Peter’s Auction Pick of the Day: October 14th

Numbers and Letters

Today there seemed to be a lot of previewers asking about three artists in particular.  Jasper Johns, Ed Ruscha, and Robert Indiana.  All of which are represented in this auction with superb icons of text-based art.

Ed Ruscha’s Vowel #58 U (Lot 61) seems to keep coming up on everyone’s list of most desired works for this sale.  For his 1996 show at Gagosian Gallery, Ruscha selected five dozen or so seemingly random books which he then painted vowels in various colors, font sizes and type-face on each cover.    The books themselves were not extraordinary;  there was a Sotheby’s auction catalogue, a reference book and various text books.  However, the example we are offering happens to be one of the artists own books (Various Small Fires) that he published in 1964.  I think if I could go back in time to that show in 1996 and choose from any of the dozens of books, I would choose this one because he created a painting on top of his own earlier publication.  To me this adds another layer of meaning.

As for numbers, who can resist the bold graphic compositions of Robert Indiana?  His portfolio, “Numbers (0-9)”  from 1968 (Lot 313), are stunning in several installations.  Running along the wall from zero to nine suggests order and expected progression, but when placed out-of-order one can imagine a reference to a telephone number or any number of specific personal references. {Note:  We used the 5 & 0 on our blog to reference our 50th auction}.

Jasper Johns’ treatment of numbers by contrast is to superimpose one on top of another, creating a complex composition where the eye fools the mind by picking out the silhouette of one number then instantly recognizing another; sometimes in quick succession.

Look online or come to the preview to see other text-based art including Joseph Kosuth’s wonderfully droll “Art Made With A Rubber Stamp and Signed By Joseph Kosuth” (lot #69) and Raymond Pettibone’s “Don’t Get Caught” (lot 71)

Lot information:

Edward Ruscha
Vowel #58 U (From Vowels : Paintings on Book Covers)
August 6, 1996
Oil on Various Small Fires book cover 7.125” x 5.675”
October 17, 2010 Auction

Robert Indiana Numbers (0-9)
Color serigraphs
Printed by Edition Domberger Signed and dated lower right; edition lower left #124 from the signed edition of 125 Each 25.5” x 19.5”
From the edition with ten poems written by Robert Creeley verso. Sold with the original cloth bound portfolio case.
October 17, 2010 Auction

Jasper Johns
0 through 9 (ULAE 189)
Lithograph printed in tones of blue
Editon #57 of 60
Signed and dated lower right
Sheet 9.65” x 7.85”; Image 6 x 4.85
October 17, 2010 Auction



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