Miquel Barceló - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Wednesday, November 15, 2023 | Phillips
  • Amongst streaks of white and gauzy cerulean, dark line drawings in charcoal give Miquel Barceló’s Ull de Perdiu, 2004, its title. Directly, it translates to "partridge’s eye" in Catalan, and it is also the name of a fig variety from Catalunya. Figs appear scatted across the canvas alongside a partridge with an exaggerated neck in the left corner in near-surrealist combination of subjects. 


    Born in Felanitx, Majorca in 1957, Barceló’s work follows in the tradition of Catalan artists such as Joan Miró with its flat, multi-focal composition removed from specificities of time and space. His choice of fruit and fowl as subject matter also pays homage to Spanish still life paintings of pantry items, or bodegónes, although wholly reimagined. Instead of being neatly arranged on tables or in bunches, Barceló’s subjects are strewn across the canvas in a contemporary take on paintings such as Juan Sánchez Cotán’s Still Life with Game, Vegetables and Fruit, 1602.


    Juan Sánchez Cotán, Still Life with Game, Vegetables and Fruit, 1602, Museo del Prado, Madrid. Image: Erich Lessing / Art Resource, NY

    Ull de Perdiu also draws upon another lifelong interest of the artist—his preoccupation with water. Barceló’s childhood terrain consisted of cliffs and caves next to the sea, which would come to serve as inspiration for his vivid blue paintings. Barceló’s seascapes seem to blend sky and water, cloud and foam, creating an aura of transience. While the composition of Ull de Perdiu is removed from reality, its atmospheric quality and rich tonality conveys a lush seascape and is emblematic of the artist’s oeuvre. 


    The year Ull de Perdiu was created was a pivotal period for the artist. In this year Barceló became the youngest living contemporary artist to exhibit work at the Louvre in Paris with a series of watercolors illustrating Dante’s Divine Comedy. This moment also represented a significant juncture in the artist’s career when his paintings became increasingly simplified, veering away from narrative elements to focus on the textural and material possibilities of paint.


    Barceló is known for the physicality of his painting, which is exemplified in Ull de Perdiu. White impasto peaks leap from the surface of the canvas while brown-green patches of underpainting are revealed at the edges. The heavily layered, richly worked media creates a sense of bursting well-suited to the brimful composition. Movement is also essential to Barceló’s works. In an interview in 2021, the artist mused how painting is akin to snorkeling: “you are floating and you go inside and you come back, and you go inside and you go back up. To me it is a bit like that. This physicality is very important in my work.”i Ull de Perdiu is exemplary of this: from the white paint pulled across the base, to the thickly applied textural passages, to the charcoal outlines of the fruit and game, the artist’s touch is palpable throughout. 



    i  Miquel Barceló, quoted in Alain Elkann, “Interview with Miquel Barceló,” Alain Elkann Interviews, December 12, 2021, online.

    • Provenance

      Galerie Bruno Bischofberger, Zurich
      Private Collection
      Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2012

    • Exhibited

      New York, C&M Arts, Miquel Barceló, January 25–March 5, 2005, no. 4, pp. 8, 16–17, 47 (studio view illustrated p. 8; illustrated p. 17)

    • Artist Biography

      Miquel Barceló

      Spanish • 1957

      Drawing inspiration from work by Diego Velázquez and art-making practices of the Avant-garde, Miquel Barceló is perhaps most popular for his hybridization of traditional Spanish figurative aesthetics and thick, abstract brushstrokes. Barceló is inherently drawn to that which is multimedia, having received training in installation work, painting and ceramic. This ability to work across various mediums comes from the artist's hunger for travel and exploring new lands.

      Currently based between Mallorca, Mali and Paris, Barceló incorporates the visual aesthetics of his disparate countries seamlessly into his work. The artist's concern involves how to translate different modes of travel and culture into art-making. One recurring topic in his body of work is the ocean — the ultimate symbol of movement, displacement and the unknown.

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Ull de Perdiu

signed, titled and dated "ULL de PERDIU Barceló 2004" on the reverse
mixed media on canvas
63 x 76 3/4 in. (160 x 194.9 cm)
Executed in 2004.

Full Cataloguing

$150,000 - 250,000 

Sold for $177,800

Contact Specialist

Patrizia Koenig 
Specialist, Head of Sale, Afternoon Session
+1 212 940 1279 

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 15 November 2023