Robert Natkin, ‘Intimate Lighting (Andre Emmerich Gallery)’, 1973, Alpha 137 Gallery
Robert Natkin, ‘Intimate Lighting (Andre Emmerich Gallery)’, 1973, Alpha 137 Gallery
Robert Natkin, ‘Intimate Lighting (Andre Emmerich Gallery)’, 1973, Alpha 137 Gallery
Robert Natkin, ‘Intimate Lighting (Andre Emmerich Gallery)’, 1973, Alpha 137 Gallery
Robert Natkin, ‘Intimate Lighting (Andre Emmerich Gallery)’, 1973, Alpha 137 Gallery

This magnificent, large Natkin (66 inches by 78 inches) signed framed acrylic on canvas painting bears the original label from the renowned Andre Emmerich Gallery label verso. It was created in the early 1970s, one of the more desirable eras of the artist's career. Robert Natkin was, famously, one of the first living artists to be awarded a $1 million commission to do a monumental painting for the lobby of the News Corporation building in Midtown Manhattan - a work that remains there to this day.
"Intimate Lighting" is a poignant, expressive and in some ways subtle work. In very good condition. It was de-accessioned from a NYC corporate collection which acquired it from Emmerich gallery. Below is a more detailed biography, courtesy of the Estate:
One of the most important abstract painters of his generation, Robert Natkin was known for his innovative blending of form, pattern, color and space to create a distinctly personal and lyrical style. Born in Chicago, Illinois in 1930, Natkin began his studies at the Art Institute of Chicago in the early fifties. In 1957, Natkin and his wife, fellow painter Judith Dolnick, opened Wells Street Gallery which featured the work of artists such as Aaron Siskind, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Jackson Pollock, and John Chamberlain. Seeking further opportunities to show his work, Natkin moved to New York City in 1959, and was represented by Poindexter Gallery and later André Emmerich. Natkin was the subject of solo exhibitions throughout the country and abroad, most notably at the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., the Foire Internationale d'Art Contemporain, Grand Palais, Paris, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Additionally, Natkin was featured in a number of prominent group shows, such as Young America at the Whitney Museum of Art, New York, in 1960. In the crowded field of Post-War Abstraction, Robert Natkin’s lifetime exploration of color and light set him apart. His poetic paintings combine a Post-Impressionist color sensibility with the lyricism of Paul Klee, a major influence on the artist. Celebrated in his lifetime even as abstraction fell in and out of favor, Natkin remained stubbornly committed to his vision and produced cohesive and challenging work throughout his career. The high-keyed color and all-over treatment recalls the work of Pierre Bonnard, as well as American Modernist Stuart Davis. Indeed, Natkin’s work can be seen as a bridge between the flattened non-objective forms of the American Abstract Artists group of the 1930s and 40s such as Josef Albers, Suzy Frelinghuysen, A. E. Gallatin, Paul Kelpe, George L. K. Morris, and the increasing graphicness found in contemporary abstraction, by painters like Trudy Benson, Keltie Ferris, and Jonathan Lasker. In 1963, the geography of Natkin’s paintings began to take on a different look. The tangent vertical structures of the Apollo series, with their semi-fixed framework, freed the artist from earlier compositional constraints. Within this simplified structure, Natkin could now concentrate further on paint application and surface rather than on broader structural concerns. Named for the Greek god of the sun and of poetry, the paintings of the Apollo series reflect Natkin’s preoccupation with light and with the interplay between light and color.
Paul Cézanne feared that his fellow artist Paul Gauguin would steal what he referred to as his “little sensations,” the vibrations resulting from contrasting colors. It is precisely this glowing and resonance, described by Natkin as a kind of “visual vibrato” that began to increasingly preoccupy Natkin in the mid-1960s. The vertical planes of his Apollo canvases served as pre-defined spatial strips, a set of separate yet interacting counterparts, in which the artist could safely play with hue modulation and counterpoint. The spatial aesthetic of the Apollo paintings with their richly resonating vertical planes brings to mind the interior-exterior scenes of both Bonnard and Henri Matisse. In these works, doorways and window-panes frame distant landscapes and intimate still life arrangements. In such works as Bonnard’s “Fenêtre Ouverte” (1943), this vivid meshing of foreground and background creates a tension that Natkin compares to optical illusion. In the canvases of his Apollo series, Natkin relies on a similar technique evoking, despite the non-representational format of his work, a bold spatial tension similar to the interior-exterior contrasts of Bonnard and Matisse. The walls of Natkin’s studio, in the 1960s as now, were papered with a seemingly haphazard patchwork of reproductions: Matisse, Bonnard, and Édouard Vuillard postcards, details of Diego Velázquez sleeves, Francisco Goya murals, and Johannes Vermeer canvases. Indeed, Vermeer’s mastery of the technique of paint modulation–often most visible in the depiction of a banal wall in the painting’s background, with the light’s reflection against it–have long inspired Natkin. He even recalls licking the surface of a Vermeer painting during a visit to New York’s Frick Museum in 1959. Natkin’s literal attempt to “ingest” or “imbibe” Vermeer’s technique was futile. Deeply disappointed by the unremarkably dry taste of the canvas, Natkin realized that it was through the metaphorical “tongue of the eye” alone that he would be able to absorb Vermeer’s aesthetic mastery. Natkin’s work can be found in esteemed public collections throughout the world, such as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY; the Art Institute of Chicago; The Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; the Brooklyn Museum of Art; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, MA; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; and the Museum of Modern Art, NY. Robert Natkin lived and worked in Redding, CT until his death in 2010.
Robert Natkin was the subject of a solo art Kabinett at Art Basel Miami 2016.

Signature: Signed on the recto

Andre Emmerich Gallery, New York

About Robert Natkin

Painter Robert Natkin was known for his lyrical abstract forms, applied in vivid, Post-Impressionist-inspired colors. He used both a paintbrush and palette knife to apply his bright acrylic paints to his canvas, sometimes also using cloths or netting as stencils. Though he made a number of series based on popular culture, like Hitchcock’s films and jazz, he declined to think of his work as deliberately narrative. “I sew together fragments of cloth unaware of the dress I’m sewing, unaware of its final look and function,” he once said. On occasion, his subjects were figural; a late series featured abstract heads and busts. Natkin was also famously mischievous. Among his other antics, his daughter recounted an instance in which Natkin licked a Vermeer painting at the Frick Collection when no one was looking.

American, 1930-2010, Chicago, Illinois