Tauba Auerbach - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Wednesday, February 11, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Deitch Projects, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    'I guess one of the biggest shifts I had in my thinking, in my work process, was that I stopped conceiving of higher spatial dimensions as ‘beyond’ and started thinking that these higher dimensions might in fact be sort of coiled up within our space. This is up for debate, but it’s an interesting and different way to think about it.'

    - TAUBA AUERBACH, 2012

    Occupying a dazzling sphere of their own, Tauba Auerbach’s Fold Paintings form a striking articulation of the gap between painting and sculpture. Auerbach’s willingness to inhabit an inter-dimensional space adorned with tetrachromatic colour makes for pieces as gorgeous to behold as they are fascinating to examine. The present lot is one of her most seminal Fold works: a sculpted painting that enchants with its brilliant iridescence, and offers an enthralling demonstration of the artist's distinctive technique.

    The compelling intricacy of Untitled (Fold) X lies in its dichotomy of sculptural and two-dimensional elements. Auerbach’s signature method in creating her Fold paintings arises from first pressing and folding the raw canvas, then restretching it once it has achieved a network of impressions. Afterwards, Auerbach sprays industrial paint at several angles in order to elicit a raw chromatic scheme — one which rarely betrays a single dominant hue. Untitled (Fold) X is mathematical in its folded impressions: clean lines establish a primary network of rectangular lines, clearly punctuated by secondary, more abstract folds that run across the middle of each initial rectangle. The stretched result is a wonderfully musical pattern of sharpness and lyricism, alternating between the definition of the primary folds and the caprice of the secondary creasing.

    Iridescence, or the changeable nature of colour, is another of Auerbach’s most recognizable visual cues in this particular series. Through her directional application of hue we find a geographical landscape of height and depth, despite the taut stretch of the two-dimensional picture. At the right lower quadrant of the picture, the peaks of bright green and grey folds conjure a majestically linear mountain range, while the imperfect secondary folds in the bottom right make for a troubled darkness of pastel blues. Auerbach has testified that the application of colour on her paintings is an effort to resurrect the recent but invisible trauma that she has forced upon her canvas: ‘Because I spray the released canvas directionally, the pigment acts like a raking light and freezes a likeness of the contoured materials onto itself … the record of that topological moment is carried forward after the material is stretched. Each point on the surface contains a record of itself in that previous state.’ (Tauba Auerbach in C. Bedford, ‘Dear Painter...,’ Frieze, March 2012).

    Auerbach’s choice to live in what she has termed the ‘2.5 dimension’ — that is, the mysterious area of undetermined form between painting and sculpture — has positioned her amongst the most historically significant explorers of artistic dimensionality. The Fold paintings continue a tradition of studying drapery first broached in the marble sculptures of Greece and Rome, and continued by seminal Renaissance and Classical painters. Auerbach’s disbelief that only two artistic dimensions exist allows her to create works of comparable grandeur: ‘[the work is] instilled with conceptual rigor and philosophical challenge. She has been able to update the type of conceptual structures in the work of an earlier generation of artists ... extend[ing] the tradition of modern abstraction painting into a contemporary context, both conceptually and formally.’ (J. Deitch, 'The Painting Factory: Abstraction after Warhol,' exh. cat., Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2012, p. 7).

    The mesmerising optical contours of the present lot, along with their chromatic layering, also elicit comparison to a more recent group of artists, namely the Abstract Expressionists and their successors. In Auerbach’s employment of delicate pastels and divisions of colour, we find the Multiform Paintings of Mark Rothko. But pictorial similarity is not the only concept that binds these two artists together in the pantheon of modern painters: they also share in the belief that abstract colour and form are vessels of deep emotional experience, even when divorced from gestural elements.

    Elsewhere on the canvas, we find Ed Ruscha’s seminal landscape geography and colour gradations at work in Auerbach’s use of industrial painting methods, and, of course, Agnes Martin’s visual wonders in dissolving borders between fields of colour. These optical tricks common to Ruscha and Martin, when married to the insistent power of Rothko’s emotional universalism, create a bold and transcendent picture in Auerbach’s Untitled (Fold) X. The result is a picture originally designed by mathematical logic, yet beholden to the chaos that brings forth the many layers of its multifaceted beauty.


Untitled (Fold) X

acrylic on canvas
158.7 x 121.9 cm (62 1/2 x 47 7/8 in.)
Signed, titled and dated 'TAUBA AUERBACH 2009 UNTITLED FOLD X' on the overlap.

£1,000,000 - 1,500,000 

Sold for £1,202,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 12 February 2015 7pm