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

    Galerie Six Friedrich, Munich
    Hans-Jürgen Müller, Stuttgart
    Christie's, New York, Contemporary Art Day Sale, November 9, 2005, lot 464
    Galerie Sho, Tokyo
    Sotheby's, New York, Contemporary Art Day Auction, May 13, 2009, lot 165
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Literature

    L. Maculan, ed., Sturtevant: Catalogue Raisonné 1964-2004, Ostfildern-Ruit: 2004, no. 225, p. 103

  • Catalogue Essay

    "If you use a source-work as a catalyst, you throw out representation. And once you do that, you can start talking about the understructure. It seemed too simple at first. But it’s always the simple things that work." Elaine Sturtevant, 2005

    Conventional notions of originality and authorship are radically cast aside in the paintings of Elaine Sturtevant, whose work spearheaded the development of appropriation art. The present lot, Stella Tomlinson Court Park - First Version, is a direct copy of Frank Stella’s 1967 painting of the same name. With unabashed precision, Sturtevant replicates Stella’s minimalist piece in order to question historical notions of creativity and the artistic process. Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Claus Oldenburg, and Jasper Johns were all taken as inspiration for the appropriation works that Sturtevant began in 1965. A contemporary of these artists, she often adapted pieces soon after they were conceived. Many of Sturtevant’s selections have accrued iconic status, attesting to her keen aesthetic eye and prodigious foresight in identifying major shifts in post-war American art.

    The source image for the current lot, titled Tomlinson Court Park, belongs to Frank Stella’s striking Black Paintings series. Working in the late 1950s and 1960s, Stella turned away from abstract expressionism to create reductive, non-representational paintings. In his Black Paintings, color and composition are minimized to an extreme, leaving white lines to create illusionistic, geometric effects on black canvas. The series was ultimately championed as one of the earliest forms of Minimalist Art, and in 1990 Sturtevant reproduced many of the Black Paintings for an exhibition at Rhona Hoffman Gallery in Chicago.

    In Stella Tomlinson Court Park (First Version) (Study) Sturtevant makes minor departures from Stella’s original. The weight of her white lines and the size of the canvas are not exactly the same. These slight alterations allow Sturtevant to embody Stella’s style, while also refreshing it with new energy. Her stated purpose was to “expand and develop...current notions of aesthetics, probe originality, and investigate the relation of origins to originality and open space for new thinking” (Sturtevant, “Original,” Symposium Salzberger Kunstverein (Hrsg.). Ostfildern: Hajte Cantz, 1995, S. 133.). Being highly conceptual and using little created content, the true subject of Sturtevant’s work is the reflection, thinking, and analysis that occur when a spectator is confronted with a replication. Seen within the larger context of Sturtevant’s Warhol Flowers, Johns Flags, and Duchamp readymades, Stella Tomlinson Court Park (First Version) (Study) is part of a larger, conceptual study of aesthetic development. Curator Peter Eleey claims, “In some ways, style is her medium…She was the first postmodern artist…” (Margalit Fox, The New York Times, May 16, 2014). With her replications, Sturtevant builds a layered, composite visual narrative to underscore the impossibility of wholly original expression in a global culture that thrives on recycling ideas and styles.

  • Artist Biography


    Elaine Sturtevant, known professionally as Sturtevant, was an American artist whose practice considered issues of authorship, authenticity, and the nature of reproduction. Her carefully inexact recreations, referred to as “repetitions,” of the work of her contemporaries attracted almost immediate attention as Sturtevant embarked on this practice in 1964, copying the work of fellow artists and friends like Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, and Roy Lichtenstein. Sturtevant mastered several artforms including painting, sculpture, photography, and film in order to faithfully repeat the work of her contemporaries, continually updating her process in order to keep pace with the changing tides of the avant-garde. Many of the artists Sturtevant repeated, often before they became famous, would later be considered the iconic artists of their respective movements and generations. Her late work is concerned with reproduction and repetition in the digital world.  

    Sturtevant’s work has attracted simultaneous acclaim and criticism for its close copying of the work of other artists. Her work has been praised as innovative and insightful, and the artist has been the subject of major retrospectives at institutions such as the Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, the Serpentine Galleries, London, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris. Sturtevant received the Golden Lion at the 2011 Venice Biennale for lifetime achievement. She died in 2014 in Paris, where she had been living and working since the 1990s. 

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Stella Tomlinson Court Park (First Version) (Study)

enamel on canvas
44 x 56 1/4 in. (111.8 x 142.9 cm)
Signed, titled and dated "Sturtevant '90 'Stella Tomlinson Court Park' (First Version) (Study)" along the overlap.

$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $557,000

Contact Specialist
Amanda Stoffel
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1261

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 13 November 2014 7pm