Ugo Rondinone - Contemporary Art Part I New York Wednesday, May 11, 2011 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Sadie Coles, London

  • Catalogue Essay

    “If Rondinone’s art seems elusive, it is perhaps because the forms he uses, culled from both high art and popular culture, meld into a composite vision that, like reality itself, is increasingly difficult to grasp as a whole. Rather than concoct a strategy to critique the complexities and contradictions of life, Rondinone offers instead a highly personal, parallel reality, which - filled with fantasy, angst, monotony, and despair — may be closer to the truth than we’d care to admit” (E. Janus, “Ugo Rondinone,” Artforum, Nov. 1998).

    Mixed-media artist Ugo Rondinone’s expansive body of work runs the gamut from neon signs to stark landscape paintings to textural sculptures. The highly variable nature of Rondinone’s technique makes him hard to label — his style oscillates, sometimes even within a single work, between roughhewn expressivity and clean-lined simplicity. The present lot, however, tends more toward the latter style, with a color scheme that is bold and reductive. The graphic quality of the black stripes is reminiscent of comic books or billboards, as well as of the thick outlines utilized by Pop artists. Yet this painting ultimately rejects the conventional Pop color palette — based on jarring primary colors — which it initially seems to reference. Rondinone’s four colored stripes have unexpectedly delicate hues, ranging from rose pink
    at the top to dusky blue at the bottom, that are a far cry from the shocking yellow and aggressive red often used by Pop painters. Dark gray, when interspersed with black, softens the contrast even further. Rondinone thus modernizes his graphic subject through the careful juxtaposition of dark and pastel colors.

    This piece also shows Rondinone’s engagement with ideas drawn from Op art and minimalism in addition to Pop. For instance, the linear motif evokes the work of Frank Stella, while the slick geometry reflects that of Bridget Riley. Furthermore, Rondinone’s heavy black stripes — too thick be lines but too thin to be rectangles — recall the ambiguity of hard edged abstract paintings of the late 1960s. Thus, Rondinone has transformed fifteen seemingly straightforward stripes into something much more nuanced. While the work’s title, Vierterjunizweitausendundvier, translates to “June 4, 2004”, this painting engages with a myriad of artistic precedents that allow it to transcend the specific date with which it is labeled.


No. 339 Vierterjunizweitausendundvier

Gloss acrylic and polyester resin.
59 x 157 1/2 in. (150 x 400 cm.)

$150,000 - 200,000 

Sold for $194,500

Contemporary Art Part I

12 May 2011
New York