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These lots have been imported from outside the EU … Read more PROPERTY FROM A SWISS PRIVATE COLLECTION

Irregular Yellow-Orange Area with a Drawn Ellipse

Irregular Yellow-Orange Area with a Drawn Ellipse
signed, titled and dated 'R. Mangold 1987 IRREGULAR YELLOW ORANGE AREA WITH A DRAWN ELLIPSE' (on the reverse)
acrylic and graphite on canvas
86 x 64 3/8in. (218.5 x 163.5cm.)
Executed in 1987
Galerie Konrad Fischer, Dusseldorf.
Acquired from the above by the Crex Collection in 1987.
Thence by descent to the present owner.
ARTIS 6, 1993, p. 6.
K. Fischer, Ausstellungen bei Konrad Fischer: Du¨sseldorf, Oktober 1967-Oktober 1992, Bielefeld 1993 (illustrated, p. 257).
Robert Mangold: Gemälde und Zeichnungen 1984-1997/ Paintings and Drawings 1984-1997, exh. cat., Wiesbaden, Museum Wiesbaden, 1998, no. 643 (illustrated in colour, p. 188).
R. Mangold, A. Danto and S. Mangold, Robert Mangold, London 2000 (illustrated in colour with incorrect measurements, p. 241).
Dusseldorf, Galerie Konrad Fischer, Robert Mangold, 1987.
Schaffhausen, Hallen für Neue Kunst, Robert Mangold: Paintings 1964-1987, 1987, no. 29 (diagram illustrated, p. 42).
The Hague, Rijksdienst Beeldende Kunst, L'Exposition Imaginaire: The art of exhibiting in the eighties, 1989 (installation view illustrated, p. 216).
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Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord

Lot Essay

Property from a Swiss Private Collection

Christie’s is delighted to present works by Georg Baselitz, Robert Mangold, Markus Lüpertz and Eduardo Arroyo from a Swiss private collection. Spread across the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening and Day auctions, the selection boasts exceptional provenance: each work was formerly part of the prestigious Crex Collection, whose pioneering embrace of the European and American avant-garde from the 1960s onwards transformed public appreciation of contemporary art in Switzerland and beyond. Prominently exhibited since their creation, the works exemplify the collection’s international outlook, rigorous eye for quality and fearless engagement with the art of its time.

The selection captures the twin poles of painterly exploration during the 1970s and 1980s: from Minimalism in America to the revival of expressive, figurative modes in Europe. Mangold’s Irregular Yellow-Orange Area with a Drawn Ellipse (1987) and Violet Tilted Ellipse/ Gray-Ochre Frame (1989) showcase his ground-breaking studies of the relationship between form, colour, line and surface. Baselitz’s Weiblicher Akt liegend (1977), by contrast, grapples with the tradition of the reclining female nude, inverting and sublimating the subject’s form through rich, gestural brushwork. Lüpertz’s Arrangement für eine tze I dithyrambisch (1973) and Arroyo’s Peintres Aveugles (1975), meanwhile, use politically-charged imagery that navigates between figurative and abstract registers.

Historically, Minimalism and Neo-Expressionism were at odds with one another: the former had declared figurative painting dead, while the latter sought to breathe new life into its traditions. The present selection, however, demonstrates a vivid conversation between the two modes. Artists such as Baselitz and Lüpertz were interested in how we create and receive meaning from images, probing the relationship between form and content. While Mangold rejected figurative subjects, his practice was similarly concerned with the primal interaction between basic visual elements, asking how they conspire to produce something we recognise as pictorial space. Such dialogues bear witness to the collection’s sharp curatorial instinct: seen together, the works posit art-making as an act of research and communication, capable of challenging the ways in which we process the world around us.

Robert Mangold, Irregular Yellow-Orange Area with a Drawn Ellipse, 1987

Formerly part of the Crex Collection, the present work is a radiant example of Robert Mangold’s mesmerising Irregular Areas. Daubed with streaks of warm yellow and punctuated with flashes of bare canvas, it consists of an uneven four-sided plane inscribed with a hand-drawn ellipse. Stretching over two metres in height, the work is one of twenty-five such paintings, examples of which are held in the Museo Nacional d’Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington D. C. Each individually coloured and shaped, they marked a new chapter in Mangold’s groundbreaking studies of pictorial space. By nesting geometric forms with larger shaped surfaces – a method initiated in 1971 – the artist sought to celebrate the canvas both as a zone of illusion, and as an independent object in its own right. Countering early Minimalism’s outright rejection of the picture plane, he undertook a rigorous investigation of two-dimensional space, interrogating the interaction between form, colour, line and surface in their most basic states. Unlike the ‘Specific Objects’ espoused by Donald Judd, the present work is a glowing monument to indeterminacy, quivering with raw, sublime power.

Following on from his early works, which explored various combinations of squares, circles and triangles, the 1980s saw Mangold broaden his enquiries, employing an increasingly complex array of colours, geometric formations and painterly textures. In the present work, sharp-edged abstraction is held in tension with tactile traces of the artist’s hand, blurring the boundaries between painting, drawing and sculpture. Though typically associated with Minimalist artists such as Robert Ryman and Frank Stella, Mangold arguably shared more in common with his Abstract Expressionist forefathers, whose achievements ultimately inspired his practice. ‘The Abstract Expressionists of the ‘50s made me want to be an artist’, he explained. ‘The works of de Kooning, Gottlieb, Rothko, Newman and Still were all important to me for various reasons, but the strongest influence was Barnett Newman’s work. It presented to me a kind of serious monumentality, mental expansiveness and emotional tenseness that was to be a model for me of what great art should be’ (R. Mangold, quoted in Robert Mangold: Paintings and Drawings 1984-1997, exh. cat., Museum Wiesbaden, 1998, p. 148).

Unlike many of his generation, who turned away from the canvas as a support for art-making altogether, Mangold relished its planar qualities. Rather than conceiving it as a window on to the world, he strove to understand the painted surface as a wall, taking cave painting and Renaissance frescoes as his conceptual models. By conceiving his works as near-architectural constructs, Mangold was able to isolate and magnify the essential mechanics of picture-making: how line, colour, form and texture interacted to demarcate both real and illusory space. In this sense, he rejected the term ‘geometric abstraction’ for his works: for him, paintings such as the present were wholly bound up with the act of representation, digging deep into the perceptual tensions that – since mankind’s earliest artistic endeavours – have defined how we image the world around us.

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