Jiro Takamatsu - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Thursday, June 24, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Jiro Takamatsu’s Shadow No. 1398 belongs to the artist’s iconic series of Shadow paintings, an important chapter in the artist’s oeuvre that began decades before in 1964. The subjects depicted in these paintings are each simplified to their basic contours but are rendered with enough precision to signify a certain persona. The figures range in size and, seemingly, in age, suggested by the proportions utilized. The present lot, created just a year prior to his death, depicts what is assumed to be the shadow of a baby against a bright white background in typical trompe l’oeil fashion, rendered in a soft gray acrylic. With arms outstretched in apparent motion, the figure moves across the canvas from left to right, reminding us of the fleeting nature of a shadow.


    As a key member of the Mona-Ha movement and founder of the minimalist art collective Hi Red Center in post-war Tokyo, Takamatsu was influential in breaking the traditional boundaries between high art and everyday objects. 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, as defined by the Greek scholars. The art of painting was thought to have begun with the tracing of a shadow, and thus began Takamatsu’s foray into the depiction of such subjects, the series that has become the artist’s most well-known body of work. In their life-size format, the artist’s shadow canvases become staged figments of the walls on which they hang, reminding viewers of their subjects’ implied presences, which are confined to the boundaries of the canvas. A superb example from the Shadow series and housed in the same collection since its creation, Shadow No. 1398 serves as a reminder of the transitory nature of passersby and the enigma that surrounds their pasts and futures as they move from one place to the next.

    • Provenance

      Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

    • Literature

      Akira Ikeda Gallery, Jiro Takamatsu: Shadow Painting 1997, Tokyo, 1997, n.p. (illustrated)


Shadow No. 1398

signed, titled and dated "JIRO TAKAMATSU 1997 No. 1398" on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
85 5/8 x 114 1/2 in. (217.5 x 290.8 cm)
Painted in 1989/1997.

Full Cataloguing

$150,000 - 200,000 

Contact Specialist

John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261


20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 24 June 2021