Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Peter Doig

Peter Doig was born in Scotland in 1959, but he left there at the age of one and did much of his growing up in Canada and Trinidad. He launched his art career in London but moved back to Trinidad in 2002, and has lived there ever since. (Blotter, 1993)

Doig had a slow rise to the top of the art world, not really making it until the 1990s; his first big success was winning the Turner Prize in 1994. He really hit the big time in the mid 2000s. In 2007 this painting, White Canoe, sold at Sotheby's for $11.3 million, then a record for a living European artist.

Critics say that his paintings are "disorienting," their familiar subjects distorted through reflections, odd points of view, and his creative filters. The Architect's Home in the Ravine, which fetched $12 million in 2013. This seems to me a good example of the sort of filtering the critics are talking about, as the bare branches form a pattern like a badly cracked window.

Bomb Island, 2001. I love this, but then I have always had a weakness for island cities.

Jonathan Jones said about him: "Amid all the nonsense, impostors, rhetorical bullshit and sheer trash that pass for art in the 21st century, Doig is a jewel of genuine imagination, sincere work and humble creativity." Girl in White with Trees, 2001.

Grande Riviere, 2001


I am not sure I had ever even heard of Doig until this week, and I only discovered him because he is embroiled in a bizarre lawsuit. A certain retired reform school guard in Canada has a painting signed Pete Doige 76, which he says was sold to him for $100 by a kid who did it in a reform school art class. He now claims that this Pete Doige was the same person as the famous Peter Doig, which would make his painting worth millions, but Doig denies it. Based on the news accounts, it seems that the guard is wrong and that Peter Doige is a different person who died in 2012. But there are lots of weird coincidences. The guard says the painter had been jailed for using LSD, and Doig admits to using LSD as a Canadian teenager. The guard insists that the kid he remembers looked a lot like Doig. The painting actually looks kind of like Doig's work. Bizarre. I am not reproducing the painting here, because Doig will have enough trouble keeping it out of his oeuvre without my contributing to the mess. You can see it here.

And now back to real Doigs. Almost Grown, 2000.

Orange Sunshine.

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