Tauba Auerbach - Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Wednesday, May 13, 2015 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Provenance


  • Exhibited


  • Literature

    B. Schwabsky, Vitamin P2, New Perspectives in Painting, London: Phaidon, 2002, no. 2, p. 35 (illustrated)
    T. Auerbach, Tauba Auerbach, Chaos, Deitch Projects, New York, 2010, p. 10 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    “I probably think about higher spatial dimensions more than any other aspect of my practice. At the root of my interest is the question of what consciousness is: what it's made of and what its limitations might be.” TAUBA AUERBACH

    Although Tauba Auerbach’s work draws on a disparate range of sources, it retains an undeniable idiosyncrasy. In part this can be explained by the large measure of freedom which the artist allows herself. She reflects “to tell you the truth, I think much more about math than about art history. I don't have the sense that I am or that I want to be advancing a particular historical thread…my work is very much motivated by my own curiosities, rather than by a desire to engage with a certain discourse.” (Tauba Auerbach as quoted in Courtney Fiske, “Tauba Auerbach’s Peripheral Vision”, Art in America, June 21 2012) In Crease I, this individuality of purpose finds expression. Preoccupied with liminal space, the artist allows depth and flatness to coexist. Rows of dots give way to gentle undulations; space grows, flattens, and re-emerges. Auerbach embraces flux, creating a work of striking complexity.

    Tauba Auerbach is interested in what she terms “abstract binaries” (Tauba Auerbach, “Interview by Aaron Rose”, ANP Quarterly, August 2008). Her work resists established dichotomies, and challenges ingrained patterns of thought. She works across a range of media, but common to her experiments in painting, sculpture and photography is a desire for conceptual overhaul. For her, aesthetic concerns are inextricable from theoretical ones. In her early career, Auerbach worked primarily with text. Both witty and conceptually informed, these works drew out language’s potential for ambiguity. Her 2007 work Subtraction (Splitting) is a striking articulation of this interest. Recalling the concrete poetry of Ian Hamilton Finlay, the top line of the work reads “SPLITTING.” On each subsequent line, a letter is removed, forming a new word until at the bottom only “I” remains. The work plays with contiguity, suggesting that seemingly distinct entities may in fact be coextensive.

    In more recent years, Auerbach has moved away from text, but her work retains many of the same concerns. She traces a particular through-line: “towards the end of working with language in an explicit way, I became really interested in binary code as a linguistic structure. That catapulted me into thinking about binaries in general as logic-structures, and eventually I landed on the binary between flatness and not-flatness.” (Tauba Auerbach, “Interview by Aaron Rose”, ANP Quarterly, August 2008) The present lot Crease I engages with this very binary. As the title indicates, the surface of the work appears creased; its ridges recall those of crumpled linen. One might suspect a reshaped canvas, given added depth by concealed struts. But this impression is an illusion. The canvas is flat; attending to the dots which run at a slight diagonal across the work, one recognises it as depthless. Yet this realisation does not lead to resolution. Ambiguity persists and the dimensionality of the piece remains fundamentally unstable. Just as “SPLITTING” slides into “I” and back, so three dimensions slide into two and back. The viewing experience is one of perpetual uncertainty; neither mind nor eye can settle.

    This uncertainty is a state which much of Auerbach’s work engenders. As the artist herself recognises, her work is able to “soften the distinction between 2D and 3D states of being.” (Tauba Auerbach as quoted in Courtney Fiske, “Tauba Auerbach’s Peripheral Visions”, Art in America, June 21 2012). Like the present lot, her “folds” series dates from 2009. The pieces which make up this series are formally very similar to Crease (I): delicately poised between two forms of dimensionality, they create the illusion of folded material on a flat plane. Latent in these works is the trompe l’oeil tradition, and in particular Dutch fjinschilder painting. From seventeenth-century painters like Gerard Dou, Auerbach inherits an artistic vocabulary; her work shares an interest in the manipulation of depth and in the creation of a compelling illusion. However, whilst this Golden Age genre forms an important part of her work’s genealogy, Auberbach recognises that her work draws upon other sources, particularly at the level of process. She notes that her pieces “physically come about more like Walead Beshty’s photographs do, rather than, say, how Cornelius Norbertus Gysbrecht’s trompe l’oeil paintings with fabric do.” (Tauba Auerbach as quoted in Charlotte Bedford, “Dear Painter…”, Frieze Magazine , Issue 145, March 2012). Beshty is an unexpected but illuminating point of comparison. In his FedEx series, the Los Angeles-based photographer constructs glass sculptures which he then ships around the world inside FedEx boxes. In transit, the glass structures develop cracks which serve as a document of their travels. Auberbach’s work is similarly reliant on the capacity of her chosen material to “remember” and to record the story of its own manipulation. In order to create the distinctive wrinkled effect, Auberbach folds her canvas, partially unfurls it, and then paints it. Because of the particular spray paint method that she employs, the impression of the folds persists even after the canvas has been stretched taut.


Crease I

acrylic paint, UV cured pigment on canvas
80 x 60 in. (203.2 x 152.4 cm)
Signed, titled and dated "TAUBA AUERBACH 2009 CREASE I" along the overlap.

$1,000,000 - 1,500,000 

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

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Evening Sale 14 May 2015 7pm