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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, London

  • Catalogue Essay


    “I make paintings of certain images because I want people to remember them.”- Nate Lowman

    “As artists, we feel this freedom to re-interpret things whenever we want from art history.” - Nate Lowman

    A leading figure in the young contemporary art scene, Nate Lowman’s oeuvre comprises deep explorations and commentaries of American culture that stem directly from the artist’s own curiosity in mass media, art history and popular culture. Along with Dan Colen, Ryan McGinley and the late Dash Snow, Lowman and his contemporaries became renowned for bringing downtown nonconformity to the international art scene, an aspect of his practice that to this day has remained intact.

    Marilyn Will Be Dead Soon is part of a series of remarkable paintings Lowman exhibited at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise and Maccarone in 2011, offering his personal reinterpretation of Willem De Kooning’s Marilyn Monroe from 1954. The inspiration behind these paintings was the violence that is often associated with America’s fixation around the beautiful female blonde, an image epitomised by Marilyn Monroe. This leading theme presented in a number of Lowman’s works originates from his childhood in California, where he witnessed the obsession around O.J. Simpson’s murder case, one that eventually became the most publicized criminal trials in American history. Embedded into the consciousness of a generation, the artist draws reference to this violent event and turbulent trial, along with De Kooning’s macho and aggressive brushstrokes, combining histories to cultivate in his own interpretation of the female subject.

    Lowman declares he doesn’t have any specific connoisseurship or particular interest in the people he portrays or includes within his works, what intrigues him is the popular fascination with them. The present lot is a quintessential rendition to this idea, as Marilyn Monroe has become the ultimate iconic celebrity figure of the last century, with collectors attempting to acquire any object linked to the star. Everything from Monroe’s chest X-rays, signed cheques, bank statements to the couch from her psychiatrist’s office has been sold at auction, testaments to a cultural obsession with the superstar– or rather an obsession with the idea of her.

    Lowman’s fascination with Marilyn’s image could also be seen as a way to express his loss of a dear friend Dash Snow, who passed away from a drug overdose at the age of 27: “I think about Dash everyday. I go through periods of anger and periods of confusion. But dead people don’t really die. they live on within you.” (the artist quoted in J. Bernstein, “Why Isn’t This Man Smiling”, the New York times, 26 December 2012, online). The tragic figure of Marilyn has acted as a leading subject in exploring the theme of the transience of life for many artists, most notably Warhol, whose oeuvre unquestionably acted as a profound influence on Lowman’s work.


    Overlapping one another and positioned upside down, the two Marilyn’s offered in the present lot are somewhat overshadowed by text, a familiar characteristic within Lowman’s work. “I’ll be dead soon” is a combination of words presented in other works by the artist, emphasizing the subject’s transience and ephemerality. Displaying these words on one of the most recognizable figures of the last century is an evocative gesture, one that consequentially leads the viewer to contemplate on the value given to celebrities and the cult status that surrounds them. Lowman confronts us with an unseen side of Marilyn that is not concerned with her immortal beauty and glamour− words she is now synonymous with− but a personal side that call into question her actually identity, relevance and longevity.

8

Marilyn Will Be Dead Soon

2011
alkyd on canvas
152.4 x 121.9 cm. (60 x 48 in.)
Signed and dated '2011 Nate Lowman' on the overlap.

Estimate
£100,000 - 150,000 

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

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London 16 October 2013