The Lucky U, 1959 oil on canvas 70 1/4 x 83 1/4in (178.4 x 211.5cm)
Provenance: Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles Private Collection, Los Angeles (acquired directly from the above, circa 1959) By descent from the above to the present owner
Exhibited: Los Angeles, Ferus Gallery, Recent Paintings by Robert Irwin, March 23-April 18, 1959, no. 9, (illustrated) Pasadena, The Pasadena Art Museum, Robert Irwin, July 31-August 31, 1960 Los Angeles, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Robert Irwin, June 20-August 15, 1993 (illustrated p. 76). Traveled to Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne; Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid
As part of Robert Irwin's first show entitled 'Recent Paintings By Robert Irwin' at the Ferus Gallery in 1959, the present lot reveals the aesthetic as well as philosophical musings popular at the time amongst many of the artists at Ferus, including Craig Kauffman, Billy Al Bengston, and Ken Price. Irwin's gestural brushstroke evokes the emotion and rebellion associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement, while the title reveals an influence from Japanese culture and Buddhism. The works exhibited in the Ferus show included titles referencing revered Zen poets of China and Japan, as well as Buddhist and Japanese rituals. From the same show, Irwin's Black Raku is an ode to Japanese pottery tradition and has a remarkably similar palette and composition as the Lucky U. Black Raku is currently in the permanent collection of the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art.