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Scott Reeder (B. 1970)
Cops Ascending Staircase
signed, titled and dated '"COPS ASCENDING STAIRCASE" Scott Reeder 2009' (on the overlap)
oil on canvas
50 1/8 x 34in. (127.3 x 86.5cm.)
Painted in 2009
Daniel Reich Gallery, New York.
Acquired from the above in 2009.

Lot Essay

Though working across several mediums, Scott Reeder often trades in paintings that sit somewhere between parody and homage, literate pieces that use art history to sketch sharp and funny vignettes of twenty-first century life. Here, in Cops Ascending Staircase, Reeder plays off Duchamp’s seminal cubist masterpiece Nude Descending a Staircase, replacing Duchamp’s revolutionary nude with the bodies of four police officers rushing in to raid an apartment. In the first place, Reeder’s work exploits the way in which once radical paintings have hardened into the art establishment, laughing at the disjunction between the quotidian nature of the subject matter, and the grandeur implied by its association with Duchamp. Yet the work also engages with the original painting more earnestly. Reeder’s recollection of the strange motion of Duchamp’s nude in the bodies of the police officers draws similarities between the two forms, giving the officers a rather menacing mechanical unity of body, as if, like Duchamp’s nude, they represent one organism in motion. Rendered in more forceful thicker brushstrokes, and muddier blues, reds and greys, Reeder’s cops recapitulate Duchamp’s dynamic vision of modernity, but with a sense of the dark and comic underbelly of everyday American life.

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