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Audio: Euan Uglow, Three in One
Euan Uglow (1932-2000)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF THE LATE SIR PAUL GETTY
Euan Uglow (1932-2000)

Three in One

Details
Euan Uglow (1932-2000)
Three in One
oil on canvas
36 x 56 in. (91.5 x 141.2 cm.)
Painted in 1967-68.
Provenance
Irene and Michael Gee, by 1979.
with Christopher Gibbs Gallery, London.
Sir Paul Getty K.B.E., and by descent.
Literature
Exhibition catalogue, From Life: English Art and the Model Today, London, Camden Arts Centre, 1968, no. 33, illustrated (unfinished state).
Studio International, 'From Life', February 1968, vol. 175, p. 70, no. 897, illustrated.
M. Murphy, exhibition catalogue, Euan Uglow, London, Arts Council, Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1974, no. 55, illustrated.
C. Lampert in 'Painting from life', exhibition catalogue, Hayward Annual, Arts Council, Hayward Gallery, 1979, pp. 11, 56, no. 168, illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Eight Figurative Painters: Michael Andrews, Frank Auerbach, Francis Bacon, William Coldstream, Lucian Freud, Patrick George, Leon Kossoff, Euan Uglow, Yale, Center for British Art, 1981, p. 101, no. 62, illustrated.
M. Golding, exhibition catalogue, Euan Uglow's Nudes, London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1989, p. 23, illustrated.
Browse & Darby, Euan Uglow, London, 1998, n.p., illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Euan Uglow, Controlled Passion: Fifty Years of Painting, Kendal, Abbot Hall Art Gallery, 2003, p. 73, no. 10, illustrated.
C. Lampert, Euan Uglow The Complete Paintings, London, 2007, p. 100, no. 231, illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, Let us face the future: art britànic 1945-1968, Barcelona, Fundació Joan Miró, British Council, 2010, pp. 80, 91, 203, not numbered, illustrated.
Exhibited
London, Camden Arts Centre, From Life: English Art and the Model Today, January 1968, no. 33 (unfinished state).
London, Arts Council, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Euan Uglow, April - May 1974, no. 55: this exhibition travelled to Truro, Royal Institution of Cornwall, June; Middlesbrough, Teesside Art Gallery, July - August; Manchester, Peterloo Gallery, September; and Brighton, Gardner Centre for the Arts, University of Sussex, October 1974.
London, Arts Council, Hayward Gallery, Hayward Annual, July - August 1979, no. 168.
Yale Center for British Art, Eight Figurative Painters: Michael Andrews, Frank Auerbach, Francis Bacon, William Coldstream, Lucian Freud, Patrick George, Leon Kossoff, Euan Uglow, October 1981 - January 1982, no. 62.
London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Euan Uglow's Nudes, July - September 1989, no. 6.
Kendal, Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Euan Uglow, Controlled Passion: Fifty Years of Painting, July - October 2003, no. 10.
Barcelona, Fundació Joan Miró, British Council, Let us face the future: art britànic 1945-1968, November 2010 - February 2011, not numbered.
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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Anne Haasjes
Anne Haasjes

Lot Essay

Euan Uglow’s Three in One is one of the artist’s masterpieces, a culmination of his experiments with composition and a brilliant expression of his fundamental aims as an artist. With an enigmatic resonance, a nude figure lies stretched out, her back to the viewer, under an electric heater in a non-descript interior. The painting exemplifies Uglow’s lifelong admiration for, and depiction of the female nude; it is at once geometric and sensuous, ethereal, yet everyday.

Immediately striking is the seemingly anomalous placement of the electric heater which extends from the wall of the otherwise empty interior over the horizontal figure. The contrast between the organic shape of the sentient nude, and the mechanical form of the heater enthralled Uglow; he described painting this nude figure as, 'like trying to paint a moving snake all the time: one’s got to try to look at its tail at the same time as its tongue – that’s the important thing about painting anything which is alive.' (Euan Uglow, quoted in 1989 in M. Golding, exhibition catalogue, Euan Uglow, London, 1989, p. 23). Uglow was notorious for his intensive, almost obsessive working process. He would spend hundreds of hours with the model present before deeming a work complete; he once joked that he had a model who was engaged, married and subsequently divorced over the duration of his painting her. His rigorous scrutiny meant that his models had to pose again and again over a long period of time, a commitment that was often impossible to maintain. The model in Three in One is in fact a composite of three different models; the artist recalled, 'In the end I managed to get Eve, one of the best models I ever had. She was the head.' (Euan Uglow, quoted in C. Lampert, Euan Uglow, The Complete Paintings, New Haven and London, 2007, p.100).

