John Gerrard - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale New York Thursday, November 17, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Galerie Ernst Hilger, Vienna
    Private Collection (acquired from the above in 2007)
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    John Gerrard’s desolate landscape scenes have redefined contemporary digital practices over the last decade. Born in Ireland and based in Vienna and Dublin, Gerrard relies not on his homeland for subject matter, but on the oil rigs, open fields and rural vistas of middle-America, resulting in imagery that is not patriotic, but instead overtly realistic and at times tragic.

    The present lot showcases an oil field rendered in the artist’s characteristic real-time computer graphic technique. Animated Scene (Oil Field) from 2007 features an oil derrick, as its moves up and down in constant slow motion. In the background, a gray sky varies in tone with the movement of the clouds, captured in real-time and highlighting the cyclical motion of the oil rig as it works across the landscape. Like the rest of Gerrard’s projections, or self-described “simulations,” it is displayed on a movable flat screen monitor that meets the viewer at eye level. One approaches the piece as if walking into the desolate scene, captivated by the 8-minute sequence which seems to simultaneously move at a slow and rapid pace. The lack of human presence, a feature common in Gerrard’s work, highlights the mechanical nature of the process and the lack of manpower involved. Instead of a human dominating the composition, the oil rig is the main figure, as if posing for a moving portrait. It is both a symbol for the destruction of America’s landscape and a necessary evil in the fabric of our lives, “the defining action of our social realities – of our oil age,” according to Gerrard himself (Blake Gopnik, “Art Review: John Gerrard exhibit at Hirshhorn”, Washington Post, November 5, 2009, online). As Alan Artner describes the effect of the artist’s technical process in his 2008 review of Gerrard’s work, “The pity in the subject comes to viewers subliminally through a visual poem of complexity and power.” (“A new medium emerges at resurgent Artropolis”, Chicago Tribune, April 16, 2008, online). Gerrard’s Animated Scene (Oil Field) thus brings to mind the irrevocable forces of modern mechanization, those which continue to transform the landscape that we occupy, in an aesthetically compelling way.


Animated Scene (Oil Field) 1 (red)

signed, titled, numbered and dated "John Gerrard animated scene (OIL FIELD) 4/6 (Right) 2007" on a card inside artist's box
simulation in artist's Corian frame
overall 59 1/2 x 71 x 25 in. (151.1 x 180.3 x 63.5 cm.)
Executed in 2007, this work is number 4 from an edition of 6.

$40,000 - 60,000 

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

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

New York Auction 17 November 2016