Untitled (Still Life)
signed and dated ‘Yektai 68’ (lower right)
oil on canvas
40 x 5018in. (101.5 x 127.2cm.)
Painted in 1968
Private Collection, New York.
Private Collection (acquired circa 1968).
Private Collector, Mexico.
Anon. sale, Christie’s London, 23 October 2019, lot 83.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
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Lot Essay

Manoucher Yektai was one of the foremost artists of the New York School in the 20th century, becoming an internationally sought after name for his abstracted style with heavy impasto. Emigrating from Iran to New York in 1948, the artist integrated his artistic training across Tehran, Paris and ultimately New York to be recognized as a founding member of the New York School of Abstract Expressionism.

Yektai’s works during the 1950s and 1960s were characterised by a reinvestigation of the still life, such as the present work, while simultaneously highlighting the notion of space within the canvas. Working on his paintings from the floor, this feature led to the visual dynamism and free range of motion within his compositions that are met with rhythmic dexterity. Yektai created a new painterly language that he achieved by distancing himself from the complete abstraction. While his still lives are his most sought after works, Yektai has also produced figures, portraits and landscapes.

Studying at the École des Beaux-Arts and at the Atelier of André Lhote in Paris, Yektai then went on to study at the Art Students League of New York with Robert Hale. Finding himself in New York following the end of the Second World War, he was readily engaged with New York School artists, and gained the admiration of the renowned gallerist Leo Castelli in 1952 who escalated his talent alongside Modernist painters such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Paul Newman and Franz Kline.

The artist has held solo exhibitions with Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York; Poindexter Gallery, New York; Picadilly Gallery, London; Elaine Benson Gallery, Bridgehampton, New York; Galerie Zand, Tehran; Alex Rosenberg Gallery, New York, and Karma Gallery, New York, alongside group shows the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Birmingham Museum, Birmingham; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC; Asia Society, New York; SFMOMA, San Francisco, among others.

Yektai’s work can be found in private and public collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington; Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit; Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings; Guild Hall, East Hampton and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco.

Alongside his paintings, Yektai was also noted for his poetry, publishing numerous compilations of his works and longer form of epic poems in Persian tradition that would later be performed as plays in Iran and also the US.

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