May 12, 2022 - Sale 2604

Sale 2604 - Lot 128

Estimate: $ 8,000 - $ 12,000

Oil on canvas, 1961. 405x1070 mm; 16x42 1/4 inches. Signed in oil, lower right recto, and signed and dated in oil, verso.

Provenance: Private collection, Chicago.

According to the Guggenheim Museum, New York, whose holdings include works by the artist, "Sugaï (1919-1996) was born in Kobe, Japan. He first experimented with oil painting at age nine and became a student at the Osaka School of Fine Arts in 1933 when he was fourteen. He was part of the first generation of 20th-century Japanese artists to become acquainted with Western painting techniques, but he also explored both typography and Japanese calligraphy, important in his subsequent work. Sugaï left art school prematurely to work in commercial advertising for Hankyu electric rail company from 1937 to 1945. During the 1940s, Sugaï gradually became familiar with the work of European artists such as Max Ernst, Paul Klee and Joan Miró, and late in that decade he discovered the work of Americans Alexander Calder and Jackson Pollock through art magazines.

He dedicated himself to painting and moved to Paris in 1952, enrolling at the Académie de la grand chaumière. He had his first solo show at Galerie Craven in 1954. Considered part of the École de Paris (School of Paris) and the Nouveau Réalisme (New Realism) movements, in 1962 he began to shift away from the abstraction in vogue on his arrival in Paris, moving from calligraphic, mainly monochromatic, organic motifs to more hard-edge geometric imagery. Sugaï collaborated with critic Jean-Clarence Lambert to illustrate two books of poetry in 1957, and began writing short-form essays before publishing a book, La quête sans fin (Endless quest), in 1970. His work of the 1960s and 1970s featured large capitals and reduced typographic forms. Often he would make a letter the sole subject of the picture, for example the well-known S series in which the letter became almost anthropomorphic due to Sugaï's manipulation of color and placement."