Lot # 041
Fall 2016 - 1st Session Live auction

Jean Albert McEwen
AANFM RCA 1923 - 1999 Canadian

Le drapeau inconnu
oil on canvas
signed and on verso signed, titled, dated 1964 - 1965 and inscribed "Trouvé dans atelier où de l'époque"
52 x 37 1/2 in  132.1 x 95.2cm

Provenance:
Galerie Bernard Desroches, Montreal
Private Collection, Montreal

Literature:
Constance Naubert-Riser, Jean McEwen: Colour in Depth, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1987, page 44

Jean McEwen’s Le drapeau inconnu is an exceptional example of the drama and intensity of his distinctive approach to colour. Inspired by Colour Field painters such as Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman, McEwen used layers of varying thicknesses of paint to create dazzling effects of transparency. Here, marbled coats of rust, crimson and mustard reveal underlying touches of chocolate brown, black and brilliant cobalt blue, and his energetic and expressive use of the paintbrush adds depth to his planes of colour. The relationship between structure and texture was intrinsic to his work, and it reaches its culmination in the 1964 series Les drapeaux inconnus (The Unknown Flags), with its strong cruciform motif and rich brushwork. The series title refers to a time of heated debates in the House of Commons in Ottawa, from 1963 to 1964, regarding the choosing of a new national flag. When no consensus was reached, Canadian artists were canvassed for ideas, and McEwen himself presented an abstract design. Constance Naubert-Riser wrote that McEwen’s series “can be seen as a tribute to this flag that was being so eagerly sought but about which no agreement could be reached.”

Estimate: $60,000 ~ $80,000 CAD  
Sold for: $112,100 CAD (including Buyer's Premium)

All prices are in Canadian Dollars.

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