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

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  • Provenance

    Gordon Locksley Gallery, Minneapolis (acquired in 1969)
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Literature

    Julie Sylvester, John Chamberlain, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculpture 1954-1985, New York, 1986, no. 93, p. 64 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Wrought in twisted, colorful metal atop a corkscrew-shaped carved wooden base, Tiny Piece #7 is an exquisite example of John Chamberlain’s early practice. Executed in 1961, it is the final example of only seven works comprising the artist’s Tiny Piece series, of which other examples resides in the collection of Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice and at one point in the private collection of Marcel Duchamp. Perfectly demonstrating how Chamberlain explored notions of scale while working with salvaged automobile parts in the 1960s, these intimately sized works exude much of the same power and expression found in the monumental sculptures Chamberlain would begin creating in the 1970s. Retaining the lightness, directness and spontaneity of the artist’s hand, Chamberlain has here elevated his painted tin sculpture atop a carved wooden base, at once heightening the sense of magnitude contained within the compressed sculpture and playfully infusing the salvaged, found material with a grandeur traditionally associated with classical sculpture.

    Chamberlain’s tactics of crushing, squeezing, compression and combination have made his work a transitional point between traditions of Abstract Expressionism and Pop art. Chamberlain’s application of vibrant turquoise and orange shades reify the bright, mass-produced colors of the original Detroit-made automobile parts in this work, realizing the saturated pigment of abstract canvases in the three-dimensional form of painted tin. The process of assemblage is characteristic to Chamberlain’s method, which he has described as extremely intuitive and spontaneous in nature, seeking harmony in carefully chosen fragments.

    Created the same year as Chamberlain’s inclusion in The Art of Assemblage at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Tiny Piece #7 speaks of an artist at the precipice of critical acclaim. Beginning in 1962 Chamberlain showed frequently at Leo Castelli Gallery in New York, and in 1964 his work was exhibited at the Venice Biennale. It is testament to Chamberlain’s pioneering practice that Marcel Duchamp, the very pioneer of the readymade, acquired a work from the Tiny Piece series and included it in his seminal 1966 exhibition Homage à Caissa in New York.

Property from the Miles and Shirley Fiterman Collection


Tiny Piece #7

painted tin
sculpture 4 3/4 x 4 1/8 x 3 1/8 in. (12 x 10.5 x 8 cm.)
base 11 5/8 x 3 5/8 x 3 1/2 in. (29.5 x 9.3 x 9 cm.)
overall 16 3/8 x 7 3/4 x 3 1/2 in. (41.5 x 19.8 x 9 cm.)

Executed in 1961.

$150,000 - 200,000 

Sold for $150,000

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

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