Etel Adnan - Evening & Day Editions London Wednesday, June 7, 2023 | Phillips

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  • “In a tapestry there are colours, dyes and a different sensitivity; it is a different world.”
    —Etel Adnan

    Monumental in scale, Summer is a remarkable example of the Lebanese-American artist Etel Adnan’s multidisciplinary practice and her extended exploration into the medium of weaving. Executed in 2016 for Adnan’s first solo show at a British public institution – The Weight of the World at the Serpentine Gallery in London – the present lot is one of two edition runs inspired by the artist’s 1970 drawing of the same title. Portraying an abstract composition of vivid colours and intricate shapes, Summer is the product of the artist’s extensive engagement with different artistic practices, including painting, drawing, poetry, and weaving. Forming a central aspect of Adnan’s creative output, her woven designs retain the lyricism and vibrancy of her wider oeuvre while representing a distinct dimension of her practice.

    “There was no art museum in Beirut, there were no paintings at home. We had rugs, and the aesthetic pleasure came out of those.”
    —Etel Adnan


    In the early 1950s, inspired by Eastern and Western cultural influences, particularly the dichotomy of Arab and American practices, Adnan began to translate her systematic painterly technique and the rich colours of her canvases into designs for hand-woven textiles. The artist’s fascination with tapestry stemmed from her childhood years spent in Beirut, where she first encountered the intense colours and textures of Persian rugs. While Adnan’s fabric works are inspired by memories of her youth in Lebanon, the artist became actively interested in weaving in the early 1950s during her travels in Egypt. There she met the founder of the Giza Art Centre, the architect Ramses Wissa Wassef, whose weaving workshops advocated for the regeneration and dissemination of the craft and encouraged young artists - Adnan included - to create tapestries based on improvisation, chance and sensory stimuli. In 1968, the artist further developed her understanding of textile techniques in Northern California where she attended weaving courses with the celebrated tapestry artist Ida Grae. 

    “I realised how much materials, for artists, are things that mediate thought… they become the elements of one’s expression, and instead of being just a support, they become in a way a co-author of one’s work.”
    —Etel Adnan

    Vincent van Gogh, Olive Trees, 1889. Image: © Minneapolis Institute of Art, The William Hood Dunwoody Fund


    Inspired by her cross-cultural experiences, Adnan’s textile works are the result of the artist’s interest in the traditional cultures, practices, and methods of Arab and American crafts. Concerned with questions of personal memory and cultural heritage, Adnan’s tapestry designs resemble after-images of an experience that remains particularly vivid. The strong yellows, reds, and blues that characterise the complex composition in Summer create transformative visions that evoke, as the title implies, recollections and feelings of summer. The circular forms depicted in yellow and pink, along with the streaks of explosive colour suggest the sun, sea or sand, eliciting the shadows and light of the artist’s childhood years in Beirut or the Californian mountainous landscapes. Weaved into tessellating blocks of colour, Adnan’s abstracted landscape also recalls the post-Impressionist brushstrokes and saturated palette of Vincent van Gogh’s Olive Trees, paralleling the Dutch painter’s emotional response to his surroundings. Presenting Adnan’s idea of vision as “multidimensional and simultaneous,” Summer becomes a meeting place for multiple images, combined into one sensorial experience. Moreover, by revealing the artist’s sensitivity to colour, the present lot attests to Adnan’s career-spanning commitment to chromatic experimentation and her fascination with the expressive potential of textiles.    






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    • Literature

      HENI Productions E3


Summer (E3)

Jacquard-woven tapestry in colours.
200 x 252 cm (78 3/4 x 99 1/4 in.)
Signed and numbered 7/15 in black felt-tip pen on the fabric label affixed to the reverse (there were also 3 artist's proofs), published by HENI Productions, London.

Full Cataloguing

£20,000 - 30,000 

Sold for £50,800

Contact Specialist
+44 20 7318 4091

Rebecca Tooby-Desmond
Specialist, Head of Sale, Editions

Robert Kennan
Head of Editions, Europe

Anne Schneider-Wilson
Senior International Specialist, Editions

Louisa Earl
Associate Specialist, Editions

Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 7 - 8 June 2023