At the heart of the grouping is an examination of art’s capacity to mirror, duplicate, refract and reflect the ever-changing nature of contemporary life. From the legacy of Italian Arte Povera, to the heyday of the Pictures Generation, the works offered for auction prompt us to question the reciprocal relationship between human experience and the means through which we attempt to represent it.
Poetic, sometimes melancholic, and frequently humorous, these works are the products of a generation that, in a rapidly developing globalized world, was truly beginning to question the nature of image-making. It was a generation whose interrogations and musings would later be identified as the birth of post-modern art.
Presented as a stand-alone single owner auction within First Open/LDN in September, with additional lots spread across The Italian Sale and Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening, Day and Amsterdam auctions throughout October and November, Double Vision explores the consolidation of one of art history’s most enduring themes: the mimetic relationship between art and life.
Giulio Paolini, Mimesi, 1975. Plaster, in two parts each: 15 1/4 x 6 7/8 x 9 5/8 in. (38.7 x 17.5 x 24.5 cm.). From an edition of twenty. Estimate: £25,000-35,000. This work is offered in the First Open/LDN sale on 23 September at Christie’s South Kensington
Nowhere is the collection’s central motif more eloquently embodied than in Giulio Paolini’s Mimesi, an elegant, doubled simulacrum of the Venus de’Medici who, for the first time in centuries, is brought face to face with her own likeness. As the twin pairs of eyes study each other intently, art looks upon art, gazing inwards at its own replicated substance.
Cindy Sherman, Untitled #121, 1983. Cibachrome. Image: 34 3/4 x 21 1/4 in. (88.3 x 54 cm.), sheet: 38 7/8 x 27 1/8 in. (98.8 x 68.9 cm.). Number seven from an edition of eighteen. Estimate: £25,000-35,000. This work is offered in the First Open/LDN sale on 23 September at Christie’s South Kensington
Across the Atlantic, this very concept gave rise to a new breed of appropriation artists, who turned art in on itself by consciously disrupting traditional notions of authorship. In Cindy Sherman’s fashion photographs, the artist positioned herself as her own muse, blurring the boundary between subject and object.
John Baldessari, Christmas, 1986. Acrylic on two black and white photographs. Overall: 37 x 20 1/4 in. (94 x 51.5 cm.) Estimate: £60,000-80,000. This work is offered in the First Open/LDN sale on 23 September at Christie’s South Kensington
Others, such as John Baldessari and Richard Prince, rebranded readymade images in new aesthetic contexts: where Sherman’s renowned film stills cast herself as leading lady, Prince looked to the iconic movies of Angie Dickinson and Misty Regan, embellishing their frozen images with his own textual commentary.
Fischli/Weiss, Wall, 1986. Cast rubber. 15 3/8 x 36 x 13 7/8 in. (39 x 91.5 x 35.3 cm.). From an edition of six. Estimate: £50,000-70,000. This work is offered in the First Open/LDN sale on 23 September at Christie’s South Kensington
Back in Europe, contemporary sculpture revitalised the legacy of Marcel Duchamp and Arte Povera, elevating everyday items to the status of art. Haim Steinbach’s shelves sought to pinpoint the moment at which objects transcended their quotidian function, whilst Peter Fischli and David Weiss made rubber casts of furniture and decorative items found in their studio (see above). In Richard Long’s Splintered Marble Circle, salvaged fragments of stone become haunting material relics of the artist’s own journeys: geological signifiers for the inevitable passage of time and place.
Jenny Holzer, I Am A Man, 1987. Red and yellow LED, wiring. Overall: 112 x 9 3/8 x 5 1/4 in. (284.8 x 24 x 13.5 cm.). Number two from an edition of four. Estimate: £50,000-70,000. This work is offered in the First Open/LDN sale on 23 September at Christie’s South Kensington
Throughout the collection, the theme of doubling continues to reverberate: from the anthropomorphic circle of life illustrated in Keith Haring’s Untitled (Men and Dolphins), to the unnerving parallel universe proposed by Milan Kunc’s Menschenfabrik and the verbal symmetry of Thomas Schütte’s No trost pro prost.
It is also a theme that operates on a broader level, reflecting the dialogues, crossovers and shared aesthetic agendas that operated between Europe and America during one of art history’s most exploratory periods. In Double Vision, we are invited to observe the simultaneities, echoes and resonances that arise when art attempts to catch sight of its own fleeting reflection.
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