Wade Guyton - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Thursday, May 10, 2018 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Galerie Francesca Pia, Bern
    Private Collection
    Christie's, New York, May 12, 2015, lot 140
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    For the past two decades, Wade Guyton’s “U” paintings have become synonymous with contemporary art in a post-digital world. In the present lot, three “U” motifs rendered in peachy pink occupy the center right of the composition, overlaid with black, orange, pink and green geometric bands and rectangles running perpendicular to each other. The resulting image is a harmonious composition which is almost perfect if not for two areas of splattered black ink in the lower half of the canvas. In producing these works, Guyton relies on an imperfect technological technique in which he feeds the linen surface through a digital Epson printer, embracing every error, jam and smudge. As such, the artist uses his unique method of production to record the instability of the printer, and in turn, the imperfections found within the final composition. As curator Scott Rothkopf explained the year after the present lot’s execution, “We’re not really sure what the Us are doing…apart from serving as the hapless subjects on which Guyton can exact his painterly experiments.” (Scott Rothkopt, "Modern Pictures" in Color, Power & Style, exh. cat., Kunstverein Hamburg, Hamburg, 2006, p. 77)

    Of the letter U’s importance in his practice, Guyton has described the motif as “sufficiently abstract… It felt like it could slip out of being a letter.” (Wade Guyton, quoted in Donna De Salvo, Wade Guyton OS, exh. cat., Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2012, p. 204) In Untitled, the three U forms are the only rounded shapes found in the composition, thus standing out within the grid that Guyton has imposed on top of and around them. In its unique sense of balance, the present lot is thus reminiscent of the Minimalist aesthetic that Guyton was influenced by during his time as a guard at the Dia Art Foundation in Chelsea, surrounded by the works of Donald Judd, Dan Graham and Dan Flavin. And yet in his manipulation of found imagery and use of the digital process, Guyton’s masterwork simultaneously references the mechanical reproduction akin to Pop artists like Andy Warhol and his contemporary, Christopher Wool. It is precisely this combination of controlled and accidental process that makes Guyton’s inkjets at once both graphic and abstract, establishing their special place in the canon of contemporary art.

Property of an Important European Collector



Epson UltraChrome inkjet on canvas
63 3/4 x 43 3/8 in. (162 x 110.2 cm.)
Executed in 2005, this work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.

$350,000 - 450,000 

Sold for $387,000

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Rebekah Bowling
Head of Day Sale, Afternoon Session
New York
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20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 16 May 2018