Robert Reed - New Now New York Tuesday, September 28, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Executed in 1980–1981, Robert Reed’s San Romano, Legal Action is a major painting from the artist’s celebrated San Romano series and perfectly encapsulates the cacophonous, intricately rendered geometric abstraction that led to major acclaim during Reed’s lifetime. Reed left behind a remarkable legacy as both educator and artist; a student of Bauhaus artist Josef Albers, he forged a style of abstraction based on the “real” forms found in everyday life and notably had his first solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1973. A professor of painting and printmaking at the celebrated Yale School of Art for 45 years, Reed notably became the first—and, at the time, only—fully tenured Black faculty member. Reed’s work is represented in the permanent collections of such prestigious institutions as the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.


    The San Romano series, to which the present work belongs, is directly inspired by Paolo Uccello’s epic painting The Battle of San Romano, circa 1438–1440, which Reed first encountered at the National Gallery in London in 1979. Moved by its teeming visual plentitude, Reed attempted to replicate the frenetic effect of Uccello’s painting in his own compositions; the resulting series of large-scale abstract works showcases the same ordered chaos as Uccello’s Cinquecento masterpiece. The present work, San Romano, Legal Action, is a major example from this series and encapsulates Reed’s unmatched ability to tame energy within the picture plane.

    • Description

      Please note that the seller will be donating a portion of the proceeds from this artwork’s sale to benefit Project Backboard. Project Backboard is a 501(c)(3) organization that seeks to strengthen communities, encourage multi-generational play, and inspire people to think more critically and creatively. The organization will use proceeds from the sale to develop a public basketball court in Haiti, and they intend to donate a portion of proceeds from the sale of this lot to earthquake relief efforts there.

    • Provenance

      Private Collection, New Orleans
      New Orleans Auction Galleries, July 28, 2019, lot 732
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      New Canaan, Silvermine Guild Center For The Arts, Robert Reed: The San Romano Series, October 11–November 2, 1980
      Hartford, Trinity College, Widener Gallery, Robert Reed: San Romano Series, April 6–27, 1983

THE CROSSOVER: Property Sold to Benefit Project Backboard


San Romano, Legal Action

signed, titled and dated "ROBERT REED / "SAN ROMANO, LEGAL ACTION" 1980–81 LEGAL ACTION" on the overlap
Aqua-tec on canvas, diptych
each 83 x 71 in. (210.8 x 180.3 cm)
overall 83 x 142 in. (210.8 x 360.7 cm)

Executed in 1980–1981.

Full Cataloguing

$20,000 - 25,000 

Sold for $27,720

Contact Specialist

Patrizia Koenig

Head of New Now Sale

212 940 1279

New Now

New York Auction 28 September 2021