1 More
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more Image World: Property from a Private American Collection

Lost Luggage

Lost Luggage
signed with the artist's initials and dated 'EM 08' (lower right); signed, titled and dated again '"LOST LUGGAGE" Martinez. 2008.' (on the reverse); signed again with the artist's initials and dated again 'EM 2008' (on the stretcher)
acrylic and oil on canvas
60 1⁄4 x 72 in. (153 x 182.9 cm.)
Painted in 2008.
ZieherSmith, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2015
M. Henry, News and Updates, San Francisco, 2009.
G. O'Brien, Eddie Martinez: Paintings, Los Angeles, 2013, p. 72 (illustrated).
Stockholm, Loyal Gallery, Eddie Martinez: New Paintings, May-July 2008, pp. 22-23 (illustrated).
Special notice
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.

Brought to you by

Julian Ehrlich
Julian Ehrlich Associate Vice President, Specialist, Head of Post-War to Present Sale

Lot Essay

“It’s sort of like a boxing ring in here – it’s a very physical process. Maybe I’m a little addicted to that. It’s a real way for me to work things out, outside of just the actual painting.”
Eddie Martinez

In Lost Luggage, Eddie Martinez’s protagonist stands confrontationally in the foreground of the composition, with a boxing glove visible on the figure’s left hand. Behind this commanding figure the canvas erupts in a raucous display of dynamically layered chaos. And yet, there is, in fact, a method to the thickly impastoed madness. The seemingly disordered composition is masterfully controlled by the signature elements that characterize the artist's most sought-after works: bold, frenetic brushwork, urgent lines, graphic forms and an adventurous color palette. Often compared to the likes of artists from Willem de Kooning and Pablo Picasso to Philip Guston and Jean-Michel Basquiat, the formal elements in Martinez’s work seem to take stylistic inspiration from myriad sources, notably (though not limited to) graffiti and Abstract Expressionism. However, with his remarkable talent and undeniable command over his vision, Martinez’s influences serve more as catalysts for the artist to explore his own intensely personal visual language, leading him to create highly unique, vivid, and daring compositions.

Lost Luggage is a densely worked, mixed media canvas exemplary of Martinez’s energetic and nontraditional practice. Packed within the four edges of this single canvas, one discerns key figurative elements that are repeated throughout the artist’s oeuvre, including the bug-eyes of the heroic main character, the central flower-laden fruit basket, and the overripe banana turned tropical bird beak in the lower right. The highly textured surface hints at some of the artist’s aforementioned influences, featuring quick flicks of spray paint à la street art and long, luxurious paint drips à la action painting, the latter of which are most apparent along the bottom edge but also interspersed throughout.

Executed in 2008, Lost Luggage also stands as an early experimentation with erasure, revisions and negative space, which have all been increasingly prominent elements in Martinez’s latest works – namely what have become known as his “White Outs.” Indeed, the artist’s “whiting out” of large swaths of the canvas allows for tension and mystery to linger on the surface. Not intended to create any illusion of a blank, unworked canvas, this gesture instead appears to openly invite the viewer to realize that the work was revised – that at least some part of this canvas’s story is no longer legible to the viewer. This is most clearly evidenced in the drip traces left partially uncovered suspended over the figure’s right shoulder, their respective starting points made invisible by thick, horizontal strokes of white paint.

Contrasting the negative space, the positive space is alight with stand-out pops of rich color that ignite the canvas. The deeper jewel-toned greens and edgy chartreuse offset the bright cyan blue and shamrock green accents, while the warmer tones of buttery yellow, ochre, and scarlet punctuate the canvas, drawing the viewer’s eye rhythmically through the scene. Yet, in spite of all this, the scene itself remains nearly impenetrable. In its semi-figurative, semi-abstract presentation, the composition all but begs to be read, but at every turn the narrative evades. What is unfolding? Like many of Martinez’s paintings, it is intentionally ambiguous, allowing the work to thrive in the space of individual and open interpretation. In the words of curator Antonio Sergio Bessa (Martinez’s collaborator on his 2018-2019 exhibition at the Bronx Museum, Eddie Martinez: White Outs), “Eddie’s very quiet. There are so many painters who love to theorize about what they do, but Eddie doesn’t do that, which I appreciate… He puts the work in and he wants you to talk about what the work is about” (A. Bessa, “Why Painter Eddie Martinez is Having His Biggest Market Year Yet,” Artsy, 6 August 2020).

More from Post-War to Present

View All
View All