Executed over a three-year period of unprecedented success for Howard Hodgkin during which he represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 1984 and was awarded the Turner Prize in 1985, In the Green Room is one of the largest paintings made by the artist in the first 35 years of his career.
Rendered in a vibrant palette of forest green and royal blue, overlaid by a dappled pattern of brilliant, sunset orange brush marks, In the Green Room is a stunning, large scale example of Howard Hodgkin’s commitment to painting, and its emotive potential. Referring to the pistachio green paint with which he decorated the walls of his partner Antony Peattie’s sitting room in Cornwall shortly after they first met, this work evokes the personal and professional happiness Hodgkin enjoyed at this time.
With its dynamic mark making and invigorating colour scheme, In the Green Room also reflects the artist’s vivacity and self-assurance at this most stimulating moment in his life.
For Race Riots and Salon Gatherings is an iconic example of Theaster Gates’ groundbreaking, politically-engaged practice. In a series of wooden frames, made from old mouldings, mantle pieces and floor boards, various lengths of decommissioned fire hoses are coiled, folded and stacked behind panes of glass. Haunting vestiges of America’s past, they reference the hoses used to violently disband peaceful Civil Rights demonstrators in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963.
Over the last five years Gates has risen to wide international acclaim, with major solo exhibitions at the Milwaukee Art Museum, 2010, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 2013. His exhibition at the 2010 Whitney Biennial, under the direction of Francesco Bonami, was followed by an invitation to documenta (13) in Kassel, Germany, curated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev.
Gates’ response to the events of the 1960s were celebrated in the solo exhibition An Epitaph for Civil Rights at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, where the present work was shown in the year of its creation.
Extending over two and a half metres in length, Michelangelo Pistoletto’s Donna nuda che avvita una lampadina (Nude woman affixing a light bulb) (1968) is an important early mirror painting depicting the nude figure of Maria Pioppi, his life-long artistic collaborator and companion. Standing alone against a vast, empty reflective field, she reaches upwards to affix a light bulb.
In this painting, Maria’s back is turned to the viewer while she faces inwards into the reflective space of the painting. The idea was that the viewer would then catch sight of their own reflected image standing in the space of the mirror painting and caught in the act of looking at this provocative nude.
‘The mirror paintings could not live without an audience,’ Pistoletto said, not long after this work was made. ‘They were created and re-created according to the movement and to the interventions they reproduced. The step from the mirror paintings to theatre — everything is theatre — seems simply natural... It is less a matter of involving the audience, of letting it participate, as to act on its freedom and on its imagination, to trigger similar liberation mechanisms in people.’ (M. Pistoletto, interview with G. Boursier, in Sipario, Milan, April 1969).