Lee Ufan - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, November 16, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    A quintessential example of Lee Ufan’s iconic From line series that was acquired directly from the artist, From line No. 800152 offers the viewer a meditative and wholly immersive experience. Executed in 1980, the monumental composition epitomizes the systematic, almost ritualistic, method of painting that Lee, the key theorist of the Mono-ha movement developed in Tokyo in the mid-1960s, pioneered with this series between 1973 and 1984. Each work in the From line series is created with the same dual pro-cess of action and structure, strict choice of material, and an awareness of breath and bodily stance. Working with the canvas laid on the ground, Lee loads a round-tipped paint-brush with a combination of powdered cobalt blue pigment and carefully pulls it with the full weight of his body vertically across the expansive canvas. Following the strict philosophic prin-ciple of ikkaisei (irreversibility) of the Japanese ink-painting tradition, Lee succes-sively sweeps his brush in a single breath without layering or modification as he moves from left to right across the canvas. In this synchronized and controlled process of painting, Lee intention-ally allows for the gradual unloading of the pigment towards the bottom of the canvas – resulting in a cascading blue veil that dissipates into near nothingness.

    It is through the meditative act of repetition that Lee seeks to formally express a concept of infinity. From line No. 800152 perfectly epitomizes Lee’s dictum: “A line must have a beginning and an end. Space appears within the passage of time and when the process of creating spaces comes to an end, time also vanishes” (Lee Ufan, quoted in “Lee Ufan: From line”, Tate, online). As a temporal record of continual repetition – rather than a conven-tional spatial composition – From line No. 800152 invites the viewer to meditate on the perpetual passing of time. "The object before the eyes and the image in the mind are all constructed of points and lines, expressed in rhythm with the rising and falling of the breath. Because of this, the viewer…can observe the dynamic relationship between the painting and the canvas, the condition of the painter’s body, the movement of his heart, his character, and the atmosphere of the age” (Lee Ufan, quoted in "Using a Brush”, 1975, in The Art of En-counter, London, 2008). Viewing the repetitive yet distinct brushstrokes in From line No. 800152 as they traverse the canvas and coalesce into a larger unified whole, we are encouraged to view time as a process of continual becoming.

Property from an Important Korean Collection


From line No. 800152

signed and dated "L. UFAN 80" lower right; further signed and titled "From line No. 800152. Lee Ufan" on the reverse
oil and mineral pigment on canvas
51 x 63 7/8 in. (129.5 x 162.2 cm.)
Painted in 1980.

$800,000 - 1,200,000 

Sold for $1,395,000

Contact Specialist
Amanda Lo Iacono
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1278

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 16 November 2017