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  • "I saw a Rothko painting, orange and yellow, 1956, big enough to blanket you physically when you were close to it. You could bathe in the light-color... Yet the paint was so thinly applied—barely there... Such experiences made me realize what painting's unique reality was: neither object nor window. It existed in the space between."
    —Robert Mangold

    Emerging in the 1960s as one of the more prominent artists associated with the Minimalist movement, Robert Mangold executed his most celebrated compositions with delicate simplicity and powerful intentionality of painting. Created in 1976, Four Triangles Within a Square’s carefully-rendered isosceles triangles against an endless expanse of creamy beige epitomizes his masterful use of line and shape. A superb example from the titular series, which is well-represented in institutions globally, its singular sense of precision and tonality betrays Mangold’s extraordinary ability to present the basic act of painting as a phenomenological exercise. “Figurative artists develop subject matter,” Robert Storr once observed. “Abstract artists like Mangold develop ‘object matter.’”i

     

    Mangold’s methodical process involves carefully working through ideas before putting them to canvas, often working in series and experimenting with various permutations of a chosen composition. Though the lines that define the triangles at first appear to be meticulously calculated, almost machine-like, Mangold’s work involves an emotional dimension not unlike that his Color Field forebearers, perhaps his most conspicuous influence. “I saw a Rothko painting, orange and yellow, 1956, big enough to blanket you physically when you were close to it. You could bathe in the light-color,” Mangold recalled. Yet the paint was so thinly applied—barely there... Such experiences made me realize what painting's unique reality was: neither object nor window. It existed in the space between."

     

    Reminiscent of Robert Motherwell’s Open series, Four Triangles Within a Square evokes the Renaissance model of perspectival picture—and like Fra Angelico’s spaces, it invites intellectual contemplation and reflection. “Mangold draws, and after painting, redraws his lines, which thus are embedded in his color,” critic David Carrier elucidated, “as if sinopia, like those preserved under the pigment of a Renaissance fresco, had returned to the surface to haunt these paintings.”ii

     

    Robert Motherwell, Open No. 124, 1969, acrylic and charcoal on canvas, Collection SFMOMA, Anonymous Gift, © Dedalus Foundation, Inc. / Licensed by VAGA at ARS, New York
    Robert Motherwell, Open No. 124, 1969, acrylic and charcoal on canvas, Collection SFMOMA, Anonymous Gift, © Dedalus Foundation, Inc. / Licensed by VAGA at ARS, New York

     

    "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 acentric 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 Schiff

     

    Four Triangles Within a Square was executed eight years after Mangold began rolling acrylic paint on canvas; a shift from spraying oil paint onto Masonite, this technique resulted in the flatness that was such a central maxim of Minimalism. Indeed, Mangold’s approach is often considered to be aligned with Minimalism distilled to its most basic tenets: “He has excluded from his work all such concerns as illusion, image, space, composition, climax, hierarchy of interest, movement, emotional content, painterliness, interest in materials or processes, and any sort of association or reference to anything other than the physical painting itself,” critic Naomi Spector expressed. “To have produced work of intellectual and visual power with such severity of means is impressive, and he is certainly among the most important of the ‘Minimal’ artists.”


    i Robert Storr, “Betwixt and Between,” Robert Mangold, London, 2000, p. 99.
    ii David Carrier, "Visual Dialogue and the Acknowledgment of Particularity" in Robert Mangold, exh. cat., PaceWildenstein, New York, 1995, p. 8

    • Provenance

      Galerie Yvon Lambert, Paris
      Private Collection
      Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Paris, Galerie Yvon Lambert, Robert Mangold, May 6–June 5, 1976
      London, Christie's, About the Line, September 28–November 26, 2017

    • Literature

      Robert Mangold, Paintings 1964–1982, exh. cat., Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1982, no. 333, n.p. (illustrated)

Property from an Esteemed Collection

Ο ◆133

Four Triangles Within a Square

signed, titled and dated "R Mangold 1976 April Four Triangles within a Square" on the reverse
acrylic and colored pencil on canvas
48 1/4 x 48 in. (122.6 x 121.9 cm)
Executed in 1976.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
$250,000 - 350,000 

Sold for $327,600

Contact Specialist

John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session, New York
+1 212 940 1261
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20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale - Morning Session

New York Auction 18 November 2021