From a Private West Coast Collection, a spectacular selection of painting, drawings, and sculpture speak to one collector's thoughtful collecting of contemporary art for nearly 40 years. Interested in representing generational groupings on a comprehensive level, the collection acknowledged a full spectrum of art history from the New York School to the Young British Artists, two highly influential movements that redefined their nation's artistic identity.
Just as the New York School defined the aesthetics of the 1950s, so too the YBAs came to dominate British art in the 1990s; while the Expressionists were known for their devotion to abstraction, bravura gesture and grand scale, the YBAs became renowned for their "shock tactics," throwaway materials, wild-living, and their attitudes-at once oppositional and entrepreneurial.
The early, intimate collages of Michael Goldberg and John Grillo represent the classic style of blunt, muscular brushwork which reigned supreme in the 1950s. While Goldberg's deeper colors and dense arrangement exudes the brashness and bravura of the era, Grillo's light, ethereal collage in pale yellow is more thoughtful and meditative.
Later works by pre-eminent abstract artists Al Held and Mark di Suvero demonstrate both artists expansion of the abstract idiom in the early 1960s with their hard-edged, bold shapes. di Suvero's swirling, calligraphic steel sculpture, T'ang renders on human scale his inventive constructions in industrial metal, while Held's whirlwind of abstract shapes seems to vibrate with kinetic energy. Edda Renouf's soft, sienna-hued New York Sound Drawing, No. 10 demonstrates the lasting relevance of 20th century abstraction with its floating grid that recalls the work of Agnes Martin.
The diverse selection of YBA works illustrates the movement's stylistic variety and fearless experimentation: in Chris Ofili's vibrant watercolor, the artist celebrates African womanhood. His regal female is rendered with a strong, graphic silhouette, and painted in deep, jewel-toned hues in psychedelic patterns.
Julie Roberts' delicately-painted Restraining Jacket creates a tense fragility between the peaceful tableaux and its provocative central motif. Set against a pale blue background, the artist alludes to its multiple contexts throughout history, used as a means of controlling patients in understaffed Victorian asylums, a method of punishment and torture, or, as Roberts reminds us with her leather neck fastenings, an instrument for bondage erotica.
Mark Francis' smoky Untitled, painted in his signature wet-on-wet technique, presents smooth abstract forms that bring to mind the slick finishes of Gerhard Richter's pictures. Vaguely biological, Francis' forms draw heavily on his interest in mycology; here, he explores the seemingly chaotic and random formations that nonetheless seem to find a natural order.
Additional sale highlights include wonderfully varied works from conceptual artists Richard Prince, John Bock and Torbjrn Rdland. In Prince's Cowboys and Girlfriends, nine re-photographed images of women on motorbikes pursue the artist's exploration of cultural roles as dictated by magazines and advertising. Just as his Marlboro men focused on the commodification of the virile male, Cowboys and Girlfriends highlights American gender stereotypes by grouping pictures of sultry "girlfriends" alongside macho motorcycles. His later work, Quizmaster draws on Prince's earlier Joke paintings; with pencil and pocket-sized notebook paper, the artist reframes a dirty joke between the "Quizmaster" and the "Lady Contestant" as his own. With his signature "skull bunny"-a dark take on the iconic Playboy mascot, Quizmaster is a quintessential Prince work, both playful and challenging, with intersecting polarities that imbue the work with enduring appeal.
In John Bock's group of collages, fragments of found imagery come together to create a playful, colorful drama. The works recall Bock's three-dimensional "theatrical collages" leftover from his stage-sets constructed for his performance-lectures. Finally, Rdland's serene photograph, Nudist No 4, renders a young nude female, set within a verdant forest. Surrounding by lush nature, the figure appears nymph-like and vaguely mystical; it registers on an instinctual, primal level, an effect that is signature to Rdland's pictures.
The present collection offers a broad and refined perspective on contemporary art, with works that fit neatly into major movements and ones that defy easy classification.