• The Leslie Waddington Collecti auction at Christies

    Sale 14175

    The Leslie Waddington Collection

    4 October 2016, London, King Street

  • Lot 26

    Patrick Caulfield, R.A. (1936-2005)

    Still Life: Maroochydore

    Estimate

    Patrick Caulfield, R.A. (1936-2005)
    Still Life: Maroochydore
    signed, inscribed and dated 'STILL LIFE: MAROOCHYDORE. 1980/1981 PATRICK CAULFIELD ' (on the canvas overlap)
    acrylic on canvas
    60 x 60 in. (152.4 x 152.4 cm.)
    Painted in 1980-1981


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    ‘Perhaps of all the paintings in Leslie’s collection, this slightly mad but brilliant concoction speaks most tellingly of a true aesthete’s insatiable visual hunger’ - M. Livingstone

    ‘The spaces and interiors we see in real life are always more surprising than those we could invent’ - P. Caulfield

    Conceived in 1980 and painted over the course of the following year, Still Life: Maroochydore is a vibrant example of Patrick Caulfield’s mature style, as the artist sought to push his painting in new directions. Elegantly combining a myriad of disparate painterly styles in a single composition, this work is a key example of the complexity of Caulfield’s incredibly varied and inventive style as it evolved through the 1970s and 80s. A play of juxtapositions and contrasts, it features passages of highly stylised and pared down forms next to details of a hyper-realistic nature. Caulfield rises to the challenge of making these disparate styles cohere in a single image, bringing together the starkly different idioms with an exacting attention to detail and a sophistication that reveals his painterly skills. The jarring juxtapositions generated by these contrasting idioms brought a new level of tension to Caulfield’s paintings, challenging our understanding of the pictorial space and endowing the scene with a mysterious, enigmatic quality. A seminal work from Caulfield’s oeuvre, Still Life: Maroochydore has featured in a number of important exhibitions of the artist’s work since its creation, showing at the XVIII São Paolo Bienal in 1985, the Serpentine Gallery over the winter of 1992-1993, and the British Council exhibition Patrick Caulfield, which travelled from the Hayward Gallery in London to the Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven in 1999.

    Featuring a richly laid table filled with a vast spread of traditional French cuisine at its centre, Still Life: Maroochydore focuses on the charged moment before a feast begins, subtly evoking the sense of anticipation that such an instant brings. Caulfield drew inspiration for this work from a variety of visual material, borrowing elements from a number of sources and transforming them into his own distinct idiom. Two of the most important references he used were a pair of postcards, depicting locations on opposite sides of the globe. The idyllic landscape visible through the open window is drawn from a black and white French carte postale, depicting a river-side view of Thoméry-sur-Seine, and translated here by the artist in a loose painterly style. The painting’s colour scheme of striking fiery oranges and emerald greens, meanwhile, was directly inspired by an image of the Australian town of Maroochydore, whose name is immortalised in the title of the painting. Caulfield had discovered a post-card of this small, picturesque hamlet on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland while on a five-week trip to Australia in the opening months of 1980, where he visited his neighbour and friend John Hoyland who was then in residency at Melbourne University. The rich array of foods which fill the table, meanwhile, are taken from classic photographic recipe cards for such dishes as escargots, bouillabaisse, and salade niçoise, their bright colours and simplified forms openly acknowledging their graphic source. Together, these images combine to lend Still Life: Maroochydore an air of the exotic, referencing the imagery of European mass tourism to the Mediterranean that populated holiday brochures, magazine adverts and television programmes of this period and evoking impressions of the sun, of journeys to a foreign land, and of a dream-like holiday location.

