Tauba Auerbach - Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Thursday, May 15, 2014 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Paula Cooper Gallery, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2011

  • Literature

    E. Dauplay, E. Abbott Abott, I. Calvino, Tauba Auerbach: Folds, Berlin/Bergen: Sternberg Press/Bergen Kunsthall, 2011, p. 86 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    “The entire point of making art, to me, is newness and to expand your mind, even in some tiny way.”


    Transcending a “…liminal state between two or three dimensions,” Tauba Auerbach’s impressive Fold paintings embody a masterful synthesis of painterly industrial technique and careful consideration of the mathematical and physical principles governing nature. (L. Yablonsky, “Women’s Work,” T Magazine, 22 February 2010) Concerned with the representational connotations of her practice – both calculated and spontaneous – Auerbach’s work explores the visual paradox emerging from the tension between concealed regularity and apparent disorder, illuminating the innumerable patterns produced in spontaneity. Part trompe l’oeil, part geometry, and part classical realism, Tauba Auerbach’s incomparable Folds simultaneously confound and entice, challenging yet embracing the gestural and formulaic methodologies of her artistic predecessors, epitomizing contemporary realism.

    Trained as a sign maker and calligrapher, Auerbach first mastered the formal and conceptual elements of style during her apprenticeship at a sign shop in San Francisco. Intertwining design and her personal inclination towards mathematical patterns, Auerbach established a visually dynamic vocabulary that initiated and continues to inform her artistic practice. Auerbach’s interest in typography and the logic and reason found in regular and irregular patterns inspires her to reinterpret the mathematical formulas that serve as the foundation for her ostensibly abstract work. Employing grid-like patterns and alphabetical typography in mathematical yet symbolic and aesthetic form, Auerbach’s earliest canvases and works on paper, such as those exhibited in her first solo exhibition, Yes and Not Yes in 2006, appropriate everyday imagery in compelling and optically intriguing compositions. Writing of the artist’s exploration of these recurring geometric themes, Brian Sholis notes, “Auerbach quickly discovered patterns: coronas of bright light; concentrations of shadow; striations of color...” (“Random Rules,” Chaos: Tauba Auerbach, exhibition catalogue, Deitch Projects, New York, September 3-October 17, 2009, p. 58) Extending these numerical and geometric motifs into abstraction, Auerbach’s foray into the photographic medium and eventual rejection of such obvious symbology is evident in the development of her ambiguous yet succinct abstract Folds.

    As a precursor to the Fold paintings, the apparent random disorder evident in Auerbach’s Static pictures suggests the artist’s evolving concern with the visual experience and the act of seeing. She explains, “That particular tension is a common thread throughout…the idea of merging two things... states of being, order and randomness, randomness and chaos, two-dimensionality and three-dimensionality.” (Tauba Auerbach in S. Pulimood, “Filling in the Dots,” Art in America, October 14, 2009) Auerbach’s tenacious attention to the underlying processes that inform the viewer’s visual experience almost deceive the eye; her Static photographs belie a random philosophy not unlike her abstract Folds. The repetitive grids, dots and lines of differing lengths and widths converse with Auerbach’s crumpled and crushed canvases to produce a visual illusion that both confirms and denies the possibility of true abstraction. Revealing the challenge she faces in transforming this theory into practice, Auerbach notes “…every time I try to do something perfect and ordered I always make a mistake, and that breaks the rigidity of the order, and [I] think that’s the best part. All these experiments [force] me [to] reevaluate what is ‘perfect’ and I think that’s a good thing, and that is what I hope my art would ask people to do.” (Tauba Auerbach, in A. Rose, “Tauba Auerbach”, ANP Quarterly, August 2008, p.25)

    Since Auerbach’s Fold paintings premiered in 2009, the optical complexity created by the wondrous, delicate folds found in this series has transfixed an ever-expanding audience. Folding and unfolding the canvas, occasionally employing an iron to create more permanent, differentiated creases, Auerbach creates her wrinkled surfaces, then utilizing an industrial paint sprayer to meticulously trace the impressions made in the canvas. Describing her process, the artist notes, “Because I spray the creased canvas directionally, the pigment acts like a raking light and freezes a likeness of the contoured materials onto itself. It develops like a photo as I paint. The record of that topological moment is carried forward after the material is stretched flat. Each point on the surface contains a record of itself in that previous state.” (Tauba Auerbach, in C. Bedford, “Dear Painter...,” Frieze, March 2012) Diffusing acrylic paint at varying angles across the canvas, Auerbach highlights the very subtle gradations, employing an iridescent palette to engage and entertain the eye in a visually playful trompe l’oeil dialogue.

    The elegant folded lines of Untitled (Fold), 2010 ripple across the surface with a rhythmic and supple fluidity. Like a prism, the subtle yet sophisticated cerulean and cobalt blues mingle with highlights of lavender pigment reflected and enhanced in the interplay of light and shadow. Captivated by color, the optical illusion of Auerbach’s folds challenges the eye’s visual reality; tactile yet otherworldly in its shimmering aura, Auerbach succeeds in transcending the abstract idiom in subtle, yet calculated chaos. As Chris Jennings notes of Auerbach’s careful practice, “Rather than acting as a desolate precursor to form and beauty, chaos has breached the arid canvas and introduced an almost organic feeling of motion and dynamism.” (“Strange and Quiet Noise,” Chaos: Tauba Auerbach, exhibition catalogue, Deitch Projects, New York, September 3-October 17, 2009, p. 56) Shimmering across the canvas, prismatic sage and olive tones glistening beneath a celestial folded surface combine in a subtle polychromed symphony - a colorfully harmonious composition enlivened by a dynamic dialogue between linearity and luminosity. Further invoking the monochrome palette and gestural, vigorous painting of Yves Klein, Auerbach’s employment of ethereal blues and gentle violet by industrial means elevates the mechanical practice to one beyond the artist’s hand – indeed, beyond the formulaic patterns underpinning her illusory abstractions.

    Beneath the undulating, weaving, and folding lines that characterize Auerbach’s Folds lies a visceral combination of the mathematical, mechanical and human elements. The uniquely profound meeting of artistic intention and chance culminates in the masterfully crafted and gracefully handsome canvas Untitled (Fold), 2010. Speaking of her desire to engage in her work the natural order with the chaotic human touch, Auerbach elaborates, “…something like a pattern or formula can be totally personal and emotional…..I think that things as basic as pattern and color and waveforms hit on a very visceral deep level. And this is especially true if something harmonious or unexpected happens within that, because you have to reevaluate intuitions and assumptions about the most basic things. Any time I am forced to change my thinking, that is a personal experience. I look for that in everything. I want to have my mind changed. (Tauba Auerbach, in A. Rose, “Tauba Auerbach”, ANP Quarterly, August 2008, p.23). Though Auerbach’s Folds derive from a formal concern with pattern and process, it is the extemporaneous repetition of an unintended beauty from which the Folds realize their most enduring meaning.


Untitled (Fold)

acrylic on canvas
60 x 45 in. (152.4 x 114.3 cm.)
Signed and dated "Tauba Auerbach 2011" along the overlap.

$800,000 - 1,200,000 

Sold for $1,805,000

Contact Specialist
Zach Miner
Head of Sale
+1 212 940 1256

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 15 May 2014 7PM