Jiro Takamatsu - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Tuesday, May 14, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Belonging to the artist’s iconic series of Shadow paintings, Jiro Takamatsu’s Shadow (No. 1400) embodies the series’ inquiry into the formal origins of painting. Although simplified to ghostly contours simultaneously opaque and transparent, Takamatsu’s subjects retain a certain personality and precision that resemble the phantom figures seen in a submerged, half-developed photograph. The contours of the figure of a child are rendered in hazy gray against the stark white canvas, suggesting rather than declaring the presence of the child. Completed just a year before the artist’s death, the image reminds us of the fleeting nature of life.

    As a key member of the Mona-Ha movement and founder of the minimalist art collective Hi Red Center in post-war Tokyo, Takamatsu is renowned as a seminal postwar Japanese artist. In 1964, the artist began the Shadow series after he became disillusioned with his studies at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, attempting to harken back to the simplicity of the origin of painting. Inspired by images of shadows in 19th-century Japanese woodcuts, and reminiscent of Plato's seminal cave allegory, Takamatsu instigated Shadow Painting in order to investigate the formal underpinnings of painting and probe his interest in “seeing the act of seeing”, resulting in the series that has become the artist’s most celebrated body of work. In their often larger than life format, the shadow paintings ironically literalize the act of a portrait itself, which enshrines a mere reflection of its subject in time immemorial. An exceptional example of the series, Shadow (No. 1400) engages the mind in realms of fantasy and memory and questions the possibility of seeing clearly outside of portraiture’s material matrix.


Shadow (No. 1400)

signed, titled and dated "JIRO TAKAMATSU 1997 No. 1400" on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
86 x 115 in. (218.4 x 292.1 cm.)
Painted in 1980/1997.

$180,000 - 250,000 

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261
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20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 15 May | On View at 432 and 450 Park Avenue