William Anastasi (b. 1933)
William Anastasi (b. 1933)

Subway Drawing (Way to John Cage)

Details
William Anastasi (b. 1933)
Subway Drawing (Way to John Cage)
signed 'William Anastasi' (lower right); dated and inscribed 'nov 15 1988 2:40 PM' (on the reverse)
graphite on paper
11 1/8 x 11½in. (28.3 x 29.2cm.)
Executed in 1988
Provenance
Private Collection, Denmark.

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Lot Essay

Anastasi's work plays upon chance and indeterminacy through site specific self-representation and reference which is most effectively engineered through his drawing. Drawing has long been important to Anastasi and remains till this day his most prominent practice since the 1960s. The processes in which Anastasi has used to generate his drawings are drawn through preoccupation, consisting of a random process that exposes the order of an additional situation. His Pocket Drawings were often compiled whilst in attendance of an orchestra or engrossed in conversation during a cab ride, he would fold a piece paper and make marks with a small pencil inside his pocket: "Guilt is not doing drawing whilst partaking in other interests" (W. Anastasi quoted in "William Anastasi: Drawing Blind", New Art TV, http://www.newarttv.com/William+AnastasiA+Drawing+Blind, 20 October 2007.). Anastasi is fascinated by the imitation of an instance beyond his control, the separation of his body and mind and the spontaneity of life. During his subway journeys (the canvas for his Subways Drawings) to play chess with John Cage, who was a lifelong friend until his passing in 1992, Anastasi functioned in the manner of a seismograph, erect, pencil in hand, tip on paper and all auditory and visual senses hindered. As the train lurched and jolted marks were made, collecting the motion of the train's journey, the only human interference was the swapping of hands between stops. Here Anastasi shared a similar interest with his influential companion in that they both related to chance and lack of decision (as is displayed in Cage's mesostic I Ching and Geiger counter drawings), but what is more stimulating for Anastasi is the act of repetition. The reoccurrence of layers due to repetitive cycles in Anastasi's work is fundamental to his being in regard to his admiration for Soren Kierkegaard who in Anastasi's words created a "Recipe for life" (ibid.) in saying, "the love of repetition is the only happy love, like that of recollection" (Ibid.). The outcomes of Anastasi's ideas and processes are still unique till this day due to repetition. His language translates, improves and develops through a recurring rhythm that never tires and remains distinct due to its physical conclusion: "It's not psychological, it's physical!"(John Cage quoted in William Anastasi, Dove Bradshaw, John Cage, Tom Marioni, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Tobey Group Show, exh. cat., New York, 1991, p. 2).

William Anastasi's works can be found within the collections of The British Museum, London, Museum of Modern Art, New York and The Guggenheim Museum, New York.

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