15: RICHARD ESTES, On The Staten Island Ferry Looking T
On The Staten Island Ferry Looking Toward Manhattan (L'Embarquement Pour Cythere), 1989. oil on linen 39 1/2 x 73 in. (100.3 x 185.4 cm) Signed "Richard Estes" lower right.
PROVENANCE Allan Stone Gallery, Inc., New York Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York
EXHIBITED Japan, Iwate Museum of Art, American Photorealism, April 4 – May 16, 2004; Iwaki City Art Museum, May 23 – July 4, 2004; Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art, July 16 – September 5, 2004; Hokkaido, Hakodate Museum of Art, September 12 – November 7, 2004;New Brunswick, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Jane Vorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, December 12, 2004 – March 27, 2005
Isn’t it ridiculous to set up something when the whole world is full of still life? RICHARD ESTES (Richard Estes, 1977 from a conversation with John Arthur, “A Conversation,” Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the New York Graphic Society, Boston, 1978). On several occasions, Richard Estes, who has come to embody the superrealistic movement of the late 1960s and 1970s, has admitted that his paintings of New York’s urban landscapes possess the placid air of a Sunday morning. Indeed, the sublime calm of Estes’ pictures evokes a certain purity of visual association: his reflective surfaces (which he often highlights in his paintings) are always plentiful and rendered with astounding precision. In addition, his technique involves the accurate portrayal of all reflections, including backwards labeling and the shifting, liquid colors that represent the warped signage that dominates Manhattan. Estes’ mission throughout his five decades of painting has been the transformation of a two-dimensional canvas into a three-dimensional life-form, where technical rules such as perspective and tonal shading are only the most elementary set of laws. Estes has testified to the necessity of multiple vanishing points, asserting that, since human beings are constantly shifting their vision, a sole vanishing point is insufficient. The present lot, On the Staten Island Ferry Looking Toward Manhattan (L’Embarquement Pour Cythere), 1989, is, as always in Estes work, a result of several different pictures taken at separate points during the day. From the viewer’s perspective, he is gazing upon the receding tip of Manhattan, adorned with meticulously detailed visions of the lost Twin Towers among the other mainstays of New York’s most southern point. Below and to the left, gentle waves wash tranquilly from the body of the ferry, their mesmeric exactitude a beautiful display of Estes’ inimitable technique. On occasion, Estes will take certain visual liberties with his paintings, brightening or changing a lighted surface in order to further the “evanescent” quality of the work. It is this evanescence that lends the present lot a superior quality to its photographic counterparts; Estes’ artistic vision evokes the beauty of a found scene.