Phillips announces highlights from the New York sales of 20th Century & Contemporary Art

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Phillips announces highlights from the New York sales of 20th Century & Contemporary Art
Pierre Bonnard, Panier de fruit, circa 1946. Estimate: $2,000,000 - 3,000,000. Image courtesy of Phillips.

NEW YORK, NY.- Phillips announced further highlights from the Evening and Day Sales of 20th Century & Contemporary Art. Comprised of some of the finest work by masters of Impressionism, Post-War, and Contemporary Art, these auctions will include works by Francis Bacon, Georgia O’Keeffe, Pierre Bonnard, Joan Mitchell, and Amy Sherald, among others. The Evening Sale will include 48 lots and take place on 17 November at 7pm EST, followed by the Day Sale of 277 lots on 18 November at 10am and 2pm EST.

Jean-Paul Engelen and Robert Manley, Deputy Chairmen and Worldwide Co-Heads of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, said, “We’re thrilled to welcome our community back into the auction room for the first Evening Sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art to feature in-person bidding at our new headquarters. Following on the heels of our extraordinary sales in London, we are proud to present such a strong and vibrant selection of works this November across the Evening and Day Sales. Presenting a tremendous group of artists who are newer to the secondary market alongside post-war and contemporary masters, collectors will have an opportunity to acquire some truly fresh-to-market artworks. In our Evening Sale, 75% of the lots have never been offered publicly and we are delighted to debut them at our new home in 432 Park Avenue.”


Leading the Evening Sale is Francis Bacon’s ‘Pope with Owls’, an extraordinary work created during the artist’s important time spent in Morocco. Executed circa 1958, the work arrives for the first time at auction with an estimate of $35-45 million, having been held in the same prestigious private American collection for nearly four decades.

A seminal work from her Hawaii series with exceptional provenance, Georgia O’Keeffe’s Crab’s Claw Ginger Hawaii will also be included in the Evening Sale, marking the first time the painting has appeared at auction. The work is the most significant of O’Keeffe’s Hawaii pictures to appear at auction in three decades and the first to be offered in a Phillips Evening Sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art.

Also among the earlier 20th century works in the Evening Sale is Pierre Bonnard’s Panier de fruit, which holds a storied provenance including Henri Matisse and his son, Pierre Matisse. An outstanding example of Bonnard’s late still lifes, the work captures the ultimate technical endeavors of the artist’s career and the culmination of Bonnard’s lifelong fascination with color, expression, and visual perception.

Painted in 1992, the final year of Joan Mitchell’s celebrated career, Untitled is a ravishing embodiment of the remarkable vitality of the artist’s late paintings. Visually encapsulating the entire course of her oeuvre, the work showcases Mitchell’s mature sensibility of coalescing the disparate influences through her life that shaped her own singular painterly language with unprecedented liberation. The present work masterfully demonstrates the deep influence of pastel on Mitchell’s painterly practice and its forceful manifestations on her final canvases, showcasing the artist’s virtuosic, vigorous handling along with her fearlessness with color that embodied her vital drive to ambitiously paint above all through a kind of passionate elegy.

Executed in 1986, The Last Supper/Be a Somebody with a Body is a magnum opus of Andy Warhol’s continued investigations on his final and most comprehensive series that ultimately coalesces his lifelong concerns with the human body and the pursuit of beauty. Juxtaposing the figure of Christ with the image of a bodybuilder frequently rendered in his oeuvre, the work exemplifies a striking extension of Warhol’s epic series whilst self-referencing his own imagery with dual force.

Among the sale’s contemporary highlights is Amy Sherald’s Welfare Queen. Painted in 2012, the work is emblematic of Sherald’s signature style that oscillates between reality and fantasy. Welfare Queen is a powerful manifestation of Sherald’s interest in transforming historical representations of the Black community into modern visions of beauty and agency.

Painted in 2007, Cecily Brown’s Untitled is a stunning example of the artist’s highly acclaimed practice which functions at the cusp between abstraction and figuration, past and present, paint and flesh. Engulfing the viewer into a sumptuous field of fervid gestural brushstrokes, the present work expresses Brown’s sensibility of channeling the Old and Modern Masters of the art historical canon under her painterly hand to form a singular visual language that is entirely her own.

Following on their success in the London auctions, the New York Evening and Day Sales will both feature a selection of works from Maximiliana: Max Ernst from the Collection of Peter Schamoni. Through his close friendship with Ernst, renowned film director and screenwriter Peter Schamoni assembled an exceptional collection that serves as a lasting memento of one of the most significant artists of the 20th century.

The Evening and Day Sales will offer Surfing USA: A Selection of Works by Raymond Pettibon. Leading the group of three works is No Title (Let him come), 2011, a definitive example of the artist’s most well-known Surfer series, which spans eight feet in width. Demonstrating his virtuosic graphic handling, the work also features his signature interplay between image and text. Conjuring the sublime of nature and man’s seeming conquest, Pettibon displays the hand of a draughtsman crossed with a scribe’s knack for language, striding between lyrical wit and irony, historical reflection, and contemporary consumer culture. Further artworks from the group will be offered in Hong Kong later this month.

