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    Description

    Robert Bechtle (b. 1932)
    At The Golden Nugget, 1972
    Oil on canvas
    44-7/8 x 64 inches (114 x 162.6 cm)
    Initialed lower right: RB

    PROVENANCE:
    Galerie des 4 Mouvements, Paris;
    Private collection, Paris, acquired from the above;
    By descent to the present owner, November 1973.

    EXHIBITED:
    Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, "Amerikanischer Fotorealismus," 1972;
    [The above exhibition also traveled to] Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt and Kunst-und Museumsverein, Wuppertal, 1972;
    Galerie des 4 Mouvements, Paris, "Grands Maitres Hyperréalistes Américains," May-June 1973;
    Palais de l'Europe, Menton, France, "Dixième Biennale International d''Art de Menton," July-September 1974.

    LITERATURE:
    Württembergischer Kunstverein, Amerikanischer Fotorealismus, Stuttgart, 1972, cat. no. 3;
    Galerie des 4 Mouvements, Grands Maitres Hyperréalistes Américains, Paris, 1973, n.p., cat. no. 2, illus.;
    Palais de l'Europe, Dixième Biennale International d'Art de Menton, Menton, 1974, n.p., cat. no. 80;
    Louis K. Meisel, Photorealism, Harry N. Abrams, New York, 1980, p. 37, pl. 31, illustrated in color.

    Robert Bechtle's powerful At The Golden Nugget epitomizes California scene painting from the 1970s. The painting exhibits the dual influences of photography - the snapshot-like cropping - and of cinema - the narrative of a middle-class woman dressed in late 1960s-era fashion getting up from her chair in a room suffused with sunlight. Indeed, time is a central subject of Bechtle's work. As the artist notes, "a photograph often gives the feeling of a particular moment in time, and you get the sense of how that is bracketed in with the before and the after." This said, Bechtle is not interested in strict representational verisimilitude like the Photorealists, as evidenced here in the painterly depiction of the woman's face.
    Interestingly, most critics in the 1970s considered Bechtle's work as Photorealistic and therefore regressive, arguing that it was a retreat into nostalgia. Nonetheless, a recent reevaluation of the relevance of Photorealism in the 1960s and 1970s interprets it as exploring the increasingly mediated nature of vision. For example, the art historian David Lubin writes that Photorealism "was the art form that perhaps best posed the question only then emerging in media studies and information theory.... Do mechanical devices of transcription and reproduction bring us closer to reality or ultimately make it more remote? ("Blank Art Deadpan Realism in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," in Picturing America: Photorealism in the 1970s, 2009, p. 55). Other critics highlight instead Bechtle's desire to represent the "essence of American experience" (for example, J. Bishop and M. Auping in Roberth Bechtle: A Retrospective, 2005).
    Both analyses help us understand At The Golden Nugget. The painting reflects the carefulness of Bechtle's method (which, according to Lubin, examines the increasing presence of images in American culture) and the slow rhythm of California life. Oppositely, At The Golden Nugget portrays a world of increasing consumption and industrialization. As the critic Dieter Roelstraete writes, "we are left with the intriguing paradox of Photorealism's definite investment in notions of craft and the artisanal production of images, on the one hand, and its move to chronicle precisely those early years of post-manual...,post-Fordist post-production on the other.... It painted an accurate portrait...of the very processes through which this world was evaporating" ("Modernism, Postmodernism and Gleam: On the Photorealist Work Ethic," 2010).




    Condition Report*: There appear to be scattered minor surface accretions. There is a spot of what appears to be either a surface abrasion or an accretion to the right of the central figure's shoulder. There appears to be an approximate 3 inch horizontal surface scratch along the left edge, centrally located. While some of the surface accretions fluoresce, there appears to be no evidence of inpainting under ultraviolet light.
    *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. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2016
    2nd Monday
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