An exploration of masters of abstraction, opposite in appearance but harmonious in union…
Edward Tyler Nahem presents Figure/Field at Art Basel’s viewing rooms Miami Beach, offering an exclusive selection of works by Sam Francis (1923-1994), Joan Mitchell (1925-1992), and Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008), amongst others. Comprised of 10 works, the booth explores masters of abstraction that are opposite in appearance but harmonious in union.
Booth highlights include Stella’s Damascus Gate, Stretch Variation II, Half Size (1969). In 1967 Frank Stella began a series of celebrated paintings entitled “Protractors”, in which arcs within square borders, sometimes overlapping, are arranged side-by-side to produce full and half circles painted in rich color. The “Protractors” series further extended the concept of the shaped canvas frequently seen in Stella’s work. These paintings are named after circular cities Stella visited while in the Middle East earlier in the 1960s. The name of the city or that city’s gate in each title distinguishes the format of each painting, while the Roman numeral following it designates the design group or pattern of its surface painting.
Also on view is Sam Francis’ Untitled, (1979-80) – a work from the artist’s self-titled ‘Matrix paintings’, which many consider the zenith of his creative output. Untitled previously belonged to the late Japanese businessman and influential collector Seiju Tsutsumi, of the Seiyu Corporation supermarket group – one of Japan’s most powerful family-run companies. An innovator in many ways, Tsutsumi was considered instrumental in introducing the best of Western art to Japan, mounting exhibitions of works by Marcel Duchamp, Edvard Munch, Jasper Johns, Paul Klee and Egon Schiele not in museums, but in his own department stores.
Aware of Tsutsumi’s influence in Japan, Francis worked closely with the collector in selecting the very best works out of his own holdings for Tsutsumi’s personal collection. The work on display at Edward Tyler Nahem had been handpicked by the artist for Tsutsumi, destined for display in the collector’s planned private museum, unfortunately never realized before his death.
With vivid torrents of paint swept into a frenetic dance, Joan Mitchell’s ‘Untitled (1962)’ is an ecstatic celebration of gesture and color, made during the height of her career. Painted in 1962, a few years after Mitchell moved from New York to live permanently in France, Untitled was created during a triumphant period of critical and commercial success for the artist, buoyed by the euphoria of her new Parisian surroundings. In Paris, Mitchell worked with newfound confidence and vigor, producing canvases that both rivaled and in many cases surpassed those of her male Abstract Expressionist contemporaries.