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Third Date

Third Date
signed, titled and dated "ST. HEINZE 2020 "THIRD DATE"' (on the reverse)
oil and acrylic on canvas
78 ¾ x 51 1⁄8 in. (200 x 130 cm.)
Painted in 2020.
Petzel Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner
J. Moran, "Stefanie Heinze Interviews Stefanie Heinze," Paper Magazine, 23 October 2020 (illustrated).
New York, Petzel Gallery, Stefanie Heinze: Frail Juice, October-November 2020.

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Kathryn Widing
Kathryn Widing Vice President, Senior Specialist, Head of 21st Century Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Painted in 2020, Third Date, the Berlin-based painter Stefanie Heinze unites abstraction and figuration in dynamic style. Exhibited at her New York debut exhibition, the present work is a twirling scene of bodies that dissolve and re-assemble themselves. Third Date, whose title references a dating milestone, is accordingly a sensual display, with blues, greens, and flesh tones uniting in a fluid dance that reaches over six feet tall. It evinces Heinze’s stance that every unique form is its own world. She observes, “Working on one painting is like working on a person; you have a new encounter with a different person each time…It is a great tool for surviving, but there’s also a pleasant aspect to it, for sure. It’s a way for me to work against oppression and outdated forms of power dynamics and I generate something that maybe isn’t just showing the obvious” (S. Heinze, quoted in D. Salek, “Stefanie Heinze,” Collection Issue, September 22, 2021). Heinze called Third Date one of her favorite paintings from her debut show, and it offers a tantalizing glimpse of what is to come for this young artist.

Critic Alina Cohen writes that “’Disney on acid’ may be the best descriptor” for Heinze’s work, in which “abstracted cartoonish forms float on backgrounds rendered in mostly bright or pastel hues” (A. Cohen, “Stefanie Heinze,” Art in America, March 1, 2018). This assessment certainly applies to Third Date, whose vividness belies a brooding, serious meditation on painting. Figures climb around the canvas, reminiscent of El Greco’s The Adoration of the Shepherds (1603–1614, Museo del Prado, Madrid.) or Paul Gauguin’s The Green Christ (1889, Royal Museums of Fine Art, Belgium). Third Date, with its careful layering of color and the interplay of abstraction and figuration, also resembles a complex tapestry, brimming with contrasting textures and imagery. Cultured Magazine observes of this intentionality, “In spite of resisting facile references, order, and linear interpretations, Heinze’s work revels in precision, which is detectable in her intentional lines and impeccable compositions,” (C. Di Leone, “Stefanie Heinze is Reordering Reality,” Cultured Magazine, December 2022). In addition to these adroit references and formal rigor, Heinze’s work is unpretentious, and it reinvigorates staid painterly conventions for our contemporary moment.

Since graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Leipzig in 2014 and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2016, Heinze has become a prominent new voice in painting. Her paintings are included in the collections of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, the Marguerite Hoffman Collection, Dallas, and the Hepworth Wakefield, Wakefield, England. Her work was also recently exhibited in the L’Almanach 23 biennial at the Consortium Museum in Dijon, France, as well as in other prestigious group shows at the Boros Foundation at Berghain, Berlin (2020), the Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2020), Saatchi Gallery, London (2018), and Mary Boone Gallery, New York (2018).

Third Date, whose floating entities evoke Surrealism, is a beautiful and uncanny canvas that shows this emerging painter at her very best. Like Salvador Dalí and Niki de Saint Phalle, Heinze has an enviable command of painterly space, which she uses to create depth and tactility. Simultaneously, Third Date has a humorous edge as it references sex and courtship, which have always been central subjects for painting. It is certainly true that “there is a rebellious quality to Heinze’s work. Her canvases, populated with flaccid penile shapes, fudgy liquids and weird anthropomorphic forms, seem to run on instinct and intuition rather than any didactic or historically-informed concern” (K. O’Regan, “Introducing the Berlin artist transforming symbolic objects into dark social critique,” Sleek Magazine, April 26, 2019).

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