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John Chamberlain (b. 1927)
John Chamberlain (b. 1927)


John Chamberlain (b. 1927)
galvanized steel
25½ x 17 x 20½ in. (64.5 x 43 x 52 cm.)
Executed in 1967.
Leo Castelli Gallery, New York
Alan and Doris Freedman, New York Danese Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1996
J. Sylvester, John Chamberlain: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculpture 1954-1985, New York, 1986, p. 101, no. 309 (illustrated).

Lot Essay

"The galvanized-steel sculptures were made in New York City between 1967 and 1969 as the result of a decision by Chamberlain to abandon the use of colored steel. Galvanized-steel boxes were fabricated in dimensions approximately 42 x 28 x 18 in. (106.5 x 71 x 45.5 cm.), handled by Chamberlain in a compactor on White Street, and finished in his studio. These pieces are variously titled after constellations and British porcelain-toilet manufacturers" (J. Sylvester, John Chamberlain: A Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculpture 1954-1985, New York, 1986, p. 98).

Untitled, 1967 exhibits the elegant dynamism and compelling aesthetic appeal of the artist's unique process of creation. Made of galvanized steel, Untitled reveals the pleasures of surface texture, the manipulation of space, and the play between both positive solid form and the negative void. In Chamberlain's work, the artist's intervention with found industrial material determines the shape of the final product. Stripped of their original signifiers, Chamberlain's materials become raw once again as they are given a second life through sheer physical force guided by the artist's desire and will.

Commenting on his process, Chamberlain states, "There is material to be seen around you every day. But one day something - some one thing - pops out at you, and you pick it up, and you take it over, and you put it somewhere else, and it fits, it's just the right thing at the right moment I guess that's part of my definition of art."
(J. Chamberlain as quoted by D. Schwartz, Papier Paradisio, KunstMuseum Winterthur, Richter Verlag, Germany, 2005, p. 10)

Untitled presents us with a form that reveals the tension of outside forces, yet simultaneously mimics the soft undulating curves of fine fabric as depicted in classical renaissance painting The process of creation itself belies the forces at play, including the rivalry between a controlled process and the element of chance. Of his process, Chamberlain commented, "They all become the same thing; something you like to look at. And you choreograph or orchestrate the way certain numbers of these parts interact between each other as a form of social engagement, so to speak"(ibid).

Untitled, 1967 is one of only sixteen galvanized-steel sculptures recorded in the artist's catalogue raisonné. Of these sixteen three are included in the Dia Art Foundation collection. This particular work was once included in the important collection of Alan and Doris Freedman. Doris Freedman acted as New York City's first Director of Cultural Affairs, President of the Municipal Art Society and Founder of the Public Art Fund, which organizes public art exhibitions on view at the Doris C. Freedman Plaza located at the southeast entrance of Central Park in New York City.

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