Peter Doig - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale - Afternoon Session New York Wednesday, November 15, 2017 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Gifted by the artist to the present owner in 1991

  • Catalogue Essay

    Depicting a lone musician in a dream-like woodland, Turner Prize winner Peter Doig’s City Singer in a Wood from 1991 is a sublime early work painted during his ascension to critical acclaim. Intimate in scale and composition, the present work transports viewers to an otherworldly, faraway place - Doig’s fusion of imagination with the nostalgic glow of memory creates an eerie scene that deftly oscillates between figuration and abstraction. A master of contemporary figurative painting, Doig employs his inventive painterly technique in the dense layering of trees and lush forest ground in this atmospheric and characteristic setting.

    The year 1991, when the present work was painted, was particularly formative in Doig’s career: he was selected for the Barclays Young Artist Award at the Serpentine Galleries and won the prestigious Whitechapel Artist Prize. Opening when Doig was only 32 years old, the Whitechapel show would serve as the catalyst for his career. With the exhilarating opportunity to exhibit in the upstairs gallery of the influential institution at the same time as Cindy Sherman's show on the main level, Doig painted a series of large scale paintings for his exhibition. The artist recalled, “The year after I left Chelsea [School of Art] I was awarded The Whitechapel Artist Prize, so I got a show of my new work at the Whitechapel Gallery, upstairs. Cindy Sherman's show was on downstairs. I remember walking my paintings, which were still wet and in cheap decorator's plastic, between her incredible crates” (The Artist, quoted in Parinaz Mogadassi, “Interview with Peter Doig”, Purple, April 2011).

    Having studied together at the Wimbledon School of Art in 1979–80, Doig titled City Singer in a Wood after the present owner, a singer-songwriter based in London, and gifted it to her for her 30th birthday. Doig reflected: “I spend a lot of time alone in the studio and become obsessed by certain musicians… Most people don’t have ten hours a day to listen to music over and over again... inadvertently it becomes a kind of backdrop to the work” (The Artist, quoted in Catherine Grenier, Adrian Searle and Kitty Scott, Peter Doig, London, 2007, p. 21). Despite the influence of music on Doig’s work, it is not often that it features as a figurative element such as in this entrancing work.

  • Artist Biography

    Peter Doig

    Scottish • 1959

    Peter Doig is widely considered one of the most renowned contemporary figurative painters. Born in Scotland and raised in Trinidad and Canada, Doig achieved his breakthrough in 1991 upon being awarded the prestigious Whitechapel Artist Prize and receiving a solo exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London.

    Doig draws on personal memories and source imagery in his pursuit of exploring the slippage between reality, imagination and memory through painting. The material properties of paint and expressive possibilities of color thereby serve to approximate the foggy, inarticulate sensation of remembering. His practice maintains a thin and balanced line between landscape and figure, superimposing photographic imagery and memories, both real and imagined.

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City Singer in a Wood

signed, titled and dated "Peter Doig 1991 "City Singer in a Wood"" on the reverse
oil on board
16 1/2 x 7 7/8 in. (42 x 20 cm.)
Painted in 1991.

$150,000 - 250,000 

Contact Specialist
Rebekah Bowling
Head of Day Sale, Afternoon Session
New York
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20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale - Afternoon Session

New York Auction 15 November 2017