Kelley Walker - Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, May 10, 2012 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Paula Cooper Gallery, New York
    Private Collection

  • Catalogue Essay

    When I made the recycling signs, I took the sign off a cereal box, enlarged it on the computer, and had it digitally laser cut out of steel. I then made a couple of different skins to cover the signs... Applying these skins allowed the sign to be marked out and/or packaged, and in doing this the signs could then begin to operate in a way that interested me - as a kind of naturalized logo that I could work with and respond to. I wasn’t thinking of literally recycling when I lifted the sign from the cereal box.


    (Kelley Walker, quoted in R. Nickas, “Support Failure,” Kelley Walker, Grenoble & Brussels, 2007, pp. 74-75).

    Inaugurated in 2006, Untitled stems from a body of work which explores, reinvents, and celebrates contemporary symbolism through new media. Here, the recycling symbol has been scanned, enlarged, cut in steel, and finally covered in a mantle of gold leaf. The flat print sign, literally stripped from a cereal box, is transformed into a three-dimensional object. The lustrous surface, as well as the cutouts, allows light to radiate off and pierce through the object, further heightening its dimensionality and luminosity. The direction implied by the arrows creates a never-ending spiraling effect, taunting the viewer to question the orientation of the sculpture, and to engage in a conceptual game with the object and its source imagery. Walker has literally recycled the insignia of recycling itself. However, unlike the mundane cardboard from which the image was cut, this object is endowed with prized and valuable majesty.

    In Untitled, 2007, the medium and the message are launched into an ideological battle; while it symbolizes recycling, it is made of precious gold. The appropriation that defines Walker’s extensive oeuvre highlights the self-reflexivity in art-making, challenging the very conventions of fine art. By politicizing imagery, questioning traditional materials, and manipulating symbols, Walker encourages viewers to engage his works with a critical lens. In its gilded surface, enormous size, and indestructible makeup, Untitled, 2007, deliberately undermines the message engrained in its composition. Instead it highlights the irrelevance of symbols in the modern world as indicative of our ambitions to better our environment, while in reality, we marvel in the excesses of the world. It celebrates the physicality of sign, scale, and material.



gold leaf on laser cut steel
diameter: 58 in. (147.3 cm)

$150,000 - 200,000 

Sold for $182,500

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

10 May 2012
New York