Painted between 1961 and 1962, Ice Box #3 belongs to Peter Saul’s highly coveted eponymous series comprising just ten works created from 1960 to 1963. Presenting an action-packed composition within the seemingly banal subject of a refrigerator, the present work derives from a groundbreaking chapter in the artist’s acclaimed oeuvre that marked his singular aesthetic of fusing Pop, Surrealism, and Abstract Expressionism to pioneer his unique visual language. Deriving inspiration from American comic books and magazine, Saul ultimately found his wildly inventive idiom in the icebox, incorporating symbols of American consumer culture such as mass-produced goods into explosive scenes containing at once the humorous and macabre. Coalescing the technical tenets of Abstract Expressionism with the absurdist sensibility of Surrealism and the anticipation of Pop Art into a single composition, Ice Box #3 showcases an ambitious display of Saul’s maverick practice.

Exemplifying Bruce Nauman’s preoccupations with theme of the human body throughout his extensive oeuvre, Untitled (from Fifteen Pairs of Hands) is a striking iteration of the artist’s acclaimed titular series that featured at the Venice Biennale in 2009. Executed in 1996, the sculpture encapsulates Nauman’s frequent practice of employing his own body in his lifelong investigations of self-exploration and corporeal communication. Timeless in subject matter, the work personifies the human condition in its disembodiment, both attesting to the power of nonverbal communication and celebrating the foundational tools of artistic creation.

Painted 1968, Barkley L. Hendricks’s FTA is a definitive early example of the artist’s celebrated singular portrait aesthetic that would go on to define his output in the 1970s. A vibrant green monochromatic ground acts as the backdrop for his bust portrait of a U.S. Army soldier dressed in a military green, Vietnam-era uniform, who Hendricks positions as a Lieutenant—a position hardly offered to African American soldiers at the time. “FTA” was a common troop expression subverting the army’s slogan of “Fun, Travel and Adventure,” which later became adopted by vocal anti-war activists who imbued it with new meaning — "Fuck the Army." The work hails from a distinguished New England collection and is being sold publicly for the first time to benefit the pursuit of anti-racism.

Presenting two majestic cheetahs guarding a surreal desert landscape of nude female bodies, Emily Mae Smith’s singular Feast and Famine has become an iconic image within the artist’s acclaimed oeuvre since its creation. Smith’s works excavate the deeply rooted patriarchal iconographies of the Western canon, transforming them into ingenious metaphors that comment on the history of gender and sexuality in visual culture. The mirrored words “FEAST” and “FAMINE” showcase Smith’s usage of textual quips as a compositional device that are at once terse and loaded with meaning, and the work offers an extraordinary rendition of the artist’s signature motifs.


The Day Sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art will be hosted in two sessions on Thursday, 18 November. The Morning Session of the Day Sale is led by a large-scale Frank Stella from his Polish Village series, titled Jarmolince III. This work was included in the artist’s monumental, traveling retrospective, organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2015, among other notable exhibitions.

An important group of Modern bronzes by Auguste Rodin, Aristide Maillol and Henry Moore will be among the Morning session’s highlights, led by Rodin’s Les trois ombres coming from an important Japanese collection. The first example from the edition to come up at auction in over two decades, this sculpture is one of Rodin’s most iconic forms—an enlarged version of the three figures that crown the lintel of the famed Gates of Hell.

Marcel Duchamp’s De ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rose Sélavy (La Boîte-en-valise), series B, will also be on offer in the Morning Session. Conceived in 1935-1941 and assembled in 1952, it is one of less than 35 examples that include the original valise.

Large-scale outdoor sculptures by Anthony Caro and Bernar Venet and indoor sculptures by Robert Indiana, Louise Bourgeois and Anne Truitt also feature prominently. Truitt’s Spring Dryad comes from the Collection of Jean Efron. Truitt made four Dryad sculptures between 1971 and 1975, each titled after a season, two of which are in American museum collections – the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C. and the Boca Raton Museum of Art.

The Afternoon Session will be led by a George Condo portrait from 2008, titled Smiling Young Woman. The sale also features Damien Hirst’s Loperamide, an excellent example from the British artist’s Pharmaceutical paintings, the first and most acclaimed group of the thirteen sub-series within the artist’s renowned Spot Paintings series. Additional top highlights from the Afternoon Session include a unique Tony Cragg sculpture titled Runner from 2011, Günther Förg’s large-scale Untitled from 1990, and an iconic John Baldessari work featuring his signature color blocked figures, coming from an Important New York Estate.

Other top lots include Vaughn Spann’s The Golden Rule, the first large format work from the artist’s Marked Man series to come to auction, a luminous Stanley Whitney painting from his Stay Song series, and a dynamic drawing from Julie Mehretu on the heels of her acclaimed mid-career retrospective.

Exciting cutting-edge artists including Cinga Samson, Portia Zvavahera, Jamian-Juliano Villani, Emily Mae Smith, Alex Gardner, Angel Otero, Rebecca Ness, Anna Weyant, Vaugh Spann, and Amani Lewis will also be featured. And Phillips is proud to mark the auction debuts for a number of artists, including Tyler Ballon, Jerrell Gibbs, Hiejin Yoo, and Ben Sledsens.

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