This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … Read more


signed with the artist's initials and dated 'DL 16' (on the overlap)
oil on linen
60 x 50 1/4in. (152.5 x 127.5cm.)
Painted in 2016
1969 Gallery, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2017.
New York, 1969 Gallery, Doron Langberg and Elizabeth Glaessner, 2017.
Special notice
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Lot Essay

Painted in 2016, Elika is a poetic example of Doron Langberg’s ability to capture the psyche of a domestic scene. Rendered in a luminous palette of deep maroon, bearing hues of rich teal and marigold, the work depicts the artist’s older sister Elika sat alone in an armchair, gazing pensively onto the floor beneath her. Combining areas of intricate, densely impastoed detail with loose washes of colour, this painting is one of dissolving boundaries, in which the sitter both emerges from and recedes into her interior setting. Based on a drawing from life, Elika highlights Langberg’s ability to create an intimate portrait from the most mundane environment, a technique he achieves through the inclusion of richly realised inanimate objects: in this case the jumper she wears, the armchair she sits on, and the tactile, almost sculpturally textured polychrome rug before her. The closely cropped composition lends the work an immersive quality, highlighting Langberg’s attention to the character of his subject, and fulfilling his quest to reveal the sense of the living person in front of him. ‘The spaces should feel like emotional spaces’, Langberg has said. ‘Obviously they exist as inhabitable spaces—I want the viewer to feel that it’s a real space that they could enter into—but also something that’s more of a continuation of the figure’s interior life’ (D. Langberg, quoted in T. Malone, ‘Doron Langberg and the New Queer Intimism’, Jewish Currents, 9 December 2019).

Alongside the likes of Louis Fratino, Salman Toor and Kyle Coniglio, Langberg is one of a number of queer contemporary artists reinventing Intimism, a movement which originated in mid- to late-nineteenth century Impressionism. Intimism’s fascination with the domestic has provided an expressive outlet to explore the intimate queer worlds these artists inhabit. Inspired by their tendency to depict close friends, family and lovers in interior settings, a technique he found most prominent in the canvases of Édouard Vuillard, Langberg has dedicated his practice to exploring the relationship between people and the places they inhabit. As in canvases like Vuillard’s Interior, Mother and Sister of the Artist (1893), Langberg’s figures have a tendency to get lost within the richly patterned decor which surrounds them. Langberg remarks that in Vuillard’s work, ‘each brushstroke constructs the image but also deteriorates it—keeping it from becoming fully coherent’ (D. Langberg, quoted in ibid.). With paintwork by turns tangible and evanescent, Elika—like its nineteenth-century precursors—captures an intimate understanding between painter and subject, his sitter’s physical setting evoking a complex emotional interior.

After receiving his MFA from Yale University School of Art, Langberg has participated in many significant exhibitions both nationally and internationally, most recently in the major group exhibitions A Place for Me: Figurative Painting Now at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston and Fire Figure Fantasy: Selections from ICA Miami’s Collection at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. An exhibition featuring recent new works by the artist is currently on display at the Rubell Museum, Miami, which will remain on view through to 12 November 2023. His work is also held in the collections of many leading institutions, including the Baltimore Museum of Art, the High Museum of Art, Atlanta and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia.

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