Sadamasa Motonaga - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale - Morning Session New York Wednesday, November 15, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection
    Tokyo, SBI Art Auction Co., Ltd., October 24, 2015, lot 167
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    “I have not graduated from Gutai’s way of thinking. I still want to do something new, that which has not existed before.”
    Sadamasa Motonaga

    In 1955, Sadamasa Motonaga joined the Gutai Art Association, an avant-garde collective committed to pursuing new possibilities in art that was founded and guided by Jiro Yoshihara. Motonaga debuted as a member in the groundbreaking show Experimental Outdoor Modern Art Exhibition to Challenge the Midsummer Burning Sun that same year when he poured ink-stained water into vinyl sheets to create vibrant teardrop-shaped forms that were hung from trees, causing the branches to sag. With this iconic outdoor project, Motonaga developed a motif that he would continue to explore throughout his career, both in the form of installation and in his use of colorful, organic shapes in painting.

    Commanding in its size, meticulous execution and bold, saturated hues, Green Form White Light is a striking example of Motonaga’s seminal late work. In 1966 the artist moved to New York where he discovered Liquitex and the airbrush, higher quality materials and tools that he had not been using previously. These new mediums resulted in a stylistic shift away from his poured paint works to a more minimalist, hard-edge aesthetic with an increased focus on form that he continued to develop in Japan after his New York residency. The fluid, biomorphic shape of the present work is one that must have particularly intrigued Motonaga as he returned to it a number of times in varying colors and sizes, including in his work Piron Piron from 1975, which was included in the recent major exhibition of Motonaga and fellow Gutai artist Kazuo Shiraga at the Dallas Museum of Art in 2015, Between Action and the Unknown: The Art of Kazuo Shiraga and Sadamasa Motonaga. The impeccably executed color gradation and sharp contrast between the luminous green, orange and white hues against the deep black background bestow Green Form White Light with a distinctly contemporary aesthetic that is exemplary of Motonaga’s mature oeuvre and reflects his career-long dedication to the Gutai principles of creating uninhibited, fresh works of art.


Green Form White Light

signed and dated "S. Motonaga '90" lower right; further signed and titled "Sadamasa Motonaga Green Form White Light [in Japanese]" on the stretcher
oil and acrylic on canvas
76 x 51 1/2 in. (193 x 130.8 cm.)
Painted in 1990.

$150,000 - 200,000 

Sold for $225,000

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

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale - Morning Session

New York Auction 15 November 2017