Tim Noble and Sue Webster - Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Tuesday, October 11, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Modern Art, Inc., London; Gagosian Gallery, New York; Private Collection

  • Exhibited

    London, 20 Rivington Street, Home Chance, 1997 (another example exhibited); London, Chisenhale Gallery; Exeter, Spacex Gallery, The New Barbarians: Tim Noble and SueWebster, February–May 1999

  • Literature

    R. Timms, Young British Art: The Saatchi Decade, London, 1999, p. 497 (anotherexample illustrated); N. Rosenthal, Apocalypse: Beauty and Horror in Contemporary Art, London,2000, p. 168 (another example illustrated); T. Noble & S. Webster, Wasted Youth, New York, 2006,pp. 19–22 (another example illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    The work of British artistic couple Tim Noble and Sue Webster speaks the languages of trash, glamour and kitsch. Celebrating youth culture and the legacy of Pop art, over the past two decades the artists have created a witty and ironic body of work filled with imagery culled from banal everyday life. Noble and Webster’s animated electric signs are perhaps their most recognized and widely acclaimed works. Illuminated with hundreds of light bulbs shimmering and flashing in resplendent glory, these sculptures pay homage to the decadence and vulgarity of Las Vegas. Noble and Webster became part of the post-YBA scene in the late 1990s and helped define the cultural scene that came to be known as Cool Britannia – closely associated with the then newly elected New Labour government led by Tony Blair – with the rise of Oasis, Blur and the Brit Pop music genre, and with Charles Saatchi’s landmark ‘Sensation’ show at London’s Royal Academy.

    The present lot, Toxic Schizophrenia, executed in 1997, is certainly one of the artists’ most significant, striking and powerful early electronic signs. It was one of just three exhibited at their ground-breaking solo exhibition held in their studio and home in Hoxton’s Rivington Street in London. Monumental and bright, at once repellent and alluring, Toxic Schizophrenia represents a classic tattoo design of a dagger struck through a pulsating, bleeding heart – a stock image of adolescent trash romance. The title of the work refers the 1965 book, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby by the American novelist Tom Wolfe, who, like the punk provocateurs Noble and Webster, straddles high and low culture in his essays about America’s subcultures and underbellies. Another source of inspiration are the famously garish illuminations at the British seaside resort of Blackpool. The heart and dagger motif associated with tattoo art, also echoes the Christian symbol of the Sacred Heart. Much like Jeff Koons’s Sacred Heart (1994–2007), in which an instance of Christian Catholic iconography becomes a giant, shiny and gift-wrapped consumer item, so Noble and Webster’s Sacred Heart becomes an entertaining spectacle at a funfair or at a holiday resort. Both works are highly seductive sculptures which at once celebrate and subvert our everyday visual culture and the transcendent nature of fine art.


Toxic Schizophrenia

516 coloured UFO reflector caps, lamps and fixtures, 6 mm Foamex, vinyl, aerosol and electronic sequencer.
260 x 200 x 7 cm (102 3/8 x 78 3/4 x 2 3/4 in).
This work is from an edition of 3.

£180,000 - 250,000 Ω♠

Sold for £229,250

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

12 October 2011