The New York Times | Commerce Meets Culture at Art Basel
June 15, 2017
Lévy Gorvy is pleased to participate in Art Basel with a presentation anchored in the gallery’s program, featuring a diverse array of paintings and sculptures by Vincenzo Agnetti, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Alberto Burri, Alexander Calder, Sergio Camargo, Enrico Castellani, Dan Colen, Yves Klein, Piero Manzoni, Pablo Picasso, Sigmar Polke, Carol Rama, Martial Raysse, Günther Uecker, and Zao Wou-Ki, among others. Lévy Gorvy’s booth reflects the gallery’s longstanding commitment to postwar experimentation and moments of cross-cultural exchange among central figures in the European, American, and Asian avant-gardes.
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Baby Boom (1982) is the standout of Lévy Gorvy’s presentation. Using both the language of graffiti and that of classical art, Baby Boom powerfully offers the artist’s uncompromising commentary on racial identity, cultural belonging, and religious tradition. The hand-stretched triptych depicts members of the holy family, all of whom are, ultimately, also the artist himself. Basquiat obscures the faces of the three figures, with the anointed child’s face rendered in opaque black brushstrokes overlaid with an African mask, alluding to modernist appropriation of so-called primitive art forms. Swathes of luminous blue intermingle with crisp whites, and the controlled sensuousness of these brushstrokes stands in direct contrast with the graphic figures of the holy family. Attesting to the painting’s importance in Basquiat’s œuvre, Baby Boom has been included in nearly every major museum exhibition of the artist’s work, and has been in the same prestigious private collection for over sixteen years.
Another highlight is Sigmar Polke’s Untitled (c. 1976), which belongs to the German artist’s iconic Heron series. Impressive in scale, this fabric painting depicts two herons in an exotic and hallucinogenic landscape. Their sinuous and supple necks trace elegant arcs atop a piece of fabric patterned with Chinese characters and framed by monochrome triangles. Polke’s use of the triangular motif harkens back to his famous painting, The Higher Powers Command: Paint the Upper Right Corner Black! (1969). In this way, the artist pays tribute to his own history, destabilizing the past while pointing toward his future.
Among the artists on view in Lévy Gorvy’s booth are a group of postwar painters whose explorations in the white monochrome form allowed for radical innovation in style and materiality. The surface of Günther Uecker’s Licht, Schatten und Feld (Light, Shadow and Field) (1967), a complex and emotionally charged nail canvas, appears to ebb and flow in undulating fields of white. Surface was also a key concern for Alberto Burri, whose Cretto (1972) records the painstaking steps of its own making in an interplay of chance and control. Working within the tradition of monochrome painting, Burri transformed pigment from a means of illusion into a vehicle for sculptural relief. A 1958 example of Piero Manzoni’s all-white Achrome series is also on view. Manzoni made these paintings by covering a canvas with kaolin, a wet slip used in pottery, and applying an embalming agent. The result is an elegant web of folds that proliferate across the woven surface.
Lévy Gorvy will feature a selection of works by Yves Klein. One of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, Klein interrogated the visual experience of the subline. A monochrome sponge sculpture and two paintings—one rendered in the artist’s iconic International Klein Blue and the other in brilliant gold leaf—will be on view. For Klein, the monochrome paintings embodied an immaterial sensibility and the sponges were an inversion of this immateriality: the cosmic space of the monochrome was drawn out into reality through the sponge, just as the sponge was pulled from the sea.
The gallery is also excited to present the work of several artists who recently joined its program, including Carol Rama, Dan Colen, and Marital Raysse.
Over the span of seven decades, Carol Rama inhabited a wide array of styles and combined traditional art materials with psychically charged industrial and domestic objects. Her work is currently the subject of two major exhibitions—a long-awaited survey at New York’s New Museum, Carol Rama: Antibodies, which is on view until September, as well as Spazio anche più che tempo (Space Even More than Time) at the Palazzo Ca’ nova on Venice’s Grand Canal, which opened in conjunction with the 57th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale on May 8. Lévy Gorvy’s Art Basel booth will feature two intimate Bricolage works by the artist, both made in 1966. These delicate paintings occupy the interstices between figuration and abstraction and foreground the human body in their innovative materiality.
Lévy Gorvy is pleased to inaugurate its representation of Dan Colen with the inclusion of Purgatory (2017) in its Art Basel booth. With its surreal, blood-red palette, the work embodies contemporary transcendence in its fantastical expanse of meticulously rendered, billowing clouds. Built up in lush layers of sprayed oil paint, Colen’s Purgatory paintings are atmospheric color fields that coalesce into monumental studies of clouds. The Purgatory works will be one of three new bodies of work that Colen will present in a solo exhibition at Lévy Gorvy in March 2018.
Lévy Gorvy is now proud to represent Martial Raysse in the United States. The gallery’s Art Basel presentation features two iconic works by the artist: an early sculptural assemblage, Étalage hygiène de la vision (1960), and a haunting portrait, Le Fun Solange! (2014). Raysse was a prominent member of the European avant-garde in the 1960s and 70s, establishing a subversive body of work that critiqued the postwar European culture of consumerism and advertising. He continues to create work that comments on the intricacies of popular culture and engages the history of art with insight and boldness. Lévy Gorvy will open a solo exhibition of Raysse’s work in 2018.
Following the success of our exhibition Willem de Kooning | Zao Wou-Ki earlier this year, Lévy Gorvy is pleased to announce the gallery’s close collaboration with the Fondation Zao Wou-Ki in the United States. The artist’s evocative masterpiece Deep Water (1957) will be featured in our Art Basel booth. This work, which juxtaposes washes of deep blue with intricate calligraphic brushwork, is exemplary of Zao’s pioneering approach to painting, in which various modern abstract practices converge in washes of gestural color and landscape-like compositions.
June 15, 2017
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