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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more Image World: Property from a Private American Collection


oilstick and graphite on paper, in artist's frame
65 ¾ x 52 ¼ in. (167 x 132.7 cm.)
Executed in 2016.
C L E A R I N G, Brussels
Acquired from the above by the present owner
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. Where Christie's has provided a Minimum Price Guarantee it is at risk of making a loss, which can be significant, if the lot fails to sell. Christie's therefore sometimes chooses to share that risk with a third party. In such cases the third party agrees prior to the auction to place an irrevocable written bid on the lot. The third party is therefore committed to bidding on the lot and, even if there are no other bids, buying the lot at the level of the written bid unless there are any higher bids. In doing so, the third party takes on all or part of the risk of the lot not being sold. If the lot is not sold, the third party may incur a loss. The third party will be remunerated in exchange for accepting this risk based on a fixed fee if the third party is the successful bidder or on the final hammer price in the event that the third party is not the successful bidder. The third party may also bid for the lot above the written bid. Where it does so, and is the successful bidder, the fixed fee for taking on the guarantee risk may be netted against the final purchase price.

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Ana Maria Celis
Ana Maria Celis Head of Department

Lot Essay

"...the work of the painter is to distill elements from reality and reassemble them in a way that is somehow unique. It’s all about extracting elements of the visual field and recombining them in an often more poetic way." - Harold Ancart

Harold Ancart’s Untitled, 2018, represents a swirling amalgamation of the artist’s uncanny success in enchanting viewers with aesthetic immediacy while sustaining his exploration of contemporary painterly practice. At eye level, viewers are confronted by a swollen tsunami-sized wave, gathered at its peak height in the moment before plunging its energy back into the sea. A hood of white foam rendered in hearty layers of oilstick charges atop the crest of the wave, with the front of the break forming fang-like points. The raw, shard-like forms, paired with the heightened juxtaposition of rich colors are reminiscent of Clyfford Still’s monumental abstractions. Harold Ancart’s celebrated abstractions welcome viewers with straightforward subject matter, often featuring universally intriguing ties to the natural world such as horizon lines, fire, or in the case of Untitled, the sea. As demonstrated in Untitled, Ancart’s most successful works convert familiar sights into vistas of a sublime parallel dimension.

Ancart cites key formative experiences and interests beginning with a strong taking to comic books as a child. As a young adult, he aspired to become a diplomat, however changed plans and attended École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Visuel de la Cambre in Brussels to study fine arts. The most meaningful experience preceding the artist’s rapid rise in global attention however was a 2014 cross-country road trip, during which he frequently stopped to admire poetic fragments of everyday life, channeling the flâneur mindset. Reverberating through all of these meaningful moments and inspirations is Ancart’s appreciation of movement and exploration (whether via escapism or physical travel). Ancart adeptly investigates this priority in his artistic process, and Untitled is an mature embodiment of Ancart’s balletic ability of advancing contemporary painting. “A painting is framed by its physical limits, but at the same time, the painting expands indefinitely because it borrows somehow from everything that surrounds it” (H. Ancart in “Harold Ancart,” Purple Magazine, vol. 4, no. 33, January 2020). Indeed, the techniques employed in Untitled --such as dramatic proportions, an innovative vantage point, a vibrant palette and his zealous mark-making-- all orchestrate an exceptionally alluring picture in which its magnetic aesthetics are matched effortlessly in dialogue with conceptual investigations of painting practice itself.

In Untitled, Ancart demonstrates both comprehension and reinvigoration of his predecessors with a cogent nod to Hokusai’s iconic masterpiece, The Great Wave Off Kanagawa. The influence of Hokusai’s masterful ukiyo-e pictorial techniques, and this print in particular, cannot be overstated. Created circa 1830, Hokusai’s The Great Wave marked the pioneering use of Prussian blue pigment, among other trailblazing pictorial methods. Liberating his practice from illusionistic convention, Hokusai experimented with atypical cropping, compression of pictorial space, and formal exaggeration as a way of conjuring movement. Additionally, Hokusai notably shifted towards depicting scenes of everyday life rather than landscapes, which was considered a breakthrough at the time. Hokusai’s prowess spread to Europe, enrapturing many forefathers of Impressionism such as Degas, Monet, and Van Gogh utilizing his avant-garde methods to produce their own masterworks. Ancart’s strokes of bold color have led to frequent comparisons to Impressionism, and the artist’s hat tip to Hokusai situates Ancart’s own practice in a meaningful lineage, while advancing into a undoubtedly contemporary realm.

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