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.
Third party guarantors are required by us to disclose to anyone they are advising their financial interest in any lots they are guaranteeing. However, for the avoidance of any doubt, if you are advised by or bidding through an agent on a lot identified as being subject to a third party guarantee you should always ask your agent to confirm whether or not he or she has a financial interest in relation to the lot.
Post Lot Text
Floating over a rich black background, two layered sans serif letter U in green and white drift off-center above a raging fire of curling, twisting deep orange flames. Based on figurative iconography, the letter U and flames are recognizable objects, but once arranged on Guyton’s linen support they become alien symbols without a clear narrative. Black juxtaposed against white and green against red-orange set up a vibrant, energetic dynamic, and the two Us act as an anchoring counterweight to both the flames below and the band of white and wrinkled book cover edge above, underscoring Guyton’s formal rigor.
Painted in 2005, Untitled dates from the year that Guyton first began producing his inkjet paintings on linen, a significant turning-point in the artist’s career. Guyton had already been experimenting with printing on paper in 2002, when he created a series of so-called “drawings,” in which simple patterns created in Microsoft Word were overprinted onto pages ripped out of books from his library. Searching for a way to create abstract elements, Guyton suddenly recognized the creative potential of Word. He explains, “What I realized is that Microsoft Word has a structure to it. It has a language and margins. It has functions and a default size and a default color, which is black. And all those presets I decided to use as the structure for making drawings” (W. Guyton, ibid.).
In 2005, however, these works gave way to a new phase of inkjet paintings that would dramatically change the course of his practice. Rather than feeding the paper page directly into the printer, Guyton began scanning the full book cover into his computer, editing the image in a digital file, and printing it onto a high-quality primed linen he had chanced upon in New York. Made in Provence, this new canvas material was ideally suited to registering ink, and allowed Guyton to explore the painterly possibilities of the printer. As the machine attempted to digest the canvas, blurring, bleeding and skidding transpired in the transfer of ink, creating a new vocabulary of artistic nuances.
Chance and accident greatly inform works like Untitled, in which Guyton encourages but ultimately cannot control the breaks and slips that occur in the printing process. In a way, these slips, created free of the artist’s hand, are indices of their authorship in the same way that certain brushstrokes can identify a painter. Computers, scanners and printers have become the artist’s paintbrush, and the union of these tools with the canvas produces remarkable, while unpredictable, effects that bring Guyton’s iconography to life in ways he could not have imagined. One example of this is the flame motif that appears frequently in Guyton’s art and comprises an important element in the present work. “Fire is always captivating,” he claims, “...Destructive, but also generative. And of course hot. There’s a great interaction between the image and the material in the fire paintings, which I didn’t predict, in the way the ink drips and runs. The first time I printed the fire on linen was one of those brutally humid New York summer nights. No AC in the studio. I was sweating and the paintings were melting” (W. Guyton, quoted in interview with D. De Salvo, in Wade Guyton OS, exh. cat., Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2012, p. 204).
These now-dried drips on the linen in Untitled make a provocative visual pairing with the flames below, a motif that Guyton had originally acquired from an old book cover found in his library during his earlier “drawing” phrase. In 2005, disenchanted with the increasingly abstract appearance of his works, he began using the scanned image of the book cover in an effort to reintroduce a sense of pictorial content to his practice. The resulting fire paintings like Untitled revealed the power of the printer not just to reproduce, but to paint—and, indeed, to re-conceptualize. The original book cover, with its torn edges visible along the top edge of the present work, is transformed in the process from a physical object to an image. The flames and letter U also become new representations of themselves, images that are removed from their original context.
Guyton’s efforts in works like Untitled to examine painting’s conventions in tools, motifs, processes and conceptual underpinnings encapsulate why he is one of contemporary painting’s preeminent artists, and also recall the conceptual advances of artists before him. His work certainly borrows from Duchamp’s legacy of the readymade, the de-skilled, the importance of chance and the conviction that an artist’s hand need not be involved for an object to be considered an artwork. Using appropriated images that are in turn invested with new meaning, another of Guyton’s main influences is undoubtedly the “Pictures Generation” of artists such as Sherrie Levine, Louise Lawler, Cindy Sherman and Richard Prince, whose Nurse paintings are based on book covers, similar to Untitled.
Guyton’s digital paintings also echo Yves Klein’s series of fire paintings, created decades earlier, in which the artist distorted paper and cardboard with an ignited torch that imprinted abstract patterns in the support as it burned. Like Untitled, Klein’s fire-born works use non-traditional materials and chance in the service of painting, and push the limits of art past its conventional definitions. Describing what drew him to certain artists for inspiration, Guyton recalls, “When I started to be interested in making art, all the artists I was interested in were involved with the manipulation of language or the malleability of the categories of art. There was a freedom in this way of thinking. There was a space where objects could be speculative” (W. Guyton, quoted in S. Rothkopf, “Operating System: I. From Image to Object,” in Wade Guyton OS, exh. cat., Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2012, p. 11).
Guyton’s harnessing of a medium that ostensibly dispensed with the artist’s hand was, in part, a product of his own anxieties regarding image-making in the face of the vast art historical legacy, and in the contemporary world of ubiquitous digital images. Yet, by tapping into the potential of the printer to reinvent one of the most time-honored artistic mediums, Guyton’s works have come to occupy an important position within the artistic canon that daunted him in his early years. As Whitney curator Scott Rothkopf states, “[Guyton] improbably endows these mechanical pictures with a lived sense of his struggle to bring an image from the screen onto the canvas or simply to bring an image into being at all...[T]he interaction between the digital and the manual, the pictorial and the literal, have always been at the heart of Guyton’s practice and its deeply rooted connection to the ways in which we haltingly navigate the visual and technological barrage of our time,” (S. Rothkopf, “Operating System. I. From Image to Object,” in Wade Guyton OS, exh. cat., Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2012, p. 25).