LOT 028

1974 -

Plexiglass, wood, gold chains, metal wire and glue sculpture, 2007
80 1/2 x 32 x 62 in, 204.5 x 81.3 x 157.5 cm

Estimate: $90,000 - $120,000 CAD

Preview at:

Birch Libralato, Toronto
Acquired from the above by the present Private
Collection, Toronto

Louise Déry, David Altmejd, Galerie de l’UQAM, 2006, page 112
Louise Déry, David Altmejd. The Index, La Biennale di Venezia, 52e Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte, Galerie de l’UQAM, 2007, page 72
François Michaud, David Altmejd, Flux, Louise Déry, “Le codex Altmejd,” Paris-Musées, Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris, 2014, pages 42 - 51

Birch Libralato, Toronto, David Altmejd, Renate Anger and Eric Cameron, October 20 – November 17, 2007

Untitled was created in 2007, the same year the young David Altmejd (born in Montreal in 1974) represented Canada at the Venice Biennale. There he exhibited two works that were as monumental as they were memorable, The Giant and The Index, in which a vision of sculpture anchored in the representation of the body converged in masterful fusion with both a formalist heritage and postmodern eclecticism. From there, his artistic approach was set, his body of work evolving in relation to the idea of worlds condensing, contracting, compelled. Falling within this moment of convergence, Untitled deploys a layered arrangement, incorporating a pastel wooden base on which the artist has placed a Plexiglas reliquary. Hard and brittle, visibly transparent and visually penetrable even while hermetically sealed, the casket contains another element, also made of Plexiglas: a sort of nested architecture that simultaneously occupies and divides the space. It reveals an elegant scenography composed of metal wires and tiny golden chains, a theatre of fine lines, effervescent and eruptive, with a free and naturalistic design. The artist constructs a veritable labyrinth—one of his favourite shapes—allowing him to explore the relationship between interior and exterior, between finite and infinite space.

As is often the case in the rich works of Altmejd, this sculpture formally and metaphorically suggests certain correlations between displays found in luxury boutiques and department stores, and those found in museums—particularly natural history museums—because of the treasures they contain. Here, the small, star-shaped, tree-like figures and kaleidoscopic nodules the artist causes to “sprout” are linked by walkways of wire and chain that generate connections and intersections between themselves and with the Plexiglas partitions. These straight and scintillating patterns draw an analogy with the notions of intuition, inspiration and the psyche. The artist conveys the presence of energy as a concrete dimension of the spirit and as a fundamental source of his practice. He seeks to circulate the flow, as if he were representing the nervous system, with its stigmata capable of inducing perpetually changing movements of thought within the cranium. Considering the other works of Altmejd that feature representations of human, animal and fantastical body parts, one understands his interest in that which transforms (like the werewolves common in his early works)—in that which has the possibility of changing, and so is alive—and, by the same token, his interest in demonstrating the potential energy of the physical body as well as active thought.

Not surprisingly, Altmejd studied biology before pursuing degrees in visual arts at the Université du Québec à Montréal (BA, 1997) and then at Columbia University in New York (MA, 2005). In his body of work, he has created the idea of a universal world rich in references to the concepts of knowledge, the encyclopedia, the library and art history (The Academy, The University, The Sculptor, The Index, Le soufflé, Le grand théâtre, etc.). In the tiered boxes and in the modules and platforms present in his works, he crafts a skilful representation of this crystallization of time, figures and cultures with which art confronts us. And, generally speaking, these arrangements remind one of the formal block that gives sculpture its own defined territory, which distinguishes this practice from that of installation. As in Untitled, everything works towards presenting the piece integrated onto its pedestal and in its case, as if the artist were sheltering it from too great an exhibitionism.

We thank Louise Déry, director of the Galerie de l’UQAM, Montreal, for contributing the above essay.

Please note: the dimensions include the plinth which is part of this work.

Estimate: $90,000 - $120,000 CAD

All prices are in Canadian Dollars

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