John Chamberlain - Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, November 15, 2012 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Julia Fahey, New York
    Saron Ullman, New York
    Jon Leon Gallery, New York
    The Pacesetter Corporation, Omaha
    Sale: Sotheby's New York, Contemporary Art Part II, May 19, 1999, lot 303
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Birmingham, Robert L. Kidd Galleries, John Chamberlain, May 21 - June 18, 1983
    New York, D'Amelio Terras, Four Sculptures, January 8 - February 12, 2000
    New York, L & M Arts, John Chamberlain: Early Years, May 5 - June 27, 2009

  • Literature

    R.L. Kidd, John Chamberlain, Robert L. Kidd Galleries, Birmingham, 1984, n.p. (illustrated)
    J. Sylvester, John Chamberlain: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculpture 1954-1985, 1986, cat no. 493 p.139 (illustrated)
    M. Rosenthal, John Chamberlain: Early Years, L & M Arts, New York, 2009, pp. 54-55, 56-57 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Chamberlain’s sculpture navigates a delicate balance between the harsh, brutal folds and innovative effortlessness. Chamberlain demonstrated his rambunctious nature in the vibrancy and liveliness of his work, which, despite the density of the material, is full of movement and fluidity. Demonstrating an acute sensitivity to his materials, the artist was aware of when to stop manipulating his materials and innately knew when a work was finished. He believed in finding the natural connections between scraps of metal, allowing their shapes, colors, and jagged edges organically dictate the final composition. Rather than focusing on the previous life of his materials as automobile parts, Chamberlain left the past behind. This sensibility marked his departure from preconceived notions of the materials in order to create new meaning and significance.

    Like many of Chamberlain’s works, the present lot, Ivory Joe, 1974 / 1977, invites the viewer to walk around it and witness the evolution of the piece. The title comes from the riffs he collected from friends and colleagues. Chamberlain kept a list of over a thousand entries on one-word cards and chose titles by cobbling together words based on the way they looked together–proving to be a collagist in yet another sense. Instead of describing his pieces, his titles define their spirit. The crumpled metal configuration of the current lot has a long, straight bar extending outward reaching towards the base but not quite touching it. It is also shown turned on its other sides, granting multiple viewing experiences. Here, rust, remnants of paint, and various metal textures and surfaces of this multifaceted work emphasize its industrial past while unfolding in poetic abstraction.


Ivory Joe

1974 / 1977
painted and chromium plated steel
overall: 33 1/2 x 62 1/2 x 68 in. (85.1 x 158.8 x 172.7 cm)
Signed and dated “John Chamberlain ‘74” on the steel element.

$600,000 - 800,000 

Sold for $542,500

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

15 November 2012
New York