Mark Grotjahn - Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Wednesday, May 15, 2013 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Blum & Poe, Los Angeles

  • Catalogue Essay

    “The horizontal and vertical lines are rarely, if ever, horizontal or perpendicular to the edges of the canvas. I think it throws the works slightly of kilter.”
    MARk GROTJAHN, 2010

    Mark Grotjahn has created a purely delightful universe all to his own: handmade vortexes of butterfly patterns, lines intersecting and colors paralleling in a dazzling display. It follows that his work has received critical acclaim. In 2012, the Aspen Art Museum staged a major retrospective of Grotjahn’s butterfly paintings and drawings furthersignaling his position as a master of contemporary abstraction.

    The present lot carefully articulates Grotjahn’s iconography—in juxtaposing red, yellow, black and white. Mirroring the paintings, Butterfly, 2002 is beautifully orchestrated; the rich details of the artist’s hand are revealed in the heavy line, here in colored pencil. The result is a mesmerizing starburst that that radiates from several independent centers—a technique that references Renaissance-era perspective.

    The concentricity of the artist’s pattern recalls the works of op-art’s elite: Bridget Riley and Victor Vasarely. But Grotjahn’s pictures rise above simple geometric provocation: “Mr. Grotjahn’s [pictures] emanate an otherworldly light. But his use of the butterfly form turns into a cruciform structure, suggesting, in a literal versus metaphoric way, that God is present in the details”(B. Goodbody. “Art in Review; Mark Grotjahn—Blue Paintings, Light to Dark, One through Ten”, New York Times, February 16, 2007.

    Over the course of nearly two decades, Grotjahn has excited our awareness of perspective, geometry, and spatial color relationships. His bi-winged drawing, rendered painstakingly gorgeous in crimson red, deep gray and canary yellow pencil, draws our eyes directly into its double center, where a central vertical line bends and thickens as a result of illusion. The measured proximity of Grotjahn’s design pulsates from its two central axes, yielding two infinite and opposite horizons—their vanishing points are elusive. Grotjahn’s Butterfly, 2002 is as much a perpetual search for the viewer as it is a wonderful display of dazzling color. He inspires us to both scrutinize and be transfixed by his art.



colored pencil on paper
23 x 19 in. (58.4 x 48.3 cm.)
Initialed "M" and "G" in lower right and left corners; further signed and dated "M. GROTJAHN 2002" on the reverse.

$200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for $473,000

Contact Specialist
Zach Miner
Head of Sale
[email protected]
+1 212 940 1256

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York 16 May 2013 7pm