Uglow studied at the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, London from 1947 until 1950. Here he was taught by some of the leading artists of the time including Victor Pasmore, Lawrence Gowing, Claude Rogers and William Coldstream. Coldstream particularly advocated the use of measurement and a geometric structure in painting, and when he moved to teach at the Slade School of Fine Art in 1950, Uglow pursued his studies there as a postgraduate until 1954. Throughout the 1950s at both the Slade and after, Uglow met a wide variety of artists including Alberto Giacometti and his brother Diego, as well as a number of British post-war artists, including Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Frank Auerbach and Leon Kossoff, with whom he was a close friend.

This was a period of great experimentation for these School of London artists, many of whom pursued a reinvention of figurative art, seeking new modes of pictorial representation. Uglow, Bacon, Freud and Auerbach depicted the nude using a variety of different methods and styles; for example Auberbach’s thickly impastoed, loose compositions, which contrast with Uglow’s carefully structured, meticulously composed paintings.

What unites Uglow and his contemporaries’ treatment of the nude in painting was the intense scrutiny under which they placed the subject of the nude. Uglow painted directly from life, though depicted his models using a detailed measuring system, so creating images that have a powerfully restrained simplicity. Nude from Twelve Regular Vertical Positions from the Eye (1967, University of Liverpool Art Gallery and Collections) is paradigmatic of the taut sense of structure and rigorous discipline that is visible in much of Uglow’s oeuvre. The model stood in front of a wall that was divided up into equal sections. Uglow then systematically painted each section. He noted in an interview with Martin Golding that, 'For fifteen or twenty years I’ve always used proper shapes. I try to make the rectangle as proper a part of the painting as drawing an eyelash.' (Euan Uglow quoted in 1989, in op. cit., p. 21).

For Uglow, the implementation of a geometric system to create an ordered proportion and a visual harmony was validated through its origins in early Renaissance art. Described as a 'connoisseur of Renaissance art' (C. Lampert, ‘Uglow in his earthly observatory’ in op. cit., xlix), Uglow made the first of many visits to Italy in 1953 where he was able to admire the work of Masaccio and Piero della Francesca, among others. The carefully implemented geometrical system and flattened areas of colour that can be seen in these quattrocento artists’ work are akin to the balanced composition and dark green and vibrant blue areas of bright, unmodulated colour that define the interior of Three in One.

One of Uglow’s greatest supporters, Lawrence Gowing similarly likened his work to the early Renaissance masters, he wrote, “the structure has an Italian grandeur”. (L. Gowing, exhibition catalogue, Eight figurative painters: Michael Andrews, Frank Auerbach, Francis Bacon, William Coldstream, Lucian Freud, Patrick George, Leon Kossoff, Euan Uglow, New Haven, 1981, p. 21).

The background of this work was taken from an earlier painting, Nude with Green Background (1964-65, private collection), “those circles seemed to help me to hold that surface, you know it is just plain green, and to give it a bit more identity so I had to repeat each circle. That white mark is where earlier on I had another arm there.” (Lampert, op. cit. p. 100).

The large circles serve to heighten the artificiality of the scene; colour becomes independent from the narrative creating an ambiguous 'precariousness' about the painting; 'a threatened state of imbalance and dislocation' (M. Murphy, exhibition catalogue, ‘Introduction’ in Euan Uglow, London, 1974, n. p.). Although the subject of Three in One is seemingly realistic, a nude in an interior, the unnaturalness of the pose and setting creates a disquieting, enigmatic atmosphere: 'She is unmistakably what she seems to be and what we know; but she is nevertheless at a remove from our normally casual habits of attention; she is Other, a ‘thing apart’. (M. Golding, op. cit., p. 9.).


Three in One was the highlight of the one-man exhibition Euan Uglow held in 1974 at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London. Structure and sensuality merge in this work, its simplicity and stillness creating a visually compelling image that abounds with enigma and mystery. Uglow once said, 'Art is artifice…it’s nothing to do with being true to life. You’re trying to construct a new world so that it can stand: nothing to do with illusionism, I can’t bear the idea.' (Euan Uglow to M. Gayford, in Kendall, op. cit., xxxviii). Three in One is a quintessential example of these essential artistic ideas and aims, a perfect and complete example of Uglow’s unique working method, and his distinctive position within British post-war painting.


'Three in One marks a thrilling turning point in Uglow’s work – with this painting the artist begins to devise and encourage poses that bring a remarkable torque to the body, such that each part is defined by clear planes made up of discrete strokes. The walls and platform of his ‘earthly observatory’ glow with the fresco-like Reckitt’s blue, a bleach powder used by housewives, mixed into the plaster and the deep green behind. Moving away from classic life painting, Uglow starts to pursue the singular ideas that initiate each work and depend on a special rapport with the individual models. This is a painting that is mesmerising; an extraordinary work by an artist whose international reputation is just taking off'.
Catherine Lampert, 2014.

We are very grateful to Catherine Lampert for her assistance in preparing this catalogue entry.
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