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Robert Longo (b. 1953)
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Robert Longo (b. 1953)

Untitled (Phoenix)

Robert Longo (b. 1953)
Untitled (Phoenix)
signed with the artist's initials and dated 'RL 2005' (lower right).
graphite and charcoal on paper
72 x 100in. (182.9 x 254cm.)
Executed in 2005
Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Los Angeles, Margo Leavin Gallery, Robert Longo "something wicked this way comes", 2005.
Special notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.
Sale room notice
Please note that the work is signed with the artist's initials and dated 'RL 2005' (lower right).

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Alexandra Werner
Alexandra Werner

Lot Essay

'Rendered in high contrast black and white, the drawings reproduce the moment of a tremendous surge of unleashed force, as the rich expanse of velvety charcoal surfaces parallels the subject's vastness, mystery and intensity. Devoid of people, location and colour, the looming crests of exploding power are notably singular portraits of emotional and physical forces. The near abstraction of the waves is strikingly dissimilar to the more familiar representations of the sea as poetic and romantic, or in terms of man against nature'
(Metro Pictures, Robert Longo: Monsters, September-October 2002, /12/, [accessed 13 September 2013]).

Capturing the moment when a colossal wave crests, Robert Longo's Untitled (Phoenix) from 2005 is a moment frozen in time, a wave that will never break. Striking in its monumentality, the dark glassy water in the barrel of the surf has been rendered in an absorbing monochrome drawing rendered in Longo's astonishing photo-realist style - the state of perfection he achieves through his meticulous hand makes Untitled (Phoenix) practically indistinguishable from a photograph. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the gigantic wave is a monumental example from the artist's acclaimed 'Monster Series' that was executed at the turn of the millennium.

Untitled (Phoenix) confronts the viewer with the overwhelming force of nature, as the wave on the precipice of crashing encompasses the entire work. Prefiguring the artist's later bulbous clouds from nuclear explosions, the dramatic spray from the wave imparts a sense of violence and power. Much like the work of Old Master artists, Longo harnesses chiaroscuro with an extraordinary emotional effect. Much of the epic narrative strength exhibited in Untitled (Phoenix) comes from Longo's seemingly incomparable elevation of the practice of drawing from the intimate to the monumental. Longo often used his own photographs as source imagery or from surf magazines and in the later renderings, a hybrid of both. Thus Longo's practice can be seen in relation to appropriated photography, not only because of his source material but also through his deliberate and meticulous photorealist aesthetic. The artist is represented in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, the Menil Collection, Houston, the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

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