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John McCracken (American, 1934–2011)
LOT ID: 79352
Red Element, 1991

Wood, Polyester Resin and Fiberglass on Plywood
21.5 х 230 х 14 in. (54.61 x 584.2 x 35.56 cm.)
Signed, titled on verso of each triangle
Lot description
This 1991 wall piece by American sculptor John McCracken comprises three gleaming, red triangles whose acute angles and vibrant hues speak to the aesthetics of high modernism. The sculpture’s vibrant and reflective surface is achieved through the application of polyester resin and fiberglass to plywood, the industrial materials favored by the artist in creating his iconic Minimalist sculptures. Both challenging and visually arresting, “Red Element” exemplifies the highly polished, boldly colored works for which McCracken is best known.

John McCracken (American, 1934-2011) was a Minimalist artist. As a student at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, McCracken studied painting, earning a BFA in 1962 and completing most of the work for an MFA. Early in his career, McCracken began to incorporate volumetric effects into his paintings; he then began using industrial techniques and materials to create Minimalist sculptures with bright, polished surfaces. Citing the influence of Barnett Newman’s color fields and the art of Minimalists like Donald Judd and Carl Andre, McCracken developed a distinctive sculptural motif: the gleaming and monochromatic plank, leaned against a wall. Wall-hanging planks and free-standing geometric columns, all with highly reflective surfaces, would also become recurring forms in his body of sculptural work. McCracken had his first exhibition at the Nicholas Wilder Gallery in Los Angeles in 1965, followed in 1966 by his first New York show at the Robert Elkon Gallery, and was included in important Minimalist exhibitions such as “Primary Structures” at the Jewish Museum in 1966 and "American Sculpture of the Sixties" at the Los Angeles County Museum in 1967. A major retrospective of McCracken's work was held at the Castello di Rivoli, Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Turin, Italy in 2011. He has also had recent solo exhibitions at David Zwirner, New York, NY (1997, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010); Inverleith House at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland(2009); Zwirner & Wirth, New York, NY (2000 and 2005); Hauser & Wirth, Zurich, Switzerland (1999 and 2005); and the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent, Belgium (2004).

Selected Public Collections:
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada
Art Institute of Chicago, IL
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal, Canada
Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain, Geneva
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA
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Red Element by John McCracken
  • Red Element by John McCracken
  • Red Element by John McCracken
  • Red Element by John McCracken
  • Red Element by John McCracken
  • Red Element by John McCracken
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