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    Description

    JAN MATULKA (American, 1890-1972)
    Cape Ann Abstraction, circa 1931
    Gouache and pencil on paper
    12 x 18 inches (30.5 x 45.7 cm)
    Signed lower left in pencil: Matulka
    Estate stamped verso

    PROVENANCE:
    Estate of the Artist;
    Private Midwest Collection.

    EXHIBITED:
    David Cook Galleries, Denver, Colorado (label verso);
    Cape Ann Historical Museum, Gloucester, Massachusetts, Jan Matulka: A Painter's Eye on Cape Ann, essay by Henry Adams, June 10, 2006 to September 10, 2006, cat. no. 6 (label verso).

    This abstraction is a fine example of Matulka's early 1930s hard-edged style which closely resembles the work of his friend Stuart Davis. During this period, Matulka painted a number of compositions of this type which blend landscape elements (such as the hull of a boat half submerged in a body of water near the horizon line) and a jumble of nautical motifs arranged on a foreground plane in the manner of a still life. He produced these works in Gloucester, Massachusetts between roughly 1931 and 1936.

    As Henry Adams noted of this phase of Matulka's work, citing this particular abstraction as a prime example of Matulka's penchant for combining abstract color patterns with an overlay of line drawing: "The colors are deployed in a fashion which is nearly abstract, although they tend to form biomorphic shapes. The lines show recognizable forms such as anchors or the ribs of wrecked and decaying boats. The fascination of these pieces lies in the way in which the colors sometimes serve to outline the form, sometimes to run across and deny it. These designs move a step further beyond Cubism toward Abstract Expressionism. They often recall the early work of [Matulka's friend, Arshile] Gorky, although Matulka generally did not abandon his gifts as a draftsman. Usually we can recognize what is recording, only a few paintings drift (as does Cape Ann Abstraction) towards pure abstraction (Jan Matulka: A Painter's Eye on Cape Ann, 2006, pp. 4 and 7).

    On the reverse of this gouache is a line drawing of buildings which resemble structures found along a waterfront. The drawing bears color annotations in Matulka's native Czech, suggesting the artist intended to use it eventually as the study for a later painting. A photocopy of the drawing is preserved in an clear acetate sleeve on the back of the painting's housing.


    Condition Report*: Very good condition. Framed under glass. Two tiny isolated pinpoint losses to triangular mauve shape of gouache near top center, and a few surface smudges.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2010
    27th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 4,037

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