Eileen Agar, R.A. (1899-1991)
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Eileen Agar, R.A. (1899-1991)

Animal

Details
Eileen Agar, R.A. (1899-1991)
Animal
signed 'AGAR' (lower right), signed again and dated 'AGAR/1967' (on the backboard)
acrylic on canvas
9 ¾ x 13 ¾ in. (24.7 x 35 cm.)
Painted in 1967.
Provenance
Anonymous sale; Christie's, South Kensington, 11 March 2004, lot 234, where purchased by the present owner.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Alice Murray
Alice Murray

Lot Essay

Captivated by the mysteries and complexities of nature, Eileen Agar’s immersive drawings, paintings and collages established her as one of the most diverse female figures of British Surrealism. Spending time in Cubist and Surrealist Art circles and forming friendships with artists such as Pablo Picasso and Fantisek Foltýn in the 1930s and '40s, Agar fluidly evolved her practice, combining themes of ambiguity and organic form throughout her oeuvre. The present work echoes elements of Agar’s early silhouetted collages, where figures are married with found items and abstracted shapes in an open state of metamorphosis.

Agar’s introduction to acrylic paint in 1965, opened new means to overlap elements and combine her ideas. Animal’s bold anthropomorphic shape ‘cut-out’ in profile dominates the canvas edge, encompassing a mysterious marbled pattern within. This loose application of paint reflecting the automatism-technique featured frequently in Agar’s '60s paintings, where ‘product of chance’ added an additional layer of interest and complexity. With further Surrealist influences of psychology and notions of the ‘unconscious’, Agar here is seen to invite one inside this figure’s mind to explore the Rorschach-esque shapes within its negative space. The work forms part of Agar’s ‘paradoxical paintings with no main ‘theme’ but from which the spectator, once drawn into them, may extract his own images’ (M. Remy, Eileen Agar: Dreaming oneself awake, London, 2017, p. 166).

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