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

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  • Provenance

    Blum & Poe, Los Angeles

  • Exhibited

    Thun, Kunstmuseum, Mark Grotjahn, 7 September-18 November 2007
    Aspen, Aspen Art Museum, Mark Grotjahn, 17 February-29 April 2012

  • Literature

    Mark Grotjahn, exh. cat., Kunstmuseum, Thun, 2007, p. 38 (illustrated)
    Mark Grotjahn, exh. cat., Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, 2012, p. 73 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Linearity, clarity and a scientific fascination with the optical effects of colour placement, define the artistic oeuvre of Mark Grotjahn. His methodical style of constructing his compositions and then applying paint in unadulterated strips, places Grotjahn firmly in the trajectory of American painting; the twentieth-century movements of Pop Art and Op Art specifically, undoubtedly inspired Grotjan’s experimentations. Barnet Newman’s vast zip paintings are emulated in the vivid, oscillating hues of works such as Untitled (3 Tier Perspective), but what Grotjahn further harks back to is his inherent place within the Southern California art scene. Moving in 1996 to Los Angeles, Grotjahn was quite literally inspired by the visual language of this exuberant city of lights; his style of painting very much grew out of sign making as he would frequently copy unusual logos and slogans from local storefronts. However, perhaps those works most emphatic of his LA environment, are his three-tier perspective works.

    During the 1960s and 1970s L.A. Pop Art became synonymous with the visualisation of the increasing pace of life, urbanisation and growth during this time in the area. With the construction of many highways and the development of an elaborate freeway system that was to connect all of Southern California, the accessibility of travelling long distances was to become an alluring prospect for many. In this context, artists such as Ed Ruscha began exploring notions of speed, car travel and urbanisation in their works. Creating a series of photo books Ruscha documented local roads, gas stations and buildings as seen through a car window driving along a motorway. In a similar manner, Dennis Hopper included the interior of his car in photographs that also showed routes in L.A. Consequently, looking at Grotjahn’s substantial series of works based on the three-tier perspective, one can immediately see an affinity between his works with that of his predecessors.

    Powerful movement and intense velocity are captured in the three sections of Untitled (3 Tier Perspective) as we feel propelled forward at sheer speed – the expanding lines signalling our direction into the horizon beyond. But, which horizon? It seems almost impossible to look at all three sections as a unanimous whole. Grotjahn in this way, challenges our preconceptions of space and perspective. While the linear arrangement of horizontal lines above those that recede into a vanishing point, the artist evidently emulates landscape compositions. However, by repeating these in three skewed sections, he makes us question what we are, in fact, seeing. In some ways, the composition almost brings to mind a photographic film reel where the separate snapshots are connected in a chain though they do not portray a coherent sequence. The imposing scale of Grotjahn’s works further contributes to the sense of overwhelming dislocation that arises in the viewer and, in this manner, the artist cleverly brings to light a key fault in the beholder: ‘the eye is always searching for an implicit point of stability that cannot be found’ (Aspen Art Museum, Mark Grotjahn, Aspen Art Press, 2012, p.62).

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

Ο ◆5

Untitled (Three-Tiered Perspective)

oil on linen over panel
152.5 x 122 cm (60 x 48 in.)

£700,000 - 1,000,000 

Sold for £842,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
[email protected]
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London 14 October 2015 7pm