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

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  • Provenance

    Pace Gallery, New York (acquired directly from the artist)
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    New York, PaceWildenstein, John Chamberlain, Recent Work, February 14 - March 15, 2008
    New York, PaceWildenstein, A Walk in the Park: Outdoor Sculpture at PaceWildenstein, June 19 -July 24, 2009
    Beijing, The Pace Gallery, Beijing Voice: Leaving Realism Behind, November 19, 2011 - February 12, 2012
    Zuoz, Pace at Chesa Büsin, Carte Blanche, February 20 - March 30, 2014

  • Literature

    Daniel Kunitz, "John Chamberlain's Heavy Metal", The New York Sun, February 21, 2008, online
    Phyllis Tuchman, "Reviews – John Chamberlain", Art in America, November 2008, p. 19 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Executed in 2008, INCIDENTALLYNEUTERED exemplifies the relentless innovation with which John Chamberlain continued to push the medium of sculpture into an entirely new realm. Painted stainless steel is twisted, folded and coiled into a kaleidoscope of color and material, embodying the force and motion of the Wheel series from which it comes. Through his unparalleled approach to what was once a prosaic material, the steel is transformed into a dynamic vortex that evokes an impossible weightlessness and imbues the work with an endless centrifugal force. It’s title, INCIDENTALLYNEUTERED, reflects the sculptor’s poetic sensibility explored while attending Black Mountain College in the mid-1950s, when he developed the tradition he would uphold throughout his oeuvre: writing down specific words to which he was drawn, and then scrambling these notecards and selecting words at random to determine the perfect title for a completed work.

    In contrast to the earlier works which rescued and reimagined discarded and forgotten materials, INCIDENTALLYNEUTERED articulates the artist’s shift to creating more delicate and whimsical sculptures in the last decade of his life—its deep folds resembling the soft curves of drapery through his distinct visual idiom. The ribbons of steel comprising INCIDENTALLYNEUTERED first appear when Chamberlain proposed an underwater sculpture to be sited in Donald Judd’s outdoor pool in Marfa, Texas, which later became the Chinati Foundation. As the undulating bands could not be cut from rust-prone automotive steel, Chamberlain’s preferred material, he began exploring the use of these thin strips of stainless steel. While the work went unrealized at the time, he finally completed this vision in 2005 with an extraordinary piece entitled Neptune’s Cap. This decade-long investigation of stainless steel culminated in Chamberlain’s Wheel series, of which there are fewer than 20 works total, varying in scale from minimal to monumental.

    Chamberlain furthers his experimentation with stainless steel by bedecking the chrome with dashes of yellow, green, blue and red paint, prior to fitting the elements in place. In describing Chamberlain’s masterful approach and use of color, Donald Judd famously declared he was “the first…to use color successfully in sculpture” (Donald Judd, “John Chamberlain by Donald Judd”, in John Chamberlain: New Sculpture, exh. cat., Pace Gallery, New York, 1989, p. IV). In the earliest works by Chamberlain, it was the chosen materials’ original colors that Chamberlain made use of in constructing his sculpture; however, it was in his later works that he began to paint the elements, as beautifully evidenced in INCIDENTALLYNEUTERED, prior to their undergoing his commanding touch.

    While the Wheels series displayed a new sense of motion and lightness to Chamberlain’s work, its centrifugal and spiraling force is evidenced in some of Chamberlain’s earlier works. In Penthouse #50, 1969, as well as his squeezed aluminum foil sculptures from the mid-1980s, we see the sculptor's unrivaled ability to make heavy metals impossibly pliable and obedient. With its ribbons of steel that stretch and unfold out of its twisting core, INCIDENTALLYNEUTERED vividly echoes Chamberlain’s observation that his works “have a physical feeling of dance” (John Chamberlain, quoted in Richard D. Marshall, “John Chamberlain Interview”, Whitewall, Fall 2009, p. 105).

Property from a Distinguished New York Collection

Ο ◆161


painted and chromed-plated steel
61 x 103 x 37 in. (154.9 x 261.6 x 94 cm.)
Executed in 2008.

$300,000 - 400,000 

Sold for $475,000

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