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Julia Wachtel (b. 1956)
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Julia Wachtel (b. 1956)

Flat

Details
Julia Wachtel (b. 1956)
Flat
titled and dated 'flat, 2014' (on the reverse of each part); signed and dated 'Julia Wachtel 2014' (on the overlap of part five); signed 'Julia Wachtel' (on the reverse of part five)
oil, flashe and acrylic ink on canvas, in six parts
overall: 60 x 120in. (156.6 x 305cm.)
Executed in 2014
Provenance
Elizabeth Dee, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2014.
Exhibited
New York, Elizabeth Dee, Julia Wachtel: Independent, 2014.
London, Saatchi Gallery, Champagne Life, 2015, pp. 134-135 (illustrated in colour).
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Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord

Lot Essay

Julia Wachtel has been working in the appropriative mode of the Pictures Generation since the early 1980s, seizing and recontextualising found imagery from popular culture to often biting satirical effect. Her work, included in the 2016 Saatchi exhibition ‘Champagne Life’, has gained a new relevance in the post-Internet age, questioning how the critical gaze can function when constantly bombarded with imagery. The title of FLAT, a vast composition on six panels, might refer to the ‘flattening’ that this experience engenders, as we encounter a schizophrenic, fractured torrent of information presented without hierarchy on the same plane. A black-and-white montage of life-size red-carpet photos of female celebrities, including actress Naomi Harris and Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima, is overlaid with abstract panels of bright, translucent colour, bringing to mind the Pop screenprints of Andy Warhol. To the right, a cartoon character taken from a greetings card – a schematic head on legs, painted in pink – peers upwards, wearing a blindfold that echoes the dark bars hovering over the faces of the women. The photographs’ bright hues and aura of glamour become uncertain, even ominous; Wachtel creates a visual overload that foregrounds the act of looking, and the difficulty of seeing clearly.

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