• The Leslie Waddington Collecti auction at Christies

    Sale 14175

    The Leslie Waddington Collection

    4 October 2016, London, King Street

  • Lot 16

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

    Still Life: Mother's Day

    Estimate

    Patrick Caulfield, R.A. (1936-2005)
    Still Life: Mother's Day
    signed and inscribed 'STILL LIFE: MOTHER'S DAY/ PATRICK CAULFIELD' (on the stretcher)
    acrylic on canvas
    30 x 36 in. (76.2 x 91.5 cm.)
    Painted in 1975


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    ‘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 so 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

    In Patrick Caulfield’s Still Life: Mother’s Day, a playful palette of pink and blue belies a brooding mise-en-scène. A lamp stands sentinel in the centre of the composition; a telephone lies dormant, bathed in silent shadow. A cluster of rose petals hovers in a bowl: a gleaming trompe-l’oeil suffused with melancholy and whimsy in equal measure. Along with its companion piece Still Life: Father’s Day, the work exemplifies the atmospheric still life compositions for which Caulfield, by the mid-1970s, had received widespread critical acclaim. Inspired less by the work of his Pop Art contemporaries than the language of French Modernism, Caulfield sought to imbue everyday objects with a sense of otherworldly strangeness, employing flat planes of colour, reductive geometries, misaligned shadows and subtly warped perspective. It was during this period that the artist first began to introduce trompe-l’oeil elements into his compositions: immaculate photorealist illusions that stood in sharp contrast to his rigid, hard-edged graphics. Designed to mimic the fluctuations and distortions of memory, this collision of styles would give rise to some of Caulfield’s most distinctive works, notably the 1975 masterpiece After Lunch (Tate, London). Though cloaked in the saccharine disguise of a greetings card, Still Life: Mother’s Day is underpinned by a disarming sense of temporal dislocation: the rose is suspended mid-air, floating like a hologram, as if cut and spliced from another world. As the looming shadows threaten to engulf the entire composition, a deep pink glow radiates from its petals – the only sign of life in an otherwise desolate interior. Infused with the uncanny aura of enigma that defines Caulfield’s practice, the work has featured in several of the artist’s major retrospectives, including those held at the Walker Art Gallery, Serpentine Gallery, Hayward Gallery and Tate Britain.

    From as early as his student days at the Royal College of Art, where his contemporaries included David Hockney, R.B. Kitaj and Allen Jones, Caulfield maintained an uneasy relationship with the term ‘Pop Art’. Whilst his focus on quotidian objects aligned him with many of the movement’s major proponents – in particular Roy Lichtenstein, who shared Caulfield’s fascination with historic still life genres – his manipulations of pictorial space set him apart from his peers. Whilst much early Pop Art was born in relation to the languages of commerce and advertising that were sweeping the world during the 1960s, Caulfield’s works are tinged with nostalgia for past vernaculars. Drawing inspiration from artists such as Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris and Fernand Leger, his paintings push their contemporary subjects through wistful, archaic filters, flattening and buckling their contours in a manner loosely evocative of his Cubist forbears. In Still Life: Mother’s Day, Caulfield’s floral illusion interrupts this geometric play, offering a momentary window onto a distant, hyper-real world. ‘I find that in treating different things in different ways, they become a point of focus’, the artist explained. ‘It’s the idea that one doesn’t encompass everything, and that your eye can look around and see things. I’m not so 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’ (P. Caulfield, quoted in M. Livingstone, Patrick Caulfield: Paintings, Aldershot, 2005, p. 95). In Still Life: Mother’s Day, Caulfield’s subtle formal distortions frame an eternal moment of suspense: the silence that lingers in the air before the fall of a petal or – perhaps – the ringing of a telephone.

    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 Leslie Waddington.


    Literature

    'Patrick Caulfield Paintings 1963-1992', in Art and Design Profile No. 27, Vol. 7, 5/6, London, May - June 1992 (illustrated, p. 46).
    M. Livingstone, Patrick Caulfield: Paintings, Aldershot, 2005, pp. 84, 86, 106 (illustrated in colour, p. 92).
    M. Bracewell, 'Patrick Caulfield', Afterall, 2005, pp. 28-34, no. 12.
    C. Wallis, British Artists: Patrick Caulfield, London, 2013, no. 22 (illustrated in colour, p. 41).


    Exhibited

    London, Arts Council of Great Britain, Hayward Gallery, Hayward Annual, 1977, no. 24.
    Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery, Patrick Caulfield: Paintings 1963-81, August - October 1981, no. 37 (illustrated, p. 70). This exhibition travelled to London, Tate Gallery, October 1981 - January 1982.
    Leeds, City Art Gallery, The Irresistible Object: Still Life 1600-1985, October - December 1985, no. 30 (illustrated in colour, p. 27).
    London, Serpentine Gallery, Patrick Caulfield: Paintings 1963-1992, November 1992 - January 1993, not numbered (illustrated in colour, p. 46).
    London, British Council, Hayward Gallery, Patrick Caulfield, February - April 1999, no. 23 (illustrated in colour, p. 74). 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, Connecticut, Yale Center for British Art, October 1999 - January 2000.
    London, Tate Gallery, Patrick Caulfield - Gary Hume, June - September 2013, no. 22.