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  • Provenance

    Matthew Marks Gallery, New York

  • Exhibited

    New York, Matthew Marks Gallery, Thomas Demand, 5 May - 23 June, 2012 (another example exhibited)
    Berlin, Sprüth Magers, Thomas Demand, 8 September - 20 October, 2012 (another example exhibited)
    New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Now You See It, Photography and Concealment, 31 March – 1 September, 2014 (another example exhibited)
    Another example from this edition is held in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

  • Literature

    C. Vogel, "A Remade Tabloid Image of Houston's Last Meal," The New York Times, 26 April, 2012
    C. Bomsdorf, "Thomas Demand on Matisse and Mock-Ups," The Wall Street Journal, 24 July, 2014

  • Catalogue Essay

    Though the final product of his artistic process is a photograph, Thomas Demand does not identify as a photographer. Rather, he is a conceptual artist, one for whom photography and sculpture is an integral part of the process. Demand creates highly detailed life size models of found scenes out of paper and cardboard, the environments of which are based on various media forms and are usually highly recognisable. Beginning with an image in mind, Demand constructs sterile environments that are devoid of figures but that always suggest evidence of human activity. These are completely constructed from paper, retaining purposeful and subtle flaws.

    The present lot is modeled on a photograph Demand saw in the New York Times in 2011. The original, as well as Demand's simulacra, is an image of the Wildenstein Institute vault in Paris that was raided by police because it was suspected that concealed within its walls were several works looted by the Nazis during the Second World War. Dozens of works were uncovered of which the Wildenstein family claimed to have no record. Vaults and storage facilities of galleries and museums have served as inspiration for many contemporary artists, the quintessential example being Fred Wilson’s 1994 exhibition Mining the Museum. During this exhibition Wilson ‘mined’ the vaults of the Maryland Historical Society and curated a show in which he juxtaposed the artifacts he found as a way to address the historical injustices that emerge when histories are put on display. While Demand's work is not as overtly political, it does follow suit with a politically ‘hot’ subject and raises questions regarding repatriation of stolen and looted artworks and artifacts and the lack of regulation in the global trade of art.

    For Demand, process is as important as the final image. After meticulously creating and photographing the environments they are immediately destroyed, never to exist outside of his studio. Destroying the works is in part a practical consideration; as the artist has explained, ‘If you make sculptures, you know you might not sell the sculptures, or you have to learn to live with the sculptures you’ve made … I thought it was much better to get rid of the stuff. Once you have the idea, when you need it you can always make it again’ (Thomas Demand in Dan Abbe, '‘Photography is not actually that difficult’ An interview with Thomas Demand,' Papercuts, 27 November 2013). Thus there was also a practical reason why Demand began to use photography in his artistic practice. He explains:

    ‘I started as a sculptor, I made disposable objects and after a while started to document them. I realised that I didn’t reconise my concern with that object in the photograph, probably because my photography skills were zero. I saw two possibilities, either become a professional photographer, or make another object which was actually distorted, but reacting exactly to what I thought was distorted by the photographic process. And so I had two objects: one of them was the straight object which I wanted to do, and the other one was a translation of that object into a very uneven one, but which looked straight in a photograph. At some point I realised I didn’t need the object any longer. That’s not what the work is about.’ (Thomas Demand in Dan Abbe, ''‘Photography is not actually that difficult’ An interview with Thomas Demand,' Papercuts, 27 November 2013)

    By recreating and emphasising what Demand sees as ‘distortions’ in the original image, he deliberately draws the viewer to question the flaws and perfection of the image and reconsider the relationship between his image, the original and the world.

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE AMERICAN COLLECTION

Ο ◆46

Vault

2012
chromogenic print, face-mounted to Plexiglas
220 x 277 cm (86 5/8 x 109 in.)
Signed, titled, numbered and dated 'Thomas Demand 1/6 2012 Vault' on the reverse. This work is number 1 from an edition of 6.

Estimate
£60,000 - 80,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £104,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
[email protected]
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London 29 June 2015 7pm