• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2169

    Post War and Contemporary Art Afternoon Session

    14 May 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 350

    Tim Noble & Sue Webster (b. 1966 & b. 1967)

    Toxic Schizophrenia

    Price Realised  


    Tim Noble & Sue Webster (b. 1966 & b. 1967)
    Toxic Schizophrenia
    516 UFO caps, lamps and holders, 6mm foamex, vinyl, aerosol paint
    102 3/8 x 78¾ x 2¾ in. (260 x 200 x 7 cm.)
    Executed in 1997. This work is from an edition of three.

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    Seductive, blaringly violent, shimmering and glorious, Toxic Schizophrenia takes pop art to the extreme, blowing it up in lights as flashy as a Vegas skyline. The present work represents the very best of punk provocateurs Noble & Webster, taking its title from Tom Wolfe's 1965 book The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby:

    He had been rolling up and down the incredible electric-sign gauntlet of Las Vegas' Strip, U.S. Route 91, where the neon and the par lamps--bubbling, spiraling, rocketing, and exploding in sunbursts ten stories high out in the middle of the desert--celebrate one-story casinos. He had been gambling and drinking and eating now and again at the buffet tables the casinos keep heaped with food day and night, but mostly hopping himself up with good old amphetamine, cooling himself down with meprobamate, then hooking down more alcohol, until now, after sixty hours, he was slipping into the symptoms of toxic schizophrenia (T. Wolfe, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline, New York, 1965).

    Toxic Schizophrenia is a classic tattoo design of a heart pierced by a dagger. The sophisticated light sequencing makes for a mesmerizing display of alternating colors that depicts blood draining from the heart. The work is said to be inspired by the Blackpool illuminations, an end-of-summer ritual in which the traditionally working-class seaside resort of Blackpool comes alive with flashing lights celebrated for their unashamed vulgarity. Blurring the boundaries between highbrow and lowbrow, love and hate, suffering and glory, Noble and Webster present to the viewer the seductive and spectacular effects of consumer society.


    Gagosian Gallery, London


    R. Timms, Young British Art: The Saatchi Decade, London, 1999, p. 497 (illustrated).
    N. Rosenthal, Apocalypse: Beauty and Horror in Contemporary Art, London, 2000, p. 168 (illustrated).
    T. Noble & S. Webster, Wasted Youth, New York, 2006, pp. 19-22 (illustrated).


    London, 20 Rivington Street, Home Chance, 1997 (another example exhibited).
    London, Chisenhale Gallery; Exeter, Spacex Gallery, The New Barbarians: Tim Noble and Sue Webster, February-May 1999, p. 27 (illustrated).