Jonas Wood - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Thursday, May 10, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Anton Kern Gallery, New York
    Private Collection (acquired from the above in 2007)
    Sotheby's, New York, November 14, 2013, lot 435
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Painted in 2007, Jonas Woods’ Special Cactus is a captivating study in perspective rendered in intimate scale. Reminiscent of the colorful Henri Matisse cutouts that the artist grew up admiring, the present lot simultaneously draws upon the legacy of Cubism, as Wood paradoxically transforms a pedestrian scene into a complex composition by distilling each element to simple shapes rendered in flat color. The potted cactus resting atop a floral tablecloth belies the traditional notion of still life, presenting the observer with a synthesized view from multiple viewpoints in space. The circle of deep brown surrounded by lighter rings becomes the pot’s saucer in aerial view, while a vertical band of darker yellow placed below this shape illustrates a shadow on the table cloth, suggesting a view from an alternate vantage point. Wood further oscillates between abstraction and figuration in the tablecloth, as overlays of color create recognizable floral patterns, while the uniform application of blue flattens the surface of the work.

    To achieve the distortion of space that is essential to his oeuvre, Wood photographs his subjects from multiple angles, collaging these images together and employing drawing to "work out the kinks and...locate what [feels] right." (Jonas Wood, quoted in Amanda Law, “Q & A with Artist Jonas Wood”, Hammer Museum, February 16, 2010, online). Special Cactus is a quintessential early example of Wood’s singular style and use of domestic subject matter. As he surmised of his preference for still life, “Of all the possible things I could paint, the thing that interests me is something that I can get close enough to in order to paint it honestly.” (Jonas Wood, quoted in “Ana Vejzovic Sharp in Conversation with Jonas Wood” Dan Nadel, ed., Jonas Wood: Interiors, exh. cat., Anton Kern Gallery, New York, 2011, p. 56)

  • Artist Biography

    Jonas Wood

    American • 1977

    Boston-born, Los Angeles-based artist Jonas Wood is best known for his colorful, semi-abstract interior scenes and still-lifes. Both in style and subject matter, Wood evokes the work of his predecessors Henri Matisse, Alex Katz and David Hockney. The artist is known to produce paintings, prints, collages and even sculptures with the help of his wife, ceramicist Shio Kusaka. 

    One of Wood’s more distinctive motifs is his repeated use of flattened vase-like forms, often featuring self-contained narratives against a more neutral background. The artist received his MFA from the University of Washington in 2002, and his work can be found in the collections of major museums such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney and the Guggenheim.

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Special Cactus

signed and titled "JONAS WOOD JBRW SPECIAL CACTUS" on the reverse
oil on canvas
22 x 18 in. (55.9 x 45.7 cm.)
Painted in 2007.

$90,000 - 120,000 

Sold for $237,500

Contact Specialist
Rebekah Bowling
Head of Day Sale, Afternoon Session
New York
+ 1 212 940 1250
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 16 May 2018