Robert Longo - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale New York Wednesday, May 17, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Metro Pictures, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Across mediums of photography, painting and drawing, the artists belonging to the “Pictures Generation”, a term coined after the celebrated 1977 show entitled “Pictures” at Artists Space, brought the media-saturated culture which surrounded them into their studio practices. Deriving their inspiration from the images which defined their own American experiences, artists like Cindy Sherman, Robert Longo and Jack Goldstein appropriated advertisements, film stills and journalistic photographs as their own, and presented them in an entirely new context. Departing from the Minimalist conceptions of their immediate predecessors, these pioneers took a simple idea and turned it into something masterful, focusing not on the formal qualities of painting and drawing, but rather the emotive qualities of a recognizable image.

    The following selection of works presents iconic examples of these artists’ individual practices. Despite their basis in 1970s and 1980s Hollywood film and advertisements, their appropriation of found imagery feels all the more relevant in a millennial age dominated by technology. As exemplified by the diversity found across Cindy Sherman’s self-portraits, Robert Longo’s photorealist charcoal drawings and Louise Lawler's museum-inspired images, what these artists have in common is not necessarily their subject matter but rather their collective belief in art’s power to explore the concept modern identity in an uncertain age. While loosely affiliated, these artists, as Gary Indiana poignantly described in a recent article, “above all else…addressed power, especially patriarchal power, at its quotidian level of social engineering, as well as in its grip on art history” (Gary Indiana, “These ‘80s Artists Are More Important Than Ever”, The New York Times Style Magazine, February 13, 2017, online). Indeed, the Pictures Generations movement is one of the first in art history to be largely dominated by female artists such as Sherman, Louise Lawler and Laurie Simmons, some of whom are only recently gaining the recognition they deserve. Together, the following lots illustrate the Pictures Generation’s unique place in the trajectory of art history, a place that is at once timely and timeless.


Study of Tiger Head 18

titled "STUDY TIGER HEAD 18" lower left; further signed and dated "Robert Longo 2013" lower right
ink and charcoal on vellum
image 20 5/8 x 16 in. (52.4 x 40.6 cm.)
sheet 24 x 17 in. (61 x 43.2 cm.)

Executed in 2013.

$150,000 - 200,000 

Sold for $162,500

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale
New York
+1 212 940 1261

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

New York Auction 17 May 2017