R.H. Quaytman - Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, November 13, 2014 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Migeul Abreu Gallery, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    "I began to think of paintings as objects that you passed by—as things that you saw not just head-on and isolated, but from the side, with your peripheral vision, and in the context of other paintings."
    R.H. Quaytman, 2010

    Each “chapter” of R.H. Quaytman’s artistic creations is made up of small wood panels, the pages of her lifelong novel, if you will. Exploring a number of varying processes and techniques, Quaytman contends with the intricate story of painting. She strings along her chapters, each evolving from the one that preceded it, creating her own artistic archive. Quaytman explains that “The idea of organizing my paintings and exhibitions as if they were chapters in an ongoing series began in 2001, with eighty paintings called ‘The Sun’…. I didn’t immediately know that I was going to say—‘Okay, this is Chapter 1’ and I will continue with this method. The idea of thinking of exhibitions as chapters was slow in coming…I decided to leave my gallery and claim all the problems of being my own art historian, my own collector, and my own kind of painter.” (R.H. QUAYTMAN Interview by Paulina Pobocha, Museo Magazine, 2010)

    After her father, artist Harvey Quaytman died, Rebecca Howe Quaytman sought to confront the painful examination of an artist’s legacy. The re-examination of her father’s artistic output “contributed to a growing painful awareness of the fate of most art objects….it made me need to take charge of my own output and insert the idea of its ending. Rather than seeing the accumulation of unsold work in a studio as a failure in entering the market or history or whatever, I would make it an element of the project: the collection of my own work.” (R. H. QUAYTMAN Interview by Paulina Pobocha, Museo Magazine, 2010) Her “chapters” speak at once with the viewer and with each other. As a whole, these chapters form an ongoing collection, and while the individual chapters are separated, Quaytman says she “retains ownership of the whole.” (R. H. QUAYTMAN Interview by Paulina Pobocha, Museo Magazine, 2010)

    The wooden panels that compose the series have been treated with silk-screened images and revolve around the concept of illumination: lamps and light projected patters serve to dislocate the viewer. “With these contexts in mind, the subject for this chapter turns back to painting itself and, specifically, its relationship to the blind spot. Like actual vision, Quaytman’s paintings have a blind spot, whether it be from a light source in the picture, an optical illusion, a trompe l’œil effect, the absence of color in a black and white photograph, or the picture in plan.” (R.H. Quaytman, Chapter 12: iamb, Miguel Abreu Press Release, 2009) The surface of each piece yields a downy glow of white light generating and dissipating within the same pictorial plane, the light’s whole existence beginning and ending within the same wooden panel. Quaytman has always preferred wood panels, as she explains, “I never liked a surface with bounce. I also wanted the picture plane to have a very precise edge.” (R. H. QUAYTMAN Interview by Paulina Pobocha, Museo Magazine, 2010)

    The present lot, Chapter 12: Iamb (An American Place), 2008, depicts a nebulous, dark interior. The commonplace room is dissected by two stark slices of white light. The source of the light is unknown but generates an awareness of the passing of time. Her preference for chiaroscuro effect is dramatic yet subtle; the so called “blind spot” in question is the entire glittering surface itself. The light seems to flicker on and off, the sun light is blocked and unblocked by clouds, generating a shifting, subtle glow that twists back and forth in the interior corner. “Quaytman’s motif - the painting lit by the lamp - recalls Georges de la Tour, who attained, with candlelight, and especially the effects of a hidden or obscured candle, an art of occasionally elfin abstract delicacy, as well as a reverential quality that is never histrionic.” (D. Lewis, “R.H. Quaytman MIGUEL ABREU GALLERY,” Frieze Magazine, January 20, 2009)


Chapter 12: Iamb (An American Place)

oil, silkscreen, gesso on wood
40 x 24 3/4 in. (101.6 x 62.9 cm)
Signed, titled and dated "R.H. Quaytman, Chapter 12, Iamb, 2008" on the reverse.

$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $245,000

Contact Specialist
Amanda Stoffel
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1261

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 13 November 2014 7pm