    This exploration of the multiple ways of picturing the world first emerged in Caulfield’s work in the 1970s, with paintings such as After Lunch, 1975 (Tate, London), examining the disparities between two drastically alternative modes of representation. In that seminal work a photorealistic image of the Château de Chillon hangs on the wall of a restaurant, its complex naturalism and highly focused detail offering a stark contrast to the simple black outlines and fields of saturated colour which make up the rest of the picture. The relationship between these differing representational modes is left deliberately ambiguous by Caulfield, who believed the visual power of their combination lay in the extreme disparities which occurred when such divergent styles sat alongside one another. Caulfield discussed this approach in his paintings on several occasions, explaining: ‘I find that in treating different things in different ways, they become a point of focus. It’s the idea that one doesn’t encompass everything, and that your eye can look around and see things. I’m not sure whether it’s your eye or whether it’s that your memory remembers things in different ways. There seems no reason to treat everything evenly. It’s more like a collaged memory of things. Some of the things are in sharp focus, and others, if you like, symbolise the object’ (P. Caulfield, quoted in M. Livingstone, Patrick Caulfield, Hampshire, 2005, p. 95).

    In Still Life: Maroochydore Caulfield pushes these juxtapositions to new levels, incorporating several different styles into one relatively compact composition. Alongside the use of photo-realism, which is confined to the plate hanging on the left of the window and the top of the pepper-mill, Caulfield introduces areas of loose painterly brushstrokes (the landscape), as well as highly stylized silhouettes in heavy black outlines (the bottles, ladle and pot, for example), and a flattened wood-grain effect which is reminiscent of the papier collé of Cubism (the window frame). The placement of the plate against this wood-grain undercuts the extreme realism of its rendering, accentuating the artificiality of the scene and causing the plate to appear to float on top of the composition. In this way, Still Life: Maroochydore is in many ways reminiscent of Henri Matisse’s early still lifes, such as Interior with Aubergines (1911, Musée de Grenoble), where flattened planes of bright colour and bold patterns appear in a collage-like manner that emphasises the artificiality of the painting’s construction. Caulfield adopts a similarly extreme flatness in the present work, playing with the illusion of depth throughout the composition, to both suggest and deny a sense of three-dimensional space. The unsettling effect of this arrangement causes the viewer to question their reading of the pictorial space, ensuring that we cannot accept the picture as an illusionistic rendering of an actual scene, but rather as a constructed interior, drawn from the artist’s own imaginative translation of found images. This, combined with the intimation but complete lack of a human presence, heightens the strange atmosphere which permeates the composition, infusing the scene with an inherent sense of mystery.

    Special Notice

    Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.


    Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner.


    Literature

    O. Gili, ‘Art house: Leslie and Clodagh Waddington in London’, in Vogue, No. 11, November 1986, p. 244 (the present work illustrated in colour, exhibited in the collector's home, p. 245).
    'Patrick Caulfield Paintings 1963-1992', in Art and Design Profile No. 27, Vol. 7, 5/6, London, May - June 1992 (illustrated, p. 10).
    Patrick Caulfield, exh. cat., London, Waddington Galleries, 2004 (illustrated in colour, p. 21).
    M. Livingstone, Patrick Caulfield: Paintings, Aldershot, 2005, pp. 104, 107, 112-115, 249, 254, 264 (illustrated in colour, p. 115; detail illustrated in colour, p. 113).
    C. Wallis, British Artists: Patrick Caulfield, London, 2013, no. 33 (illustrated in colour, p. 56).


    Exhibited

    Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery, Patrick Caulfield: Paintings 1963-81, August - October 1981, no. 48 (illustrated in colour, p. 81). This exhibition travelled to London, Tate Gallery, October 1981 - January 1982.
    São Paulo, British Council, XVIII Bienal, October - December 1985, not numbered.
    London, Serpentine Gallery, Patrick Caulfield: Paintings 1963-1992, November 1992 - January 1993, not numbered (illustrated, p. 10).
    London, British Council, Hayward Gallery, Patrick Caulfield, February - April 1999, no. 31 (illustrated in colour, pp. 86-87). This exhibition travelled to Luxembourg, Musée National Histoire d'Art, April - June 1999; Lisbon, Centro de Arte Moderna José de Azeredo Perdigao, July - September 1999; and New Haven, Yale Center for British Art, October 1999 - January 2000.
    London, Tate Gallery, Patrick Caulfield - Gary Hume, June - September 2013, no. 33.