• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2773

    Twentieth Century Art

    4 December 2007, Amsterdam

  • Lot 223

    Jan Schoonhoven (DUTCH, 1914-1994)


    Price Realised  


    Jan Schoonhoven (DUTCH, 1914-1994)
    signed, dated and inscribed with title 'J.J. Schoonhoven/1975' (on the reverse)
    white painted relief
    96 x 50 cm.
    Executed in 1975.

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    Kunsthandel Borzo, Den Bosch.
    Barbara Mathes Gallery, New York, where acquired by the present owner.

    Pre-Lot Text

    Expressionism, especially in its post-war abstract varieties such as Tachism, needs strong motifs. Without them it turns into a Mannerist stylistic device. Several artists, growing up with the legacy of CoBrA in the late 1950s and early 1960s, were dissatisfied in particular with the non-committal character of Tachism, and tried to establish working procedures that had some internal logic. Jan Schoonhoven for intstance, began as a Tachist painter and by the end of the 1950s was making free and bizarre looking Tachist reliefs in papier-mâché, mostly monochromatic in shades of grey. Confronted by the fact that he could make these reliefs any way he liked, without any real difference, he decided just to make them geometric. Giving them a geometric and seemingly more structural character, and making them just in white (leaving out colour), he at least avoided the impression, still present in the individually motivated forms in the Tachist reliefs, that he was expressing something. Fully accepting the contemporary viewpoint (most tellingly expressed by Marcel Duchamp) that a work of art was just an object which established itself as art within a specific cultural context, from 1960 he produced white reliefs, each of them visually ifferent by manipulation of the different elements, but all based on the same anti-Expressionist principle. (see: R.H. Fuchs, Dutch Painting, London 1978, p. 196-197)