Michael Ayrton (1921-1975)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more Property from the Le Marchant family
Michael Ayrton (1921-1975)

The Arkville Minotaur

Michael Ayrton (1921-1975)
The Arkville Minotaur
signed and numbered 'Michael Ayrton/3/3' (on the top of the base)
bronze with a grey/green patina
86 in. (218.5 cm.) high, including base
Conceived in 1968-69, and cast circa 1974-75
Acquired directly from the artist, and by descent.
P. Cannon-Brookes, Michael Ayrton An Illustrated Commentary, Birmingham, 1978, p. 94, no. 166, another cast illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Michael Ayrton, Maze and Minotaur, Bournemouth, Bruton Gallery, 1973, illustrated on back cover.
Portsmouth, City Art Gallery, Michael Ayrton, Maze and Minotaur, February - March 1973: this exhibition travelled to Southampton, City Art Gallery, March - April 1973; Bath, Holburne Museum, April - May 1973; Exeter, City Art Gallery, May - June 1973; Rye Art Gallery, June - August 1973.
Caerphilly, Caerphilly Castle, on long-term loan.
Wakefield, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, February 1987 - April 2001.
Witley Court, Jerwood Sculpture Park, May - September 2001.
Wakefield, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, October 2001 - April 2013.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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André Zlattinger
André Zlattinger

Lot Essay

'What is a man that I am not a man
Sitting cramped pupate in this Chrysalis?
My tongue is gagged with cud and lolls round words
To speak impeded of my legend death.
My horns lack weapon purpose, cannot kill
And cannot stab the curtain of the dark.'

Michael Ayrton

The idea of the maze and the mythological figures of Daedalus and Icarus and the Minotaur was one that pre-occupied Ayrton for much of his life. The final visual expression of the myth as conceived by the artist over 13 years was the Maze at Arkville, N.Y., built for the New York banker Armand G. Erpf and completed in 1968-69. Consisting of 1680 feet of stone pathways and brick walls eight feet high, at two hundred feet in diameter it was the largest labyrinth built since Classical antiquity. At the centre were two chambers, one for the Arkville Minotaur lined with red stucco, and the other, lined with polished bronze sheets for the Daedalus/Icarus Matrix II. Identifying himself with both characters, Ayrton gives the Minotaur human hands and feet, emphasising the tragic figure trapped both within its physical limitations and the maze itself. The Minotaur remained in his frustration at being unable to communicate fully with the world, a potent symbol for Michael Ayrton.

Cast in an edition of three, one cast is at the Arkville Maze, the other is owned by the Corporation of London. In addition Christie's sold the artist's cast on 18 November 2005, lot 118.

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