KEN PRICE (1935-2012)
KEN PRICE (1935-2012)
KEN PRICE (1935-2012)
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KEN PRICE (1935-2012)
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KEN PRICE (1935-2012)

M. Green

Details
KEN PRICE (1935-2012)
M. Green
painted ceramic, auto lacquer and wood
sculpture: 10 x 13 1/2 x 11 in. (25.4 x 34.3 x 27.9 cm.)
base: 1 5/8 x 18 1/2 x 11 1/8 in. (4.1 x 47 x 28.3 cm.)
overall: 11 5/8 x 18 1/2 x 11 1/8 in. (29.5 x 47 x 28.3 cm.)
Executed in 1961.
Provenance
Dr. Leonard and Betty Asher, Los Angeles
C&M Arts, New York
Acquired from the above by the late owner, 2005
Exhibited
Los Angeles, Ferus Gallery, Ken Price, 1961.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Robert Irwin / Kenneth Price, July-September 1966, n.p., no. 4 (illustrated).
Los Angeles County Museum of Art and San Antonio Museum of Art, Seventeen Artists in the Sixties, July 1981-January 1982, pp. 92 and 94, no. 94 (illustrated).
Special notice
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.

Brought to you by

Vanessa Fusco
Vanessa Fusco Head of Department, Impressionist & Modern Art, New York

Lot Essay

Ken Price’s M. Green is a very early example of the artist’s now iconic ovate form in which he interrogates two of sculpture’s most familiar elements, that of form and surface. For millennia artisans have sought to emulate the physical properties of their subjects, be that the soft touch of human flesh, or the rich texture of the other materials they reproduced. But in 1961, Price sought to disrupt that tradition by focusing on the pure, rather the applied, qualities of these properties. The result is works that are part-Pop Art, part Surrealist and part-Conceptual Art, of which the present work is one of the earliest incarnations. Exhibited in the artist’s debut exhibition of his ‘egg’ forms, at the legendary Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles in 1961, and once owned by the legendary Betty Asher, this is not only an important work from the artist’s oeuvre, but also plays a pivotal role in the narrative of two of the period’s most influential art movements.

Price’s organic form is distinguished by its lustrous surface, interrupted only by a band of darker color that hugs its way around three-quarters of the circumference. This band in turn is punctuated by three holes, each containing a ‘peg’ which protrudes out through the opening. Eschewing any hint of irony, insincerity, or winking art-historical nodding, M. Green is radical in its impeccable craftsmanship and sincerity. Price, who emerged in the era of California Finish Fetish artists, has always been concerned with texture and surface but, unlike those artists, creates decidedly organic forms derived from the natural—as opposed to the industrial—world.

With its emerald green and verdant hues, the sculpture further connects itself to the natural world. These natural colors bolster its organic look, suggesting an organism in some sort of transitional phase. The sculpture’s protrusions seem to emerge from the central core as if part of some natural process. Its solid form gives it a natural and believable sense of mass that, in its solidity, casts off age-old notions of clay and the functional role of ceramics more broadly.

Dispensing with tradition, Price solidifies a typically fragile medium. Solid and stable, the present work delights in its own dismissal of artistic norms. Neither functional, monumental, representational nor entirely abstract, this particular example, and Ken Price’s sculpture more broadly, thrives in its irreverent uniqueness. Existing in a perpetually mercurial zone, his sculpture occupies an art-historical grey zone. Never solidly pinned to one group or movement, Price’s ageless body of work spans a period known for breakneck changes in taste, gliding over them like a surfer on a wave. M. Green reflects Price’s remarkable self-assuredness and, in this early sculpture, lays the ground for a storied five-decade career in art.

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