Phillips' New Now Sale features dynamic works spanning emerging and established artists

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Phillips' New Now Sale features dynamic works spanning emerging and established artists
KAWS, GONE AND BEYOND. Acrylic on canvas, 40" diameter, 2012. Estimate $120,000 — 180,000.

NEW YORK, NY.- On 28 September, Phillips New York will kick off its live auction season with the ever-anticipated New Now sale. Featuring 260 lots, the sale will appeal to new and seasoned collectors alike, featuring works by auction newcomers Tammy Nguyen, Ana Benaroya, and 13 other debut artists, alongside established names like Yayoi Kusama, Katharina Grosse, and Jim Dine.

Avery Semjen, Head of New Now, New York, said, “Phillips’ New Now sales have become a mainstay of the auction world over the last several years, being regarded as a barometer for the health of the market at large. We are delighted to present such a strong September sale, as we welcome collectors back into our galleries and continue our momentum from the spring forward. After setting a new auction record for the artist in May, we are proud to offer Yayoi Kusama’