It seems only natural that the daughter of Professor Julius Held, one of the preeminent art historians of the twentieth century, should herself pursue a career in the arts. Anna Held Audette began her career as a printmaker before turning to painting in oils, her preferred medium. Like the American Charles Sheeler, whose urban and industrial themes defined an iconography of the "machine age" aesthetic, Anna Audette's compositions reflect and comment on our own industrial age. With subjects ranging from ships and planes to machines, buildings and scrap metal, her large-scale canvases remind us that, in her own words, "the triumphs of technology are just a moment away from obsolescence".
Anna Audette cites a number of artists as influential to the development of her style, among them Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Piet Mondrian, Walter Murch, and Franz Kline. Certainly, the spare geometric elegance of a Mondrian can be seen in a work such as Audette's Factory Wall (2005), with its near-abstract representation of a multi-paned factory window. Sheeler's presence, too, is felt, in Sloss Iron Furnaces (2002) - a typical Sheeler subject of smoke stacks on rooftops. And Audette's Factory (2005) could, at first glance, be a characteristic work by Edward Hopper: the red brick exterior, cool ultramarine shadows, and overwhelming sense of loneliness and isolation are all hallmarks of that artist. To adopt a more historical perspective, one can even consider Anna Audette's architectural paintings through the filter of settecento vedutisti such as Giovanni Paolo Panini and Hubert Robert, artists whose elegant capricci of Roman ruins comment on the grandeur of an ancient civilization and the melancholy of its subsequent decline and decay. The artist herself observes a close relationship between her Demolition (1993) and a sketch by Robert. Often, because of the extremely close-focus perspective of many works - as with Audette's Scrap Metal XVII, lot 67 in the present sale - they convey an intensely tactile and sculptural sensation, with the twisting and gleaming surfaces of a work by John Chamberlain.
Paintings by Anna Audette can be found in such prestigious collections as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK; and the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven.