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  • Provenance

    Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Mark Grotjahn’s series of skillfully rendered butterfly drawings have, over the past two decades, become an icon of 20th century art. The present lot, Untitled (Black and White Butterfly 330) from 2004 is an early example composed of creamy white and inky black chords of radiating tonality. Grotjahn’s butterfly drawings take on a life of their own; like sheet music, the present lot appears to read as a seemingly minimalistic black and white composition yet as the viewer further delves into the sheet more is to be revealed. The slight smudginess to the creamy areas of the paper traces the artist’s process, his hand resting steadily upon the paper while he time stakingly executes his butterflies, like a child pressing their steady pencil into the paper in order to imitate the perfect cursive alphabet. Grotjahn explains that while "The 'butterflies' are fairly planned out. They’re still intuitive, but I generally know where they’re going. It’s a different kind of freedom, a different kind of expressionism. It’s personal without being overly personal." This described self-liberty within his practice is counter-balanced by the multitude of art historical references to which he visually alludes including the perspectival ingenuity of Renaissance art as well as the graphic illusions of 1960’s Opt art. Grojtjahn’s meditative drawing practice, as seen in Untitled (Black and White Butterfly 330), 2004 while partially rooted in historical context gives the sense “that everything’s possible, for me, that’s kind of a given. I don’t feel restricted, or I don’t want to feel restricted, by any rules.” (Mark Grotjahn)


Untitled (Black and White Butterfly 330)

colored pencil on paper
17 x 14 in. (43.2 x 35.6 cm)
Initialed and dated "MG 04" on the reverse.

$100,000 - 150,000 

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

New Now Evening Sale

New York Auction 29 February 2016 6pm