Thomas Downing (American, 1928-1985) Ring Eight 1969

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Lot 4W
Thomas Downing
(American, 1928-1985)
Ring Eight
1969

Sold for US$ 131,562 inc. premium
PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF DR NARCISO AND HORTENSIA ANILLO, WASHINGTON D.C.
Thomas Downing (American, 1928-1985)
Ring Eight
1969

signed, titled and dated 69 on the reverse
acrylic on canvas

90 by 90 in.
228.6 by 228.6 cm.

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    Pyramid Gallery, Washington D.C.
    Private Collection, Maryland (acquired from the above in 1978)
    Thence by descent to the present owner

    Exhibited
    Washington D.C., The American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, Thomas Downing and the Sublime Decorative, 2018, illustrated in color on the front cover

    An exemplary painting by Thomas Downing, Ring Eight (1969) hails from the artist's most desirable and captivating series of dot compositions. Striking in scale and spectacular in color, the present work is instantly recognisable as a masterwork from the Color Field artist, who's canon is typified by geometric patterns rendered In vibrant jewel-like colors that explore the possibilities of color and space.

    Based in the nation's capital from 1953, Downing was a key member of the Washington Color School alongside his friends and peers Kenneth Noland, Morris Louis and Howard Mehring. After gaining recognition from solo shows in the Washington D.C. area, examples from Downing's dot paintings were featured in Clement Greenberg's seminal travelling exhibition Post-Painterly Abstraction in 1964, and later the highly influential show The Responsive Eye at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1965. After becoming a teacher at the Corcoran School of Art and Design in 1965, Downing played a pivotal role in the development of the next generation of Washington area artists, most notably Sam Gilliam who has referenced Downing as both a close friend and a major influence on his practise.

    Today Downing's work is included in a number of important museum collections, including Washington D.C.'s National Gallery of Art, the Phillips Collection and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, together with the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. The American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, Washington D.C., recently held a major retrospective on the artist in 2018. Entitled Thomas Downing and the Sublime Decorative, the present work was featured in the ground-breaking show and was chosen as the front cover of the exhibition catalogue.

    Completely fresh to market, the present work has never come to auction before and has been in the same family collection for over forty years. The work was acquired from D.C. arts institution Pyramid Gallery in 1978 by prominent collectors Dr Narciso and Hortensia Anillo. Having moved to Washington D.C. from Cuba via Madrid in 1962, Dr Anillo was a medical doctor while Hortensia worked for the Organization of American States. The cultural couple were key figures in the city's international social scene as well as patrons of the artistic community, championing local artists, many of whom became friends. Downing was close to the couple and the present work held a prominent place in the collectors' home for decades, after it was originally acquired to replace a damaged painting by Gene Davis. Davis also knew the couple, and the important documentary on the artist by Carl Colby was filmed at the Anillo's property.
Contacts
Thomas Downing (American, 1928-1985) Ring Eight 1969
Thomas Downing (American, 1928-1985) Ring Eight 1969
Thomas Downing (American, 1928-1985) Ring Eight 1969
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