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    Sale 1999

    Post -War And Contemporary Art Afternoon Session

    14 May 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 351

    John Wesley (b. 1928)

    Plague

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    John Wesley (b. 1928)
    Plague
    signed, titled and dated ''PLAGUE' John Wesley 1967' (on the reverse)
    acrylic on canvas
    68 x 80 in. (172.7 x 203 cm.)
    Painted in 1967.


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    John Wesley's characteristic use of serial repetition often draws attention to his close relationships with such minimalist artists as Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, or his ex-wife Jo Baer. However, despite their friendships, Wesley's use of repetition often creates a modest narrative mixed with emotion, giving his paintings a unique twist away from not only minimalism but also Pop-Art, another movement he is commonly associated with.

    Wesley's two-dimensional, heavily outlined and stylized manner of painting often further contributes to his comparisons to Pop-Art, especially when popular images such as Bumstead are included in the paintings, however as art historian Martin Hentschel explains it, his style if anything emits an atmosphere of the surreal:

    "[Wesley's] repetitions, rather, are obsessive, projective, enigmatic. Both Rabbits (1968) and Plague (1967) serve as good examples. The subjects of both paintings derive from an ambivalent sexual reverie, which, though it takes place in a man's brain, can also be interpreted as the projection of female imagination. Rabbits and babies appear as the products of self-perpetuating, traumatic flights of intellect. If one is looking for a peer here, the first artist that comes to mind is Reni Magritte, who often moved in a similar sphere" (M. Hentschel, John Wesley: Paintings, Gemälde, Schilderijen, 1963-1992. exh.cat, Stedelijk Museum, 1993, p. 20).

    "Elaborate good humor to downright damned foolishness in Western visible arts is scarce. Jack Wesley can deal them with weird eccentric precision - just about as well as any artist whom I know. And he has a long, irreverent history to prove it all.
    I salute you, dear Jack, as one hell of a sly wise painterly adept. So Paul Klee to you, good guy" (D. Flavin, as quoted as an untitled statement from The Chinati Foundation in, A. Heiss, John Wesley: Paintings 1961-2000, New York, 2000, p. 201).

    Provenance

    Reinhard Onnasch Collection, Berlin
    Zwirner & Wirth, New York


    Literature

    Cheap! Paintings From The Years 1962-1982, Reinhard Onnach Ausstellungen, Berlin, 1983.
    John Wesley: Paintings, Gemalde, Schilderijen, 1963-1992, Frankfurt, 1993.
    A. Heiss, John Wesley Paintings 1961-2000, New York, 2000, p. 168 (illustrated).


    Exhibited

    Cologne, Galerie Rudolf Zwirner, 1973
    Berlin, Reinhard Onnasch Ausstellugen, 1982
    Franfurt, Portikus, Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, 1993
    New York, Zwirner and Wirth, 2006