• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2049

    Post-War & Contemporary Art Morning Session

    13 November 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 216

    Richard Pousette-Dart (1916-1992)

    The Wave

    Price Realised  


    Richard Pousette-Dart (1916-1992)
    The Wave
    signed 'Pousette Dart' (on the reverse) and titled and dated ''The Wave' 1950' (on the stretcher)
    oil on canvas
    60 x 96 in. (152.4 x 243.8 cm.)
    Painted in 1950.

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Contact the department

    "I strive to express the spiritual nature of the universe. Painting is for me a dynamic balance and wholeness of life; it is mysterious and transcendent, yet solid and real." (K. Hubner, "Richard Pousette-Dart's Early Work and its Origins" in Richard Pousette-Dart, exh. cat., The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, 2007, p. 21)

    It is in the 1940s that Pousette-Darts role as a leading New York School artist began to take shape. Finding inspiration in Oceanic, Northwest Indian and African Art, the artist took refuge in the archetypal and elaborated in his many notebooks on the universal signifiers in his own work. "circle of spirit, square of matter, circle of G-d, square of man" (K. Hubner, "Richard Pousette-Dart's Early Work and its Origins" in Richard Pousette-Dart, exh. cat., The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, 2007, p. 19). Pousette-Dart incorporated this self-prescribed symbolism into his work while concurrently applying his paints to the canvas in an urgent manner that paid respect to the composition in its entirety. It is with a keen interest in Eastern philosophy, the teachings of Taoism and Buddhism that Pousette-Dart approached his most critical works. The philosopher Henri Bergson, an early influence on Pousette-Dart, provided a literary model for the artist in his promotion of '" the creative role of intuition and it's primacy over analytical thinking."'(Ibid., p. 18). This sentiment resonates in the present lot, The Wave of 1950.

    The youngest of the founding members of the New York School it is generally granted that Pousette-Dart "holds title as the first to 'Paint Heroically' on a monumental scale." (L. Stokes Sims, "Richard Pousette-Dart and Abstract Expressionism: Critical Perspectives" in Ibid., p. 29). This distinction elevates the artist's early works to a status of respectability that defies conventional criticism. The Wave spreads itself like a kaleidoscopic fantasy unfolding triumphantly through a field of pulsating color adding an element of time to our experience of the picture. Our powers of perception are tested as proper viewing requires that we succumb to the works vibrations producing a retinal experience unlike any other. The Wave resonates with celestial and mythical derivations and symbolism supporting the artist's belief in the interplay between religion and creativity, providing a spiritual and metaphysical experience for the viewer.


    Estate of Richard Pousette-Dart, New York
    Knoedler & Company, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1998

    Pre-Lot Text

    Property from a Private American Collection