“Full Blown” by Alexandra Luke

By: Gregory Humeniuk

Lot 9 – Alexandra Luke, OSA (1901-1967), FULL BLOWN, 1953. Oil on hardboard; signed lower right; signed and titled verso. 32 x 28 in — 81.3 x 71.1 cm. Estimate $10,000-$15,000

Titles of artworks can be categorical, descriptive, and/or evocative. Alexandra Luke’s Full Blown, a still life of flowers, emerges from an abstract composition and hovers on the edge of representation. The painting’s assertive oranges, whites, and yellows radiate from the hardboard support, full blown in energy and dynamism.

Akin to Luke’s breakthrough abstractions of the early 1950s such as the National Gallery of Canada’s Untitled, ca. 1951 (NGC no. 36833), Full Blown also shows the influence of Hans Hofmann (1880-1966) during her study at his summer school in Provincetown, Massachusetts, from 1947 to 1952. A proponent of both Abstract Expressionism and formalist painting, Hofmann was far more sensitive than he was dogmatic. In the 1940s he painted still lifes that, like Full Blown, are still lifes in name only.

In essence, Full Blown functions as an abstract painting. The white and orange heads of the flowers and green of the foliage and vase form a diagonal from lower left to upper right bisecting a background of brown madder, and yellow and green passages. Deftly using lessons from Hofmann, Luke composed a painting attached to the observable world by a tendril. The white, orange and greens of the diagonal pulse forward, while the background’s madder brown and mixtures of yellow and green recede. Importantly, parts of the diagonal recede and parts of the background pulse forward constantly engaging the eye and activating vision.

When Luke showed Full Blown in the 1953 exhibition of the Royal Canadian Academy of Art at the Art Gallery of Toronto, it was her first work shown there. In the spirit of the Group of Seven a quarter of a century earlier, Luke and her colleagues – including Jack Bush, Oscar Cahén, Kazuo Nakamura and William Ronald – banded together to form Painters Eleven in the fall of 1953 and held their first formal exhibition the next year.

Full Blown appears on the Canadian market for the first time in decades, possibly since its appearance at the RCA over 70 years ago. Consigned to Waddington’s by a private American collector, it was previously in the collection of the former Justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court Robert Gillespie and his wife.

About the auction

Our major spring auction of Canadian and International Fine Art, offered online from May 24-29, 2024, brings together exceptional artwork from around the world. We are pleased to present works by celebrated Canadian artists Cornelius Krieghoff, A.Y. Jackson, P.C. Sheppard, A.J. Casson, Bertram Booker, Alexandra Luke, Jean Paul Lemieux and Yves Gaucher as well as important First Nations artists Norval Morrisseau, Roy Thomas and Alex Janvier. International highlights include work by Jules Olitski, Karel Appel, Kwon Young-Woo, Norman Bluhm, Józef Bakoś, Léon Lhermitte and Montague Dawson.

View the online gallery and browse the downloadable digital catalogue for all the details.

Previews will be available at our Toronto gallery, located at 275 King Street East, Second Floor, Toronto:

 Thursday, May 23 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
 Friday, May 24 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
 Saturday, May 25 from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm
 Sunday, May 26 from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm
 Monday, May 27 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
 Tuesday, May 28 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Or by appointment.

Please contact us to find out more.

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