Mr. Moto

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  • Provenance

    Leo Castelli Gallery, New York; Collection of Robert A. Rowan, Pasadena

  • Exhibited

    Pasadena Art Museum, New American Sculpture, February 11 – March 7, 1964; New York, Leo Castelli Gallery, John Chamberlain, April 11 – 30, 1964; University of California, Irvine, A Selection from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Rowan, May 2 – 21, 1967; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, A Selection from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Rowan, June 2 – July 2, 1967; New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, John Chamberlain: A Retrospective Exhibition, December 22, 1971- February 27, 1972; Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art, John Chamberlain, July 30 – October 5, 1986

  • Literature

    Pasadena Art Museum, New American Sculpture, Pasadena, 1964, Cat. No. 9 (llustrated); D. Waldman, John Chamberlain: A Retrospective Exhibition, New York, 1971, p. 66, pl. 51(illustrated); J. Sylvester John Chamberlain: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculpture 1954 – 1985, Los Angeles, 1986, p. 76 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay


    Chamberlain’s sculpture, with its fractured and convoluted volumes, is totally three dimensional. There is no front or back, no favored view inclining toward the static or planar. The viewer’s eye is taken on an alluring trip over a rolling and cascading topography such as had not been seen since the extravagances of the baroque. Photographs of two different views of one work quite often seem to be two completely different sculptures. Photographs of two different views of one work quite often seem to be of two completely different sculptures.
    By the early 1960’s Chamberlain had become a regular at junkyards and body shops. Sometimes he actually worked in junkyards, but more often he chose and collected pieces to pile up in his studio. Individual pieces were selected for their color and roundness, sometimes to be cut up and reshaped, in the studio, and occasionally even to be touched up or painted over with fresh auto lacquer. Each piece was treated as an individual entity before it was returned to the pile on the floor. Chamberlain used a variety of tools: a slicer, a steel-cutting chisel, an acetylene torch, a band saw, a grinder, a truck, and a compactor. Each tool had a different impact on the metal; the rough edges left by a saw were as pleasing to the artist as the burn marks of the torch.
    After a gestation period, Chamberlain began to assemble some of these worked pieces into a configuration that maximized the volumes and the colors into a unique presence and attitude. Seeking what he regularly refers to as “fit” or “sexual fit”, Chamberlain joined piece to piece, forming a puzzle whose final configuration would not be known until it was completed. Almost all of the car-part sculptures are self-supporting – the pieces hold together without welding – but are spot-welded after completion, so that they could be easily transported and maintained outside of the studio. Sheet steel is relatively soft and malleable and readily receives and retains the acts performed upon it. Chamberlain has an intuitive sense that sheet steel gives about the same amount of resistance as the human body does, and he has acted upon the metal accordingly. Just as his process joins chance and intuition with the prefabricated and the ready-made, it also unites the industrial and the organic.
    K. Kertess, “Color in the Round and Then Some: John Chamberlain’s Work, 1954 - 1985,” John Chamberlain: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculpture 1954 - 1985, Los Angeles, 1986, p. 34

118

Mr. Moto

1963
Painted and chromium-plated steel.
29 x 30 x 27 in. (73.7 x 76.2 x 68.6 cm).

Estimate
$1,300,000 - 1,500,000 

sold for $1,105,000

Contemporary Art Part I

15 May 2008, 7pm
New York