John Chamberlain - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale - Morning Session New York Wednesday, November 15, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    O.K. Harris Works of Art, New York
    Robert King, New York
    Anita Friedman Fine Arts, New York
    B.C. Holland and Co., Chicago (acquired in 1984)
    Ralph and Helen Goldberg, Chicago (acquired in 1984)
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Toronto, Sable-Castelli Gallery, Ltd., Survey—Part I, February 14 - March 6, 1976
    New York, Marisa Del Re Gallery, Found Objects, June - July 1983

  • Literature

    Julie Sylvester, John Chamberlain: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculpture 1954-1985, New York, 1986, no. 538, p. 148 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    John Chamberlain’s Lucy Snaggletooth is a stunningly potent affirmation of the artist’s stylistic and technical achievements first realized at the beginning of his career in the 1960s. By the mid-1970s, Chamberlain had come back to using the discarded and contorted auto-parts that had formed the majority of his acclaimed early works but which he had temporarily disavowed after feeling pigeonholed by their success. Works such as Lucy Snaggletooth, from 1976, represent his triumphant return to a medium that would become synonymous with his idiosyncratic practice.

    Wall-bound in three dimensions, Lucy Snaggletooth pulsates with Chamberlain’s particular creative sensibilities. Melding the expressive use of color found in the work of his Abstract Expressionists predecessors with the Americana-Pop inflection of the found car parts, Lucy Snaggletooth is a luscious example of Chamberlain’s wall-relief works. Chamberlain described himself as “basically a collagist. I put one thing together with another thing. I sort of invented my own art supplies.” (John Chamberlain, quoted in Susan Davidson, John Chamberlain: Choices, New York, 2012, p. 27) A vibrant orthogonal of vermilion serves as the foundation for the piece, flanked by a deep crimson on the left and wonderfully cut through with the black racing stripes of the original Chevy Corvette Stingray (as seen in the hood ornament subtly embedded within the composition), while a cliffhanger of polished chrome leans out and over the top edge. The beauty of the work is grounded in its compositional elements, so clearly evocative of their prior lives as car parts, now imbued with new creative powers. Lucy Snaggletooth brims with Chamberlain’s unbridled energies; bound to a wall, the present lot commands the room in which it is installed.

    The genius of Lucy Snaggletooth lies not just in the sheer marvel of the metal, shot through with color, contorted and bound and almost weightlessly suspended, but also in Chamberlain’s innate ability to transform an act of ruin into an act of creation. As he began to understand the specifics of welding and experimenting with the engineering of form, Chamberlain discovered that the physical framework of mounting objects to a wall provided him the freedom to explore more bulbous and daring compositions. An elegant structure born of detritus and chance, Lucy Snaggletooth reaffirms the very basis of modernism’s working ideal that the purpose of art can be its own making.

Property from a Distinguished American Collection


Lucy Snaggletooth

painted and chromium-plated steel
36 x 30 x 21 in. (91.4 x 76.2 x 53.3 cm.)
Executed in 1976.

$400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for $543,000

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

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale - Morning Session

New York Auction 15 November 2017