• Post-War & Contemporary Art Af auction at Christies

    Sale 2599

    Post-War & Contemporary Art Afternoon Session

    15 November 2012, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 515

    Robert Morris (b. 1931)


    Price Realised  


    Robert Morris (b. 1931)
    felt and metal grommets
    88 x 92 x 25 in. (223.5 x 233.6 x 63.5 cm.)
    Executed in 1976.

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    The present sculptures come from a collection that began with a focus on furniture and the decorative arts, starting with Antebellum Colonial and Art Deco in the late 1990s. When the couple acquired a serious collection of key pieces from the 1970s including makers such as Vladimir Kagan, Garouste & Bonetti and Maria Pergay, they selected a sculpture from Frank Stella's Bamboo series to hang on the wall. Drawn to works that felt well-made and stabile, they moved toward Minimalist examples by Sol LeWitt and Robert Morris. Particular interest was paid to texture, which added an additional dimension to their surroundings that painting could not achieve.

    The leading figures of Minimalism--including Robert Morris and Sol LeWitt--strove to create objects which blurred the boundaries between painting and sculpture and were characterized by unitary, geometric forms and industrial materials. They emphasized cool anonymity over the gestural expressionism of the previous generation of painters, attempting to avoid metaphorical associations, symbolism, and suggestions of spiritual transcendence. Anish Kapoor pays homage to the Minimalism's faith in weightless volumes, abstraction, specific materials and simplicity of form while going one step further to explore different materials' capacities for visual illusion.

    In the hierarchy of artistic medium, sculpture historically takes a back seat to painting. The following four three-dimensional works come from collectors who are savvy enough to recognize the importance of variety in their acquisitions. Whether encased in a wall, stationed on a floor, constructed from felt and metal grommets or plugged in to an outlet, each artist represents a key moment in the history of contemporary sculpture.

    By the late 1960s and 1970s Robert Morris was incorporating unconventional materials in his work. His notion of antiform--art that lays bare the process of its own making--can be seen in his objects made from materials such as rope, thread waste, mirrors, steam, and dirt. Subsequent projects in the 1970s included monumental site-specific outdoor earthworks in Europe and the United States.

    Among these nontraditional materials used by the artist, perhaps the most interesting was industrial felt. Between 1967 and 1996 Morris produced works that employed industrial felt as a sculptural medium. Whether rolled on the ground like a carpet ready to be stored (exhibited as "raw material") or piled up, stacked, up, hung from the wall, with our without cut slits, with or without incorporated pipes, Morris's felt works reveal his interest in the property of the material, the role of gravity and the idea of liberating form though chance. In an interview with Phil Patton in 1983, Morris, explaining his choice of felt as his working medium, maintains that "felt has anatomical associations; it relates to the body-it's skinlike. The way it takes form, with gravity, stress, balance, and the kinesthetic sense, I liked all that" (N. Tsouti-Schillinger, Robert Morris Have I Reasons Work and Writings, 1993-2007, New York, 2008, pp. 7-8).


    Leo Castelli Gallery, New York
    Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles
    William J. Hokin collection, Chicago

    Saleroom Notice

    Please note the correct date for this lot is 1976.

    Pre-Lot Text



    Los Angeles, Margo Leavin Gallery, American Sculpture, July-September 1984.
    Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, Selections from the William J. Hokin Collection, April-June 1985, p. 79 (illustrated).
    Cologne, Galerie Philomene Magers, Felt Pieces, April-June 1994.
    Los Angeles, Margo Leavin Gallery, 25 Years: An Exhibition of Selected Works, September-October 1995.

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