction 9 December 2021