Robert Mangold - Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, November 13, 2014 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Annemarie Verna Galerie, Zurich
    Private Collection, Germany

  • Exhibited

    Zurich, Galerie Annemarie Verna, Robert Mangold, 1996
    Wiesbaden, Museum Wiesbaden, Robert Mangold: Paintings and Drawings 1984–1997, October 18, 1998−February 21, 1999, then traveled to St. Gallen, Kunstmuseum (June 16−August 22, 1999)

  • Literature

    Robert Mangold: Paintings and Drawings 1984–1997, exh. cat., Museum Wiesbaden, Wiesbaden, 1999, p. 108 cr. 974 (illustrated)
    R. Schiff, Robert Mangold, London, Phaidon Press, 2000, pp. 148 - 149 (illustrated), p. 318 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    “In the zone paintings for instance, there would be a certain kind of elliptical structure that would start and then it would be interrupted and then it would be picked up on the other side of the interruption.” Robert Mangold, 2009

    From his seminal exhibition at the Guggenheim museum in 1971 to his more recent showings at the Venice Biennale and elsewhere, Robert Mangold captivates us with his works on canvas. His dichromatic diptychs of pencil and paint, amid mere simplicity, manage to leap into a realm all their own, creating marvelous movement in his carefully wrought restraint. After thirty years of creating, Mangold brought forth Red/Gray Zone Painting I, 1996, a perfect encapsulation of his overarching project that also vibrates with a singular energy, fusing his exploration of shape, line, and color into a single work of profound artistry.

    Mangold’s diptych is composed of two separate yet incongruent canvases, shaped by his hand to demonstrate their dissimilarity. On the right, Mangold’s rectangular canvas is a fabulous example of the dichotomy of uniformity: monochromatic in gray yet textured in the minutiae of Mangold’s brushwork. Mangold’s evolution as a technician occurred mostly in the 1960s, where he progressed from spray paint, to rolling, to brushwork—here we find his hand at work in an inimitable fashion.

    The left side of Mangold’s diptych could not be more different. Following the style of his circular canvases that fist appeared in his early career, Mangold places a truncated quarter circle to contrast with his rigid right side. The soft curve of the upper portion of this burning red section is not only an antithesis to the right side in shape, but also in its figural content: Mangold has scrawled an almost geometrically exact line of pencil throughout his curved canvas, allowing the looping journey to interact with the corners and curve of his canvas, fluid in its relationship to the solid shape that contains it. This flatness of color yet dichromatic schema is the essence of Mangold’s work, both abstract and figural:

    "A typical work by Mangold reads as flat, yet is also a field that contains figuration; simple enough to be viewed as a totality, its shapes are nevertheless eccentric and strangely asymmetrical. Each work defeats expectations of regularity based on the existing conventions of abstract… each of his paintings acquired a compelling uniqueness. It is art to which you never become habituated.”(Richard Shiff, A Compelling Uniqueness, Robert Mangold: Paintings, 1990-2002, exh. cat., Aspen Art Museum, 2003, p. 25).

    In Red/Gray Zone Painting I, 1996, we find Mangold’s variety of influences making their mark upon his artistic output. In a conversation with John Yau in 2009, he attests to his influences composing a major hand in his early work: “After some early paintings in the 60s, I was really committed to the idea of working on the surface. I never painted around the edges of the painting. I didn’t want the sense of it being anymore of an object than it had to be. I like the panels to be as thin as possible. Newman and Rothko were kind of my goal posts in terms of my playing field. Rothko’s surface and Newman’s architecture inspired me in certain ways.”(J. Yau, “In Conversation: Robert Mangold with John Yau”, The Brooklyn Rail, March 6, 2009)

    Yet we also find both Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko at work in the present lot as well. While Rothko’s vertical arrangements of color field painting figure in to Mangold’s organization of red and gray, Newman’s Be I (Second Version), 1970 cues us in to the similarity in vertical axes between the two pieces—while Newman’s employs a single canvas and explores the division between the two halves, Mangold’s is a painting that explores contrast as much as comparison. We find this exploration of contrast a constant in his work, as Curved Plane/Figure VII (Study), 1995 is a precursor to the present lot and belongs in the permanent collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art. The present lot almost seems like an introduction to the body of work from this decade as the orange and soft grays both resist and interact with one another, married by the soft graphite lines that curve across their surfaces.

    Two interlocking ovals occupy the left panel of the work. The graphite swirls atop the burnt orange backdrop in a lyrical dance. The whimsical and jazzing lines inundate the panel like those of Brice Marden. Here the swirling charcoal lines are reminiscent of Marden’s Cold Mountain Series, Zen Study 5, 1991, in which the lines tangle amongst themselves creating a beautiful web of lyricism.

    But while Mangold has always been transparent about his influences, his own hand ultimately overcomes the signature of others, begetting a painting that is a keen demonstration of both careful study and deep innovation. In Red/Grey Zone Painting I, 1996, this fusion assumes the form of a provocative work: one that poses as many questions as answers:

    “In my work there is a continuing effort to collide with something. For me creativity is like this. If you’re a scientist and you’re trying to solve whatever it is, you have a specific problem and there’s a way of working with it. I think creatively, maybe there are people who work like that, but to me it always seems like you’re questioning something. There isn’t a destination. You set up a perimeter and you push against it.”(“In Conversation: Robert Mangold with John Yau”, The Brooklyn Rail, March 6, 2009)


Red/Gray Zone Painting I

acrylic, colored pencil on canvas, in 2 parts
90 x 132 in. (228.6 x 335.3 cm)
Each signed, titled and dated "R. Mangold Red/Gray Zone Painting I 1996" and annotated "Right/Left" panel on the reverse.

$500,000 - 700,000 

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Amanda Stoffel
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New York
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Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 13 November 2014 7pm