S.I.T.A. Camion 264/X Gris (1987)
Born in Lübeck, Germany in 1935, Klasen studied at the Art Academy of Berlin in the late 1950s when Art Informel defined postwar European art. But the artist sought a new direction because, as he notes, “everything had been said, and well said” in the style of European abstraction. He moved to Paris in 1959 and became an early proponent of La Nouvelle Figuration, which, like Pop in the United States, favored a return to figurative and representational art. Similar to his American counterpart James Rosenquist, but with dollop of Dada-like cynicism, Klasen became known for contrasted imagery in his paintings, particularly juxtaposing women with industrial machinery and consumer appliances. This 1970s work is from a series in which the artist focused on the mechanical details of trucks, train cars and other vessels and containers. In the vernacular of Photorealism, Klasen breaks down the subject into a carefully composed formalist painting, with little direct reference to the truck or car save, perhaps, a hint in the painting’s title.
20th Century Art: Capsule Gallery Auction: May 10, 2018: Lot 34
Peter Klasen S.I.T.A. Camion 264/X Gris (1987)
The title of this canvas indicates that the sleek tubes and cranks belong to a dump truck from France’s sanitation department (SITA). The brightly colored signs on the truck are visually welcomed flourishes in the nearly monochrome metallic palette, but they also are warnings of danger and toxicity. The artist, who one critic called a “visionary of urban disease,” is conflicted about humanity’s technological and industrial progress: “Noticing objects in our environment, removing their functionality, and translating them through painting, I developed an antibody language that resists the constant aggression exerted on me by my surroundings