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  • Provenance

    Private Collection

  • Catalogue Essay

    To Nate Lowman, America is a country built on violence. His famed bullet holes punch through gallery walls, crashing a matrix of Pop culture influences into a decisive graphic statement. Warhol and Lichtenstein are the clear progenitors of his silkscreen technique, but Lowman, via neo-appropriationists Richard Prince and Cady Noland, boldly updates their aesthetic for the smoking car wreck that is the twenty-first century.

    Lowman is concerned with the compulsions that drive our cultural fascination with death and violent crime. A particular obsession since his youth has been the O.J. Simpson murder trial, with the artist even renting Simpson’s getaway vehicle for a 2012 exhibition. He takes communication and its breakdown as the site for art and employs a mediated visual vocabulary from popular culture, including iterations of Marilyn Monroe, smiley faces and the Apple logo. ‘A lot of the images I use are already out there in the public or in the news. I just steal them or photograph them or repaint them, so they've already been talked about, already been consumed. I'm just reopening them to get at their second, third, or fourth meanings. It really comes down to language. I feel like the biggest failure of humans is miscommunication. We can't communicate with each other – we can fight, we can kill, we can do those things well. Language is the most beautiful and destructive thing because it allows you to express yourself, but it totally confuses everything.’ (Nate Lowman in conversation with Leo Fitzpatrick, Interview Magazine, 20 January 2009).

    Lowman’s gunshot offers a multiplicity of significances; its central void is both ominous and Xerox-flat. The vivid orange employed in the present lot makes a departure from the series’ typical monochrome, and defies the viewer to admire it as a thing of beauty. In his 2011 show Trash Landing the holes were displayed like so many fridge magnets alongside oversized pine tree air fresheners, the kitsch outlines of the trees hung in wry equivalence to the bullet wounds’ jagged forms. In this bricolage of modern detritus, the cartoonish quality of the bullet hole trivialises the death and suffering caused by its real-world referent. Reminiscent of the trompe l’oeil decals sold in gas stations that allow the peppering of one’s car with faux Bonnie and Clyde bullet holes, it stands as a powerful synecdoche for the mass-produced aestheticization of violence: it is garish Americana undergirded with grand seriousness.

    There is of course humour in Lowman’s diagnosis of the absurd, and he enacts joyful delinquency in his deconstruction of bumper-sticker patriotism. He shares the dualism of cultural commentary and glamorous irreverence with his forefather Warhol, whose work with repetition and images from mass culture irrevocably altered the field of contemporary art. The impact and relevance of Lowman’s oeuvre is testament to a ferociously keen eye for the pathologies of modern America; his trash aesthetic embodies atrocity and excess with brash aplomb, but finds a terrible beauty in the wreckage.


Orange Maxima

silkscreen on canvas, laid on panel
80 x 85 cm (31 1/2 x 33 1/2 in.)
Signed and dated 'Nate Lowman 2005' on the reverse.

£200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for £218,500

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

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London 29 June 2015 7pm