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  • Provenance

    White Columns Benefit Exhibition + Auction, New York, 2012
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Rugged and primitive, distinctly tactile and dignified in its pronounced features, Mark Grotjahn’s Untitled of 2012 borrows much of the sculptural elements found in his celebrated bronze masks through its keen examination of the painted object. The work is uniquely a manifold composite of painting and sculpture, reaffirming itself as a three-dimensional object while at once softening into a sumptuously painted façade. When hung upon the wall, we find ourselves coming face-to-face with it, somehow without ever becoming aware of our interaction. This intimately-scaled example from Grotjahn’s oeuvre allows its physical composition to create its own kind of subject, though the artist subtlety directs our perspective with the bold text announcing its musical pedigree.

    Oozing almost hallucinogenic energy, Untitled is comprised of oil paint layered in thin geometric waves on a found record sleeve, musician Malcolm Mooney’s name brazenly brushed in black, and a cardboard toilet paper tube planted atop. Coming to fame through his tremendously scaled and richly colored Butterfly paintings, Grotjahn would playfully experiment with empty boxes or cardboard cartons on his studio floor, adhering toilet paper tubes as noses with coarsely painted noses and eyes. Though the present lot lacks the distinguishing facial features of his typical mask, it retains their primal, childlike spirit. Grotjahn has reminisced of his cardboard creations, “I looked at them all the time. And now, I’m watching them become more like traditional paintings. I think you’ll see them influencing my painting in the future. I’m sure of it” (J. Finkel, “Childlike, but Hardly Child’s Play,” International New York Times, May 2014). What Untitled exudes is a profound lyrical spirit, in much the same way that Mooney’s band Can transcended mainstream sensibilities for minimalist musical themes in their psychedelic anthems.



oil paint and collage on record sleeve
12 x 12 x 5 in. (30.5 x 30.5 x 12.7 cm)

$50,000 - 70,000 

Contact Specialist
Rebekah Bowling
Head of Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1250

New Now Evening Sale

New York Auction 29 February 2016 6pm