Ellen Gallagher (b. 1965)
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Ellen Gallagher (b. 1965)


Ellen Gallagher (b. 1965)
signed and dated twice 'Ellen Gallagher 2006' (on the overlap)
oil, ink, graphite, paper and printed paper collage on linen mounted on board
24 x 24 1/8in. (61 x 61.3cm.)
Executed in 2006
Hauser & Wirth, Zurich.
Thomas Dane Gallery, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2006.
London, Thomas Dane Gallery, Very Abstract and Hyper Figurative, 2007 (illustrated p. 11, 30).
Liverpool, Tate Liverpool, Ellen Gallagher: Coral Cities, 2007-2008 (illustrated in colour, p. 85, details illustrated in colour, pp. 31-38). This exhibition later travelled to Dublin, Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane.
London, South London Gallery, Ellen Gallagher: An Experiment of Unusual Opportunity - Everyone's Got a Little Light Under the Door, 2009.
New York, Gagosian Gallery, Ellen Gallagher: Greasy, 2011.
London, Tate Modern, Ellen Gallagher: AxME, 2013-2014, p. 210, no. 74 (illustrated in colour, p. 159, details illustrated in colour, pp. 162-163). This exhibition later travelled to Tampere, Sara Hildén Art Museum and Munich, Haus der Kunst.
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Alexandra Werner
Alexandra Werner

Lot Essay

Ellen Gallagher’s Untitled, 2006, meticulously weaves together myth and history to shed light on a metamorphosis. This painting has been exhibited in Gallagher’s widely commended exhibitions at such institutions as Tate Liverpool and Tate Modern and most recently, in her solo presentation Ellen Gallagher: An Experiment Of Unusual Opportunity – Everyone’s Got A Little Light Under the Door, 2013, at the South London Gallery. Against a background of traced and dotted horizontal markers, a tangle of tentacles trail. Faceless eyes and droopy, inky black tentacles appear from the gloom; while shapeless monsters, their lips inscribed with anonymized newspaper text float in senseless formations. Like unreadable text spilling over schoolbook pages, art historian Richard Shiff describes Gallagher’s work as replete with ‘cultural ciphers about to penetrate an uncertain future’ (R. Shiff, ‘Signs Preserve Us’, Ellen Gallagher: AxME, exh. cat., Tate Modern, London, 2013, p. 198).
Gallagher takes the myth of Black Atlantis as her inspiration for her underwater universe: at the bottom of the ocean, marine people dwell and thrive, the descendants of the enslaved Africans who drowned at sea during the Middle Passage crossing. Curator Karen Alexander describes: ‘Equipped with the sensibilities of both deep-sea diver and beachcomber, Gallagher has set out on a genealogical mission of salvage and recovery. The past she circumnavigates en route to retelling is timeless and has no boundaries’ (K. Alexander, ‘A Challenge to History: Ellen Gallagher’s Coral Cities’, Coral Cities: Ellen Gallagher, exh. cat., Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, 2007, pp. 75-76). Fascinated by the secrets and histories hidden in the expanse of the ocean, Gallagher studied oceanography, spending hours sketching the miniscule creatures populating the sea. Drawing on this experience and Black history, Untitled presents a captivating and dynamic archipelago of ink and paper.

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