Art Basel

Art Basel

In 1625, Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens wrote that he was creating an oil sketch of the Three Graces using opalescent gray and warm brown hues— “en grisaille et non couleurs”—thus giving name to the practice of intentional chromatic reduction in painting and sculpture that has become an enduring paradigm of artistic practice to the present day.

At Art Basel 2015, Dominique Lévy (Booth G14) will present an exhibition of works in varying tones of gray, focusing on achromaticity throughout postwar and contemporary art. This presentation highlights such renowned artists as Alberto Giacometti, David Hammons, Pablo Picasso, Gerhard Richter, Robert Ryman, Frank Stella, and Christopher Wool, among others, for whom gray has figured as a central element in artmaking.

When pressed on his use of grays, browns, and whites, Alberto Giacometti famously asked, “If I see everything in gray, and in gray all the colors which I experience… why should I use any other color?” Dominique Lévy’s booth features Tête de Diego au col roulé, a painted bronze bust of the artist’s brother Diego, a departure from Giacometti’s previous elongated forms and a signal of the new framework he developed in the early 1950s for creating sculpture from life.

Zehn Farben (Ten Colors) is the first of Gerhard Richter’s Color Chart paintings, of which he made 123 between 1966 and 2008. Richter freely composed the Color Charts, experimenting with a variety of formats for both the color units and the overall paintings. He believed the charts provided a way to divorce color from its traditional descriptive, symbolic, and expressive ends, enacting a systematic, even scientific exploration of color. Although Richter’s Color Charts employ wide spectra of color, the hues of this first painting are muted and restrained, including primarily the grays and browns typical to grisaille painting.
Also on view is a collaged mixed-media work on paper made by Frank Stella nine years after the completion of his celebrated Black Paintings, as well as an early white painting by Robert Ryman. Though chromatically distant, these two works both employ monochrome to explore new possibilities for the medium of painting.

For Christopher Wool, gray is emphatically neither black nor white, but exists as a new zone of emotive indeterminacy. In his gray paintings, begun in 2000, each layer of spray-painted lines is obfuscated and blurred to the point at which it becomes impossible to distinguish amongst various imbrications. Wool’s Untitled (P 583) (2009), presented at the booth, is a large silkscreen comprised of images of these gray paintings.
Dominique Lévy is also presenting Le peintre au chapeau (1965) by Pablo Picasso. The artist purged color from his most evocative artworks in order to highlight their formal structure and autonomy, claiming that color “weakened” the painting. Here, Picasso uses grayscale to pay homage to another virtuoso of painting, Henri Matisse.

Artists on view in Dominique Lévy:

Carl Andre
Lee Bontecou
Alberto Burri
Alexander Calder
Enrico Castellani
Marlene Dumas
Lucio Fontana
Alberto Giacometti
David Hammons
Barbara Hepworth
Jasper Johns
On Kawara
Louise Nevelson
Roman Opalka
Pablo Picasso
Germaine Richier
Gerhard Richter
Robert Ryman
Kazuo Shiraga
Pierre Soulages
Frank Stella
Yves Tanguy
Günther Uecker
Christopher Wool

 

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Selected Press

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