Mark Grotjahn - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Tuesday, October 13, 2015 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Gagosian, New York
    McCabe Fine Art

  • Catalogue Essay

    Mark Grotjahn’s wide-reaching artistic oeuvre can crudely be divided into two broad categories: the Faces and the Butterflies. The latter of these is associated with an analytic regularity emphasising strict angularity and colour dissection, while the former negates any order or clarity in favour of texture and spontaneity. Untitled (Blue Eyes Brown Hanging Perforated Mark M3.d) as the title suggests, falls into the Faces group. As part of Grotjahn’s more recent chapter of artistic development, these works mark a distinct shift away from painting into sculpture. However, a defining characteristic of these pieces is, conflictingly, their inherently painterly surface made possible through Grotjahn’s elaborate and unique creative process.

    “[Producing these sculptures] was a way of winding down from how attentive the other work was. I was trying to let go of the intensity that was involved in the other kind of art making. But I did really like these. In my mind, though, I thought of them as an exercise, as something very personal and not for public consumption.”
    Originally using cardboard boxes and tubes to mesh together a mask-like form, Grotjahn shrouded his collection of sculptures in secrecy for over a decade, continuing to add to his sculpted faces, but never exposing them to the public eye. In many interviews he consequently referred to them as diaries, extremely personal and intimate objects that perhaps acted as manifestations of his own personas. It was only after he decided to have them cast in bronze that Grotjahn began to find closure through the process of solidifying these fragile works in such an enduring medium. His technique of painting with his hands and fingers on top of the bronze surface – scraping away and smearing on paint in an almost Action-painting style - helped retain the physical connection between the finished sculptures and the artist.

    The technique Grotjahn uses creates a highly encrusted surface texture; the shape of the eyes, the truncated nose and mouth anchors the work in the figurative realm without fully distancing itself from the abstract. The naive manner of rendering these primal free-standing portraits harks back to the paintings and sculptures by Picasso that were strongly influenced by primitive cultures and specifically carved African masks. Meanwhile, the riotous crescendo of colour employed by Grotjahn in these works brings to mind a distinctly Abstract Expressionist lineage.

Property from the Estate of Dr. Fredric S. Brandt, Miami


Untitled (Blue Eyes Brown Hanging Perforated Mark M3.d)

painted bronze
52 x 34.5 x 17 cm (20 1/2 x 13 5/8 x 6 3/4 in.)
This work is unique.

£100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for £116,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London 14 October 2015 7pm