Paul Noble - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Friday, October 12, 2007 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Maureen Paley, London

  • Exhibited

    New York, Gorney Bravin + Lee, Nobson New Town, Febrauary 12 - March 11, 2000
    Sydney, 13th Sydney Biennale, The World my Be...(Fantastic), May 15 - July 28, 2002; Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Paul Noble: No accidents, only mistakes, April 2 - June 19, 2005

  • Literature

    A. Searle, 'Sin Cities', in The Guardian, London, September 14, 2004; C. Darwent, 'The Rebrith of Drawing', in The Independant on Sunday, London, September 26, 2004; R. Cork, 'An Irrepressible Obsession', in New Statesman, London, September 27, 2004

  • Catalogue Essay

    British artist Paul Noble is a master draughtsman, whose wall-sized drawings offer aerial perspectives over a fantastical cityscape that echoes the visionary ethos of projects such as the Garden City Movement. In 1995 Paul Noble embarked on the creation of Nobson Newtown, a pencil drawn fictional city depicted with a miniaturist’s painstaking attention to fanatical detail. Twenty-seven monumental pencil drawings are brought together to form this fictitious industrial town built on the edge of a forest, which in its masterful composition and pictorial intensity recalls the work of Piranesi. However, though the artists share their renditions in realistic detail, Noble’s creations are much more than a feat in naturalistic representation. Modeled on a 1970s Letraset font called "Block Up", each building is bourne of three dimensional letters as in a medieval manuscript; language thus engenders civilization, and ascribes a function to each building. Representing a utopian vision gone awry, Nobson Newtown is a meditation on city planning, modernism, and life at the turn of the twenty-first century. Depicted from unique angles, the works are compounded by geometric clouds, providing depth and adding an ominous air to the project.

    The present lot is easily recognized as the cemetery of this imaginary city, filled with ominous cloaked figures, shattered skeletons and cobwebs. Similarly a large bat overlooks the graveyard and its crumbling buildings: Nobson Newtown does not avoid the self-destruction of our time. The emphasis on multiple meanings, mischief-making and bravura accomplishment drops away. Beneath its prodigious energy and inventiveness, Noble's vision is seasoned with an elegiac awareness of transience, futility and the grave.

    “In his parody of the ideal city, Noble is drawing on centuries of tradition. One thinks of Ettore Sottsass’ 1972 drawing series, The Planet as Festival, in which sexually suggestive buildings serve a society dedicated to physical pleasure. More explicitly, the mall appears to be derived from the 18th-century architect Claude-Nicholas Ledoux’s Temple of Memory, part of his plan for an ideal city in which buildings – such as a copulatorium – were overtly figurative to symbolise their function. This “architecture parlante” (talking architecture) is a notion that Noble has made literal with his structural alphabet. Noble’s use of language as the actual fabric of the city is partly to slow the viewer down. The process of trying to decipher the words suggests that communication is inherently frustrating. In Nobson Central, the old town centre is a derelict zone of crumbling words (taken from Eliot’s The Wasteland) reminiscent of a carpet-bombed city, suggesting that communication has broken down and that the citizens…have regressed to a primitive state...'One thing is certain and the rest is lies / the flower that once has blown forever dies.'” Utopias are as vulnerable to ruin as the city fabric.”
    (J. McGuirk, "Paul Noble", Icon Magazine, November, 2004, p. 147)



Graphite on paper.
59 x 78 3/4 in. (150 x 200cm).

£30,000 - 40,000 

Sold for £60,000

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Evening Sale
13 October 2007, 4pm