• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 1998

    Post -War And Contemporary Art Morning Session

    14 May 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 181

    John Chamberlain (b. 1927)

    Knightsbridge Slug

    Price Realised  

    John Chamberlain (b. 1927)
    Knightsbridge Slug
    galvanized steel
    22½ x 24 x 19 in. (57 x 61 x 48 cm.)
    Executed in 1968.


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    Knightsbridge Slug, wittily titled after an English fabricator of porcelain toilettes, is a prime example from Chamberlain's rare series of galvanized steel sculptures created between 1967 and 1969. Elements of criticism and humor appear within the title and obviously connect to concurrent developments in Minimalism through the use of unpainted galvanized steel, specifically refering to the austere galvanized works of Donald Judd. In fact, according to Klaus Kertess, Chamberlain made several of the works from this series from slightly damaged boxes initially fabricated for Donald Judd. (K. Kertess, "Color in the Round and Then Some: John Chamberlain's Work 1954-1985," in J. Sylvester, John Chamberlain: A Catalogue Raisonne of the Sculpture 1954-1985, New York, 1986, p. 36).

    Chamberlain created these galvanized works using a large compactor that would cave in and pop the square steel vessels. These fabricated galvanized steel boxes provided for Chamberlain a material free of any narrative association with Death and Disaster as was the popular notion regarding his sculptures produced with junked automotive steel. Reminiscing and ruminating, Chamberlain reflects on his creative process adding a little local color along the way: "The Galvanized sculptures began with fabricated boxes; they were something like forty-two inches high, eighteen inches deep, maybe twenty-eight inches wide. They had the same proportions as the cigarette packs I'd been crushing when I sat around in bars, drinking a lot and making sculpture out of cigarette packs as we emptied them" (J. Chamberlain, quoted in J. Sylvester, John Chamberlain: A Catalogue Raisonne of the Sculpture 1954-1985, New York, 1986, p. 20).

    Knightsbridge Slug is one of only 16 galvanized steel works recorded in the artist's catalogue raisonn/ae.

    Provenance

    Leo Castelli Gallery, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1968


    Literature

    J. Sylvester, John Chamberlain: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculpture 1954-1985, New York, 1986, p. 108, no. 338 (illustrated).


    Exhibited

    New York, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, John Chamberlain: A Retrospective Exhibition, December-February 1972, p. 82, No. 86 (illustrated).