Robert Longo - Contemporary Art Day Sale London Thursday, June 28, 2012 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    SAKS, Geneva

  • Exhibited

    Geneva, SAKS, Robert Longo: No Wave, 18 September–7 November 2009

  • Catalogue Essay

    “I think I make art for brave eyes. I don’t want to make art that will pat you on the back and tell you everything is going to be okay. I want to make something that’s much more confronting. You don’t look at it, it looks at you as much as you look at it.”
    (Robert Longo in an interview with Richard Prince, Robert Longo: Men in the Cities, New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1986, p.94)

    Themes of beauty, death, violence and darkness are simultaneously evoked in the photo-realist charcoals of Robert Longo. Choosing iconography from post-war visual culture, in a similar way to Andy Warhol, Longo manipulates and transforms the intimate practice of drawing as a comment on modern society and its visual culture. The technical precision of the works undermines photographic procedure and reflects Longo’s interest in the impact of photography and film; he believes that the world has become photogenic – not merely informed by photography and film but adjusted to them. By drawing these images on such a monumental scale, Longo elevates
    the medium to the status of painting, whilst exploring the shifts in perceptions such an image can evoke in relation to its environment. Longo’s subject matter derives from photographs and the internet. He chooses, as his symbols of popular culture, images such as bombs, sharks, guns, roses and waves that are all linked to moments of climax and intensity. Depicted in this monumental manner, Longo transforms them into the sublime. Feelings of fear and power conflict in these works in a way which reflects the structure of the world we live in today.

    Black Revolver possesses a three-dimensional quality, as if sculptured out of the paper’s surface. To create this effect, Longo initially rubbed a heavy layer of charcoal into the paper by hand, producing a dense, velvety surface. He then applied, with a brush, charcoal powder of difference densities. Finally, with the erasers, Longo carved out the image leaving behind the white, untouched surface of the paper. The chiaroscuro formed by the deep, velvet blackness and the intense glow of the highlights bestows physicality to the image, maintaining a directness and tactility to the work.


Black Revolver

charcoal on paper, mounted
244 x 122 cm (96 1/8 x 48 in)
Signed on the reverse.

£100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for £169,250

Contemporary Art Day Sale

29 June 2012