MIRIAM CAHN (B. 1949)
MIRIAM CAHN (B. 1949)
MIRIAM CAHN (B. 1949)
MIRIAM CAHN (B. 1949)
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This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … Read more
MIRIAM CAHN (B. 1949)

herumstehen, 9. + 29.1. + 13.4.17 (standing around, 9. + 29.1. + 13.4.17)

Details
MIRIAM CAHN (B. 1949)
herumstehen, 9. + 29.1. + 13.4.17 (standing around, 9. + 29.1. + 13.4.17)
signed with the artist’s initial, titled, inscribed and dated ‘herumstehen M 9. + 29.1 + 3.4.17 4335’ (on the reverse)
oil on wood
67 3/4 x 31 1/8in. (172 x 86.7cm.)
Executed in 2017
Provenance
Galerie Jocelyn Wolff, Paris.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
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.

Brought to you by

Claudia Schürch
Claudia Schürch Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Executed in 2017, the year that Miriam Cahn featured at documenta 14, herumstehen, 9. + 29.1. + 13.4.17 is a dazzling large-scale example of her standing nude figures. Against a blazing green and red backdrop, which blurs upwards into a purple horizon, her naked subject glows brightly. Deep crimson punctuates the face, lips and limbs, and frames the body’s entire perimeter like a halo. Light emanates as if from within, illuminating the figure’s pale flesh. Recently the subject of a major retrospective at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, following her exhibition at last year’s Venice Biennale, Cahn came to prominence amid the throes of second-wave feminism during the 1970s, and remains one of Switzerland’s most important living artists. The present work vividly captures her ongoing fascination with sexuality and the female body, its subject a complex vision of empowerment and vulnerability.

Cahn was born in Basel in 1949, to Jewish parents who had fled Nazi Germany. She loved art as a child, and studied at the Allgemeine Gewerbeschule in Basel during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Cahn was deeply inspired by the performance art of the time, and its focus on the female body: ‘it was something else, something totally new, and there were a lot of women in those movements’, she recalls (M. Cahn, quoted in conversation with O. Zahm, Purple Magazine, Issue 35, Spring/Summer 2021). Imbibing the activist spirit of this period, Cahn became involved in a number of feminist and anti-nuclear movements, famously painting murals on the construction site of a highway bridge in Basel. She made her solo debut at the Kunsthalle Basel in 1983, and represented Switzerland at the Venice Biennale the following year. Today she is celebrated for her wide-ranging practice that includes painting, drawing, photography and writing: within the last five years she has mounted major exhibitions at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid and the Haus der Kunst, Munich, as well as receiving the prestigious Rubenspreis der Stadt Siegen in 2021.

Cahn began to work in colour in 1994, partly inspired by Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1964 film Il deserto rosso (Red Desert). This shift would have a profound impact upon her depictions of the human body: her figures emit an almost hyper-real glow, their forms encircled by electric rays of coloured light. Drawing on the influence of artists ranging from Edvard Munch to Philip Guston and Maria Lassnig, Cahn’s subjects are enigmatic and often ambiguous. Many have deliberately androgynous features, reflecting a deep awareness of gender fluidity. Others have amputated or disfigured limbs, addressing themes of global conflict, exile and refuge. Here, in a pose that recurs throughout Cahn’s oeuvre, the figure seems to cover her genitals in shame or fear. At the same time, her form quivers with a sense of totemic power, every inch of her flesh alive with raw, carnal sensation. The work’s title herumstehen (‘standing around’), used on multiple occasions, attests to this reading: the figure stands tall, asserting her own presence and proudly taking up space. It is a thrilling confluence of the themes and ideas that continue to animate Cahn’s practice in the twenty-first century.

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