Phillips announces highlights for first New York auction of 2020

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Phillips announces highlights for first New York auction of 2020
Ed Clark, Untitled (Acrylic #1) from the series Louisiana, 1978. Estimate: $200,000-300,000. Image courtesy of Phillips.

NEW YORK.- Phillips announces highlights from the first New York auction of 2020, New Now on Wednesday, 4 March. The sale will feature nearly 200 works spanning the 20th and 21st centuries, showcasing a wide breadth of creative output from large scale painting to intimate drawings that span multiple genres including figuration, still-life, and abstraction. Highlights include works by emerging artists alongside more established names such as Ebony G. Patterson, Jonathan Lyndon Chase, Noah Davis, and Jonathan Gardner, as well as Peter Halley, Ed Clark, Njideka Akunyi Crosby, and Alex Katz among others.

“I’m thrilled to present this extraordinary group of works from top artists in 20th century and contemporary art alongside emerging artists,” states Samuel Mansour, Head of New Now, New York. “The New Now sales have come to be viewed as a bellwether of the market and, on the heels of our record breaking sale in September, we are confident that the momentum will continue into 2020. We are pleased to present such a great selection of fresh to market material, including Ed Clark’s Untitled (Acrylic #1) from his Louisiana series and Ebony G. Patterson’s Untitled Species I, as well as iconic works by the likes of Julian Schnabel and Noah Davis who is currently showing at David Zwirner. New Now embodies a forward thinking approach to collecting that resonates with our clients and remains a key growth category for Phillips.”

Among the top lots of the sale is Ed Clark’s Untitled (Acrylic #1) from the Louisiana series of 1978. The work is the largest and one of the earliest paintings by Clark ever to come to auction. Employing his signature technique of translating a place into abstract form and color, Clark captures the beauty of returning to his home state of Louisiana. The canvas is comprised of three distinct sections – seemingly representative of the earth, air, and water of the Delta region – that also meld together, evoking the ways in which the Delta can seemingly be all three at once. This auction marks the first time that the work is being offered, after having been gifted by the artist to the present owner.

Two preparatory works on paper that explore themes of identity through intimacy and the black American experience will also be offered in March – Kerry James Marshall’s Preliminary Sketch for Black Painting, 2002, and Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s Untitled, 2011. In an effort to rectify the absence of black subjects in Western art history, these artists introduce new figures with intimate narratives and complex social motifs. In Marshall’s work, a precursor to his thought-provoking Black Painting, which is in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he displays a couple under the warmth of their covers. However, underlying this romantic scene, Marshall illustrates a December night in 1969 when Chicago Police invaded the home of the former chairman of Illinois’ Black Panther Party and subsequently murdered him and his pregnant wife. Unarmed and vulnerable, this couple represents the common mistreatment of black Americans – even in the most unlikely and secure of spaces.

Refusing to accept invisibility, Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s work readily showcases her own personal experience as a Nigerian immigrant living in America. The interior setting in Untitled, 2011, depicts the artist and her husband making love as her bolded black silhouette hovers over his abstracted white-skinned posterior. Parallel to Marshall’s persistence in carving out a place for black figures in art history, Crosby attempts to extinguish persisting and destructive stereotypes about African Americans. Through sensitive and personal representation, she encourages the education and understanding of different cultures.

Ebony G. Patterson’s Untitled Species I hails from her seminal Species series (2020-2011), which explores concepts such as the transformation of the body and gender through the lens of Jamaican dancehall culture. Untitled Species I presents a glitter-encrusted male portrait, investigating the ways in which young black men shape their identity within Jamaican culture. Patterson boldly references skin bleaching, a century-spanning fashion in Jamaica, as well as addresses ideas on gender norms with her use of glitter and rhinestones, in addition to the painted red lips and floral embellishments used. The painting has been exhibited at the Studio Museum and The Perez Art Museum.

Executed in 2016, Jonathan Lyndon Chase’s Untitled tackles his personal struggle to accept his identity as a queer black man in America. Chase’s figures are simple, beautiful and confrontational, exploring ways in which traditional notions of masculinity are being challenged and overturned. Chase’s compositions are comprised of black queer men that Chase incorporates to create a compositional fantasy informed by his own life experiences, pornography, books, social media, and dreams. The multi-limbed figure in his Untitled painting squats square up to the viewer but looking askance demanding to be recognized while refusing to present a definitive reading. Chase’s portraits challenge the viewer to reconsider the underlying systems that have been internalized as “established norms” by society for too long.

Jonathan Gardner’s Daisy, painted in 2014, pays homage to 20th century references, including surrealist absurdity and cubist deconstruction in a decidedly contemporary and engaging composition. Depicting an inverted female bust hovering over a singular potted flower, Daisy illustrates how Gardner melds the influences of his canonical predecessors to form his own imminently recognizable and stunning aesthetic. Drawing from such influences as Matisse’s cut-outs and Magritte’s distinct objects in surreal interiors, Daisy distorts the viewer’s perception of a narrative within the composition. His ability to synthesize a contemporary figurative aesthetic in the 21st century illustrates the persistent interest in the manner in which viewers (and an artist) perceive representational art and with it their own natural world.

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