I See a Teddy Roosevelt-Shaped Thing
I See a Teddy Roosevelt-Shaped Thing, 2002
Courtesy of Kelley Walker and Phillips de Pury & Company
LOT #22 in Phillips de Pury & Co's Under the Influence Auction, New York, March 9, 2009
ESTIMATE $80,000 - $120,000
PROVENANCE Paula Cooper Gallery, New York
EXHIBITED New York, Paula Cooper Gallery, Kelley Walker, October 25 - December 13, 2003; Columbus, Wexner Center for the Arts, Shiny: Critical Bling, September 16 - December 31, 2006
LITERATURE R. Smith, "Art in Review: Kelley Walker," The New York Times, November 28, 2003; W. Robinson, "Wexner Gets Shiny," Aesthetica (online content), July 13, 2006; B. Mayr, "Shiny Feeds Fascination with what Shimmers," The Columbus Dispatch, September 15, 2006
"I see a Teddy Roosevelt-shaped thing" takes the familiar form and concept of a Rorschach ink blot test and, with the application of a thin layer of reflective Mylar, changes everything. While these blots are typically a portal for looking into and divining something out of, Walker’s work is reflective, and to paraphrase Nietzsche, if you stare into the void long enough, the void stares back into you.
With its formal suggestion of a viper's face or a butterfly, the present lot occupies center stage of the style typified by Walker’s other works, which tend to take reflexive mediums as their subject. Whether printed (or reprinted) newspaper or various symbolic representations—the recycling logo, plastic woodgrain—the subtext implies that the things we surround ourselves with are actually physical reflections of self, reminding us daily who we are. This can be both reassuring and unsettling—in the case of "I see a Teddy Roosevelt-shaped thing" the analysis can certainly proceed either way. Its glossy, candy-colored surface belies the sharp-edged, industrial precision of its manufacture.
Its flatness, additionally, is an integral concept of Walker’s practice, and the present lot neatly straddles the traditionally problematic two-dimensional/three-dimensional divide: “I went to art school in Tennessee and I basically learned about sculptures through images in books and art magazines. Now I realize that I always had to imagine what the back of an object looked like. When I started making my own objects they would usually consist of flat planes in space. Likewise, during any attempt at photographing my sculpture I would end up feeling frustrated. So I began to work with an image of an object, skipping the physical object altogether”. (K. Walker, from an interview with R. Nickas, Purple, Spring 2003)
Text Courtesy of Phillips de Pury & Co(read less)
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