UNTITLED 99 U 59, 1999

Important Australian + International Fine Art
21 April 2021


born 1958
UNTITLED 99 U 59, 1999

oil on canvas

180.0 x 160.0 cm

signed, dated and inscribed verso: Maguire ’99 / 99 U 59

$50,000 – 65,000
Sold for $58,909 (inc. BP) in Auction 64 - 21 April 2021, Melbourne

Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne (label attached verso)
Private collection
Christie’s, Melbourne, 6 May 2003, lot 13
Peter Greenham, Melbourne
The Estate of Peter Greenham, Melbourne


Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne, April 2000, cat. 6

Catalogue text

The goal for a serious painter today is to make work that is simultaneously embedded in the tradition of painting whilst engaging with the contemporary world. This Maguire does.’1

With its sheer beauty and theatrical grandeur, Untitled 99 U 59 exemplifies well the sensuous, magnified fruit and floral bloom paintings for which Australian contemporary artist Tim Maguire has become internationally renowned. Inspired by Dutch still life painting of the seventeenth century, such works are celebrated not only for their presence of scale and intriguing surreal quality but equally, for their enduring preoccupation with the physical act of painting itself.

Highly skilful and unique, Maguire's technique is distinguished by an abiding engagement with the dichotomy between production and reproduction, between the painterly and the photographic potential of the canvas surface. Applying onto white canvas layers of transparent glazes which are then stripped back with droplets of solvent, Maguire thus creates an illusion of texture which - rather than preserve the thoughts and gestures of the artist - remains remarkably detached, even self-effacing. Indeed, there is no real sense of brush to canvas, an ambiguity further enhanced by the illusionistic nature and cropping of the image which unmistakably recalls photographic processes.

That the marks of erased paint in the present work bear little relationship to the form of the fruit further substantiates the argument of critics that the subject of Maguire's work is not its figurative content. As one commentator suggests, 'capturing the moment when the magic of the image collapses into the materiality of the brushstroke, the real subject of his paintings is painting itself.’2 Such also accords with the artist's own recollection of his relationship to the source of inspiration: 'the further away I got from the original image, the more scope there was for painterliness and asserting the materiality of the process, which was the whole point of the exercise.’3

1. Godfrey, T., 'Skin, Light and Beauty' in Tim Maguire, Piper Press, Sydney, 2007, p. 28
2. Tim Maguire, ibid. dustjacket
3. Maguire cited in ''What is it 'as it really is'? Tim Maguire in conversation with Jonathan Watkins' in Tim Maguire, ibid., p. 72