Vivian Springford - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale Hong Kong Friday, October 6, 2023 | Phillips
  • “[Painting is an] attempt to identify with the universal whole... I want to find my own small plot or pattern of energy that will express the inner me in terms of rhythmic movement and color. The expansive center of the universe, of the stars, and of nature is my constant challenge in abstract terms.”
    — Vivian Springford

    Celebrated for her bold explorations of colour and experimentations with form, Vivian Springford’s virtuosic works fuse abstraction with the irreversible nature of artistic mediums. First conceived in the 1960s and perfected a decade later, her signature ‘one-shot’ paintings are created by allowing diluted acrylic washes to ripple out from the centre of the canvas. Influenced by the permanence of Chinese calligraphy, Springford achieves brilliant gradations in a single attempt without edits or alteration. An avid traveller, her works also draw inspiration from the natural world, including geological features and astronomical phenomenon. 


    Kenneth Noland, Untitled, 1959
    Sold by Phillips New York, 16 November 2017 for $495,000 (premium)
     © 2023 The Kenneth Noland Foundation / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


    Painted in 1970, the current lot is a prime example of Springford’s distinct stain technique. Surrounded by splatters of rainbow hues, vivid blue pigment radiates in almost halo-like circles to form an awe-inspiring burst of passion. Reminiscent of Colour Field painting and Abstract Expressionism, Untitled (VSF093) recalls the works of artists such as Kenneth Noland (see Untitled (1959)). While Noland stains the canvas in a precise manner, the lack of lines and boundaries in Springford’s practice instead emphasises the organic nature of curves and patterns. Defying categorisation, her technical inventiveness and formal originality have sealed the artist’s place in the canon of postwar abstract painting.

    Springford was an active figure in the New York art world from the 1950s to the 1970s, but later retreated from the public eye to work in isolation due to macular degeneration. Since the re-discovery of her works in 1998, Springford has been honoured with several solo shows, most recently at Almine Rech in New York in 2020-2021, and at Taka Ishii Gallery in Tokyo in 2021, the artist’s first solo exhibition in Asia.


    • Provenance

      Gary Snyder Fine Art, New York
      Private Collection, USA
      Phillips, New York, 30 September 2020, lot 17
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

    • Artist Biography

      Vivian Springford

      Vivian Springford (b. 1913-2003) is associated with the Abstract Expressionist and Color Field movements of the 1950s-1970s in the United States. Springford retreated from public life in the 1980s as she lost her eyesight due to macular degeneration. Springford shared a studio with Chinese-American artist and poet Walasse Ting for nearly 10 years, and she would credit him with introducing her to Chinese calligraphy —a major influence on her early work. Her abstract style transformed over her career from gestural drip paintings to canvases stained with watery pools of color that call to mind fellow AbEx artists like Helen Frankenthaler and Morris Louis.

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Martinique Series

signed titled and dated 'Vivian Springford "Martinique Series" 1972-73' on the reverse
acrylic on canvas
218.5 x 224.9 cm. (86 x 88 1/2 in.)
Painted in 1972-1973.

Full Cataloguing

HK$700,000 - 900,000 

Sold for HK$889,000

Contact Specialist

Anastasia Salnikoff
Head of Day Sale, Associate Specialist
+852 2318 2014

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 7 October 2023