Julia Wachtel - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale New York Wednesday, May 17, 2017 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Provenance

    Vilma Gold, London
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Literature

    Julia Wachtel, exh. cat., Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 1991, n.p. (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Landscape No. 13 (backyard) from 1990 encapsulates Julia Wachtel’s subversive use of appropriated imagery as a form of social commentary in a singular image. Throughout her prolific career over the past few decades, Wachtel has established herself as a master in the utilization of paradoxical subject matter to instigate an emotional reaction. The present lot belongs to the artist’s series of Landscape paintings, begun in the 1980s, all of which feature newsworthy political imagery interwoven with cartoon caricatures from pop culture. In Landscape No. 13 (backyard), Wachtel breaks the canvas into six distinct, vertical sections. Five of these outer sections illustrate a destructive political scene, wrought with rundown buildings in a nameless wasteland. In stark juxtaposition, the sixth section located in the inside part of the composition features a cartoon donkey with an umbrella atop his head, adorned with a whimsical expression of crossed eyes, a lazy tongue and turned out feet with mismatched shoes. Despite the dark imagery sandwiched around this playful figure, the composition retains a sense of joyfulness. The monochromatic image of destruction is itself washed over with a gradient of neons, while the donkey stands starkly against a bright white background. As such, Wachtel subversively suggests the similarity of these two types of imagery—real world news and imaginary cartoons. Despite the very different messages portrayed by each in the media, the artist reminds the viewer that both come from the same source, whether television or newspaper. As she explained of the series, “I see the cartoon characters as witnesses reflecting the existential condition of exposure to the global reality of horror and deprivation that exists somewhere on earth all the time. Whether it’s famine, civil war, genocide, etc., we are exposed to these realities and updated continuously in real time” (Julia Wachtel, quoted in “Julia Wachtel on Kimye and the Champagne Life”, Whitewall, March 14, 2014, online). In today’s day and age, Wachtel’s themes of technology and its power as illustrated in art feel all the more poignant. With her inclusion in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s present show, Fast Forward: Painting from the 1980s, as well as in recent shows at the Bergen Kunsthall and Walker Art Center in 2014 and 2016, Wachtel’s oeuvre is celebrated for its timeless relevance.



Landscape No. 13 (backyard)

signed and dated "Julia Wachtel 1990" on the overlap of the fifth part; further signed "Julia Wachtel" on the reverse of the same part
oil, Flashe and lacquer on canvas, in 6 parts
overall 60 x 110 1/4 in. (151.8 x 280 cm.)
Executed in 1990.

$60,000 - 80,000 

Sold for $68,750

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

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

New York Auction 17 May 2017