Sheila Pinkel - Photographs New York Monday, July 13, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Directly from the artist

  • Catalogue Essay

    “I didn’t understand light as a physicist does, but I did have a feeling that light is a substance that I could use like paint.”

    Sheila Pinkel’s fascination with light and form inspired a wide and varied photographic practice that began in the mid-1970s while a student in the graduate art program at UCLA. Studying under Robert Heinecken, Pinkel began to experiment with cameraless photography and to apply her understanding of three-dimensional sculpture, which she had studied as an undergraduate, to two-dimensional forms. Her exploration into the dynamic nature of light and the infinite aesthetic possibilities of its refraction eventually led to her phenomenological Lightworks, as seen in lot 181. These unique works began with a sheet of photographic paper which Pinkel folded and shaped and then exposed to light. Once unfolded and developed, the paper was left with a rendering of light and shadow, sometimes geometric, sometimes organic.

    Continuing her investigations into alternative image making processes, Pinkel began in 1978 working with Xeroradiography, a medical technology more commonly known as mammography that would allow her to make an image of an object’s interior. After gaining access to machines at the Xerox Medical Research Facility in Pasadena, Pinkel began making prints by placing objects such as peas, as seen in lot 180, onto a charged selenium plate and exposing it to X-rays. That plate was then placed in a special Xerox machine which produced either a positive or negative print based on the machine’s setting. Working at the intersection of art and science and driven by an innate curiosity to investigate the unknown, Pinkel unlocked the creative potential of this highly technical process. Her photographs are held in an array of institutional collections including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art which holds 30 of her works.


Peas (positive/negative)

Two Xeroradiographs.
Each 9 x 13 1/4 in. (22.9 x 33.7 cm)
Overall 18 x 13 1/4 in. (45.7 x 33.7 cm)

Signed in pencil on the mount.

$5,000 - 7,000 

Sold for $5,625

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Deputy Chairwoman, Americas

+212 940 1245


New York Auction 13 July 2020