Joe Bradley - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Wednesday, November 16, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Peres Projects, Berlin
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    "I hold onto the body because I just can’t make an abstract painting. There’s just always a story that I have to make happen."
    Joe Bradley

    Since moving to New York over a decade and a half ago, Joe Bradley’s ever-evolving practice is anything but simple to define. While firmly rooted in painting, the astounding variety of styles and approaches he employs makes him one of the most interesting contemporary painters working today. To date, his multifarious body of work includes minimalist-inspired modular monochromes, primitive scrawls reminiscent of cave-painting, black, screen-printed silhouettes suspended in white expanses, and dirty canvases treated with saturated, overlapping colors and shapes.

    Frankenstein, executed in 2010, is an important work that marks a pivotal moment in Bradley’s career. During this time, he was preparing a new body of work for his first solo exhibition at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, Foot and Mouth Painting. Two years earlier, just after his highly praised presentation in the 2008 Whitney Biennale, Bradley abandoned his sleek “modular” monochromatic works for primitive compositions made with grease pencil on raw canvas. The resulting, shockingly simple Schmagoo Paintings elicited divisive reactions, but paved the way for the artist’s development of a unique visual vocabulary, which led MoMA curator Laura Hoptman to define him as “someone shaving Expressionist painting to its essence.”

    After stripping his art down to its essentials, he started adding color back in and transformed his primal forms into disorderly masses on raw canvases that weren’t truly figurative or abstract. Like the fictional character from which the work takes its title, Frankenstein cobbles together disparate elements—bold green and black lines, a swath of purple, a raw canvas backdrop marked with studio detritus—that come together to form a powerful and disquieting composition.

    Artist and critic Phong Bui described the success of these works in a 2011 interview with the artist, “While the lines are reduced and simple, they are in fact very physical, and while the surfaces look spare, they have just enough of an accumulated history of wrinkles, dust, and undetectable stains to create their own patinas." (Joe Bradley and Phong Bui, "In Conversation: Joe Bradley with Phong Bui," The Brooklyn Rail, February 2011)

    The title of the present lot also calls to mind a later development in the artist’s constantly changing oeuvre where he would eventually sew together multiple canvases to form larger, more complex compositions. It’s this perpetual evolution that makes Bradley’s work so compelling, leaving us to wonder where his artistic journey will lead next.



signed and dated "Joe Bradley 10" on the overlap
oil and spray paint on canvas
88 1/8 x 75 1/8 in. (223.8 x 190.8 cm.)
Executed in 2010.

$500,000 - 700,000 

Sold for $346,000

Contact Specialist
Kate Bryan
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1267

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 16 November 5 PM EST