Phillips announces highlights from New York Day Sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art

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Phillips announces highlights from New York Day Sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art
Robert Indiana, Picasso, 1974 Estimate: $600,000 - 800,000. Image courtesy of Phillips.

NEW YORK, NY.- On the heels of Phillips’ strongest-ever sales last Fall, Phillips announced highlights from the Spring New York Day Sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art. From household names like Jean-Michel Basquiat, John Chamberlain, and Louise Bourgeois to contemporary artists such as Shara Hughes, Jonas Wood and Flora Yukhnovich, the Day Sales have become a highlight of the auction calendar. Taking place on 19 May and featuring nearly 250 lots, the sale showcases a wide range of works across a multitude of mediums. From Robert Indiana’s Picasso painting from 1974 to Jaume Plensa’s tour-de-force sculpture The Conversation I, II and III, 2006, to a group of masterworks on paper by Gerhard Richter, the Morning and Afternoon sessions highlight the continued growth and popularity of the modern and contemporary market.

Annie Dolan and Patrizia Koenig, Co-Heads of the Day Sale of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, said, “In recent years, two sectors of the market that have seen extraordinary growth are the middle market for modern and contemporary art, along with the market for emerging artists. Our May Day Sale offers a strong selection across both categories, creating connections between art historical movements of the past and present. The sale features exceptional works by 20th Century pioneers like Norman Lewis and Robert Indiana alongside those of artists forging their careers, like Issy Wood and Felipe Baeza. We’re also honored to work with a selection of renowned private collectors this season, including Academy Award nominated actor Josh Brolin, who has entrusted us with the sale of George Condo’s Untitled, 2007, as well as the esteemed Over Holland Collection’s important works by Gerhard Richter, which will kick off the Morning Session of the sale. We look forward to welcoming our community of collectors into the exhibition and sale at 432 Park Ave.”

Morning Session

Two major works by Robert Indiana lead the Morning Session of the Day Sale, including the 1974 hard-edged painting Picasso and a six-foot-tall LOVE sculpture. These come to auction concurrent with the United Kingdom’s first major Robert Indiana survey, which opened in March at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Picasso pays homage to the eponymous Modern artist in Indiana’s signature Pop style, with bold colors, stencilled lettering, and a symmetrical composition—a perfect melding of Modern and Post-War in a single image. LOVE (Violet Faces Red Sides) boasts monumental scale, representing one of the most universal symbols in the Pop Art, and Post-War at large, canon.

The Morning Session also presents a wonderful selection of Abstract Expressionist works from an American Collector led by a large-format spray painting by David Smith, and early works by Theodoros Stamos and Adolph Gottlieb.

Following suit in the world of abstract art are eight works on paper by Gerhard Richter from the esteemed Over Holland Collection, seven of which were included in the historic 1987 exhibition at the Museum Overholland, the first exhibition exclusively dedicated to the artist’s works on paper.

Another top lot of the sale is one of Norman Lewis’ late Black Paintings, Eye of the Storm, a stunning seven-footwide canvas from 1973. Seamlessly integrated into a black paint ground are royal blue passages with etched lines resembling a radar map, showcasing Lewis’ subtle handling of color. As the only African American artist to be included at the historic symposium at Studio 35 in 1950 where Abstract Expressionism was coined, Lewis is one of the most important painters of the late 20th century.

Other highlights of the sale include a Jean Michel-Basquiat work on paper from 1987, a large-scale John Chamberlain sculpture titled The Vagabond’s Prayer coming from an Important New York Estate, a John Baldessari diptych from 1990, and a stunning example of Cy Twombly’s Rome drawings, Untitled (Cairo). Also included are two large scale Sam Gilliam paintings, including an elegant 1997 draped canvas work, as well as a 1975 diptych belonging to the artist’s minimalist White Paintings.

Recently highlighted in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Surrealism Beyond Borders exhibition and now in the Venice Biennale’s main exhibition The Milk of Dreams, Alice Rahon is also represented in the Morning Session with two paintings from 1944 and 1952. Select artists included in the Afternoon Session are also showcased at the Venice Biennale including Tishan Hsu, Felipe Baeza, Belkis Ayón, Louise Bonnet, Firelei Báez, among others.

Afternoon Session

The Afternoon Session is led by Jaume Plensa’s tour-de-force sculpture The Conversation I, II and III from 2006. Plensa is considered as one of the world’s foremost sculptors in the public realm and has here created a powerful work that features three faceless figures, crouched in communion atop large stone slabs, with their “skins” composed of letters from the Latin alphabet. The Conversation I, II and III belongs to the discrete body of work that encompasses I, You, She or He, 2006, held in the permanent collection of the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in
Grand Rapids, Michigan and Yorkshire Soul I, II and III, 2010, which was exhibited at Yorkshire Sculpture Park in Wakefield in 2011.

Joining the sale from the Collection of Josh Brolin is George Condo’s Untitled, 2007, a remarkable example of the artist’s unique approach to portraiture. Layering a multitude of mediums, the artist fluently works line, form and color into a multi-facetted portrait that brims with an explosive energy–revealing Condo’s undeniable virtuosity as both a draftsman and painter.

Another top lot is Sean Scully’s Shadowing, 1984, an early example of the artist’s multi-panel, striped paintings, examples of which reside in such collections as the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Distilling the expressive potential of abstraction, the beautifully painted bands of lush color reveal Scully’s admiration for Mark Rothko, particularly the way in which color can capture light and darkness, distilling the most existential aspects of the human condition. Shadowing was notably exhibited in the artist’s major solo exhibition at the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo in 2015.

Additional highlights include a 1986 painting by Scott Kahn, an exquisite landscape by Shara Hughes and Urs Fischer’s monumental Magnesium from 2015. Coinciding with the artist’s inclusion in the Whitney Biennial, the offering of Denyse Thomasos’ Spin, 1997, marks an important occasion to acquire a work by the late artist whose practice has remained relatively underrecognized up until now.

The Afternoon Session will feature a number of highly anticipated auction debuts by artists such as Cornelius Annor, Ludovic Nkoth, Bony Ramirez, Dominique Fung, as well as Katherina Olschbaur, whose work is being sold with a portion of the proceeds sale benefitting the artist residency program Black Rock Senegal.

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