Peter Halley (b. 1953)

River's Edge

Peter Halley (b. 1953)
River's Edge
signed twice and dated 'Peter Halley 1990' (on the reverse)
Day-Glo acrylic and Roll-A-Tex on four attached canvases
overall: 97¾ x 190¼ in. (248.2 x 483.2 cm.)
Painted in 1990.
Sonnabend Gallery, New York
Anon. sale; Christie's, New York, 16 November 1999, lot 52
Private collection, London
Berlin, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Metropolis, April-July 1991, pp. 146-147, no. 60 (illustrated).
Bordeaux, capc Musée d'Art Contemporain; Pully/Lausanne, FAE Musée d'Art Contemporain; Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia; and Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Peter Halley, December 1991-November 1992, p. 95, no. 26 (illustrated).
Essen, Museum Folkwang, Peter Halley: Bilder Der 90er Jahre, November 1998-January 1999, p. 33 (illustrated).
Sale room notice
The correct dimensions are 97¾ x 190¼ in. (248.2 x 483.2 cm.)

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Amanda Lassell
Amanda Lassell

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Lot Essay

River's Edge was the second of the two diptychs that I painted in 1990. Both had a full-colour panel on the left and a grisaille panel on the right. The first painting was Double Elvis, whose left-hand panel was yellow, red, pink and orange. Double Elvis had a kind of mid-1960s euphoria that I associated with pop art and the Day-Glo optimism of that era. River's Edge was intended as a more sombre sequel, as is suggested by its title, which referred to the bleak and uneasy movie that appeared in that year. In River's Edge, the colours in the top left-hand panel remain the same, but in the base the Day-Glo pink and orange are replaced by more sombre broken earth tones.

My primary reference in making these paintings was art-historical. I had long been interested in Jasper Johns' playful grisaille- and primary-hued versions of the same paintings. I was also specifically thinking of Frank Stella's concentric-square diptych, Jasper's Dilemma, which also juxtaposes a coloured left panel with a grey-scale right panel.

I think River's Edge does touch on the idea of multivalent as opposed to binary systems, as you suggest. However, it has a more immediate resonance in my personal fascination with the difference between full-colour and grey-scale images, which operate simultaneously as separate nuanced languages in our graphic culture (P. Halley as quoted in Once Upon a Time in America, London, 1999, p. 20).

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