Franz Gertsch - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Saturday, June 28, 2008 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Haas & Fuchs, Berlin; Turske Fine Art, Basel; Patrick Painter, Santa Monica

  • Exhibited

    Kunsthaus Zurich, 18 April – 8 June, 1980; Sprengel Museum Hannover, 22 June – 7 September, 1980 New York, Franz Gertsch; Venice, Museo Correr – Venice Biennale, Pittura – Painting. From Rauschenberg to Murakami, 1964-2003, 15 June – 2 November, 2003; Munich, Pinakothek der Moderne, Franz Gertsch – Patti Smith, 12 November, 2003 – 6 January, 2004; Gagosian Gallery, Franz Gertsch – Patti Smith, 20 January – 28 February, 2004; Kunstmuseum Bern, Franz Gertsch. Die Retrospective, 13 November, 2005 – 12 March, 2006

  • Literature

    Exhibition Catalogue, Kunstmuseum Zuruich, Franz Gertsch, Bern, 1980, pp. 79, 81 and 93, (illustrated); Exhibition Catalogue, Museo Correr – Venice Biennale, Pittura – Painting. From Rauschenberg to Murakami, 1964-2003, Venice, 2003, p. 446 (illustrated); Exhibition Catalogue, Museum Franz Gertsch & Pinakothek der Moderne, Franz Gertsch – Patti Smith, Burgdorf, 2003, p. 27 (illustrated); F. Richard, ‘Franz Gertsch: Gagosian gallery, New York' in Art Forum, May, 2004, p. 205 (illustrated); A. Affentranger-Kirchrath, Franz Gertsch: Die Magie Des Realen, Bern, 2004, p. 91 (illustrated); Exhibition Catalogue, Kunstmuseum Bern, Franz Gertsch Retrospective, Ostfildern Ruit, 2005, pp. 137 & 249 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    "Art history today likes to define itself as the science of images, with one of its central interests focusing on the medium-specific laws of its object...Art – and the discipline of painting in particular – operates at the interface between the visible world and the image, between the image and the reproduction. Modernism developed a love-hate relationship with the idea of reproducing an image from the material world. Traditionally, painting had garnered its praise with the trompe l'oeil reproduction of nature...The new kind of image was perceived as the trace of the moment, which stands in immediate relationship with the movement and speed of ‘modern life'. The documentary gaze of the camera made the confrontation with photography relevant to the development of the segment of art interested in portraying the real as social reality." (P. J. Schneemann, ‘Painting after Photography' in Franz Gertsch Retrospective, Ostfildern Ruit, 2005, pp.29 & 30)
    Best known for his large-scale paintings from the 1970s with his Hyperrealist style, Swiss born artist Franz Gertsch has been fascinated with basing his paintings on pre-existing images. If presenting groups of his friends drinking and hanging out or images of swarms of children running along a beach in a fluorescent haze, Gertsch's work has focused on creating a comprehensive oeuvre of paintings and graphics that takes a very distinctive approach to reality. Alongside American painter Chuck Close, Gertsch has become one of the most influential representatives of photorealist painting, as well as an important point of reference for a generation of young painters today.
    "The Patti Smith paintings mark a watershed in Gertsch's development, a point of transition from being an artist devoted to an almost sociological depiction of a counter-cultural milieu to one intent on presenting himself as a master in a very traditional sense. Executed over the course of two years, the first four in this cycle of five paintings are based on a series of photographs the artist took of the American rock star before a music and poetry performance in a Cologne gallery in 1977. In each of these you see the singer about to perform, walking around the stage, crouching on the floor with her back to the viewer to tune a guitar, or simply flipping through the book she's going to read from. Her face is slightly distorted, not exactly pretty. In many ways she seems to function as a public, universally identifiable version of Gertsch's earlier subjects. Like Castelli, she is a markedly androgynous figure, and her dress style is pure Glam rock: tight red Lurex trousers, army-style boots and an oversized T-shirt. Through her involvement in the New York punk scene and her frequent references to Baudelaire or Rimbaud, this is a woman who has self-consciously packaged herself as a bohemian icon...
    ...The emphasis in these first four paintings in the series is focused less on the singer's body as on the way it is produced through the glittering technology of the performance: the microphones, cables and amplifiers. With Patti Smith V (1979), however, the last painting in the cycle, the focus is clearly different. Painted after a picture of the singer taken during a visit to Gertsch's studio, it portrays Smith alone on a neutral cream." (Mai-Thu Perret, ‘Franz Gertsch' in Frieze Magazine, January-February, 2004, Issue 80)
    With its monumental scale and carefully thought-through colour pallet, this work does not only capture the essence and reality of a photograph, but Gertsch's undeniable attention to detail and precise depiction of each element underlines once again his ability to capture through painting. As a result, his paintings of Patti Smith, do not just act as visual gems, but serve to eternalize its subjects. Using Patti Smith as his female icon – in other words – as his ‘Olympia' the present lot is a painting that captures a scene exuding power and creative dynamism.


Patti Smith IV

Acrylic on canvas.
285.1 x 420.7 cm. (112 1/4 x 165 5/8 in).

£1,500,000 - 2,000,000 

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

29 June 2008, 5pm