ETEL ADNAN (1925-2021)
ETEL ADNAN (1925-2021)
ETEL ADNAN (1925-2021)
ETEL ADNAN (1925-2021)
3 More
This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … Read more
ETEL ADNAN (1925-2021)

Untitled

Details
ETEL ADNAN (1925-2021)
Untitled
signed and dated 'Adnan 19' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
16 1/4 x 13 1/4in. (41.3 x 33.5cm.)
Painted in 2019
Provenance
Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Exhibited
Beirut, Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Etel Adnan: The uprising of colors, 2020 (installation view illustrated in colour, unpaged).
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

Painted in 2019, two years before Etel Adnan’s death, the present work glows with the radiant light and colour that defined her life’s work. A shimmering, silvery expanse hovers above a dazzling blue horizon line, as piercing and brilliant as a sunlit ocean. In the foreground, planes of pink, peach and orange jostle together, glistening with warmth. Born in Lebanon, but based for much of her life in California, Adnan cultivated a painterly practice grounded in deep sensitivity to the natural world. Finely attuned to the subtleties of tone, texture, rhythm and geometry, she pieced together her compositions like music or poetry. The final years of Adnan’s life were defined by rapturous critical acclaim, culminating in a major retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York in 2021. In 2020 the present work was included in her extraordinary exhibition The uprising of colors at Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut, conceived as a gesture of artistic resilience during a time of crisis in Lebanon.

Adnan was born in Beirut in 1925. As a child she was fascinated by poetry, and absorbed the works of Charles Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud. She received a scholarship to read philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris, subsequently moving to America to continue her studies. It was while living and lecturing in the San Francisco bay area between 1958 and 1972 that she began to paint, cultivating a distinctive abstract language defined by interlocking zones of vibrant colour. Over the years her practice would expand to include drawing, film, ceramics and tapestry; poetry and prose, frequently addressing themes of global conflict, would also play key roles. For many years, Adnan worked quietly in her luminous corner of the world before her inclusion in documenta 13 in 2012 brought her to worldwide acclaim. Her major posthumous exhibition Etel Adnan. Poetry of Colors is currently on view at the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf.

From 1979 onwards Adnan based herself in Sausalito, making regular trips to Lebanon, Morocco, Jordan, Syria and Tunisia. Though influenced by Arabic art, calligraphy and poetry, she felt a deep painterly connection to the West Coast. ‘The colours I use, the brightness—they are the colours of California’, she enthused (E. Adnan, quoted in G. Coxhead, ‘California Dreaming’, Apollo, June 2018, n.p.). Mount Tamalpais became one of her greatest sources of inspiration: the present work, indeed, seems to contain an elusive hint of its rocky stature in the foreground. Working with a palette knife, Adnan constructed her paintings like mosaics, deeply aware of the changing vibrations between different hues. Here, the forms relate to one another like words in a sentence, or notes in a melody, governed by a lyrical sense of grammar, pulse and intonation.

More from 20th/21st Century: London Evening Sale

View All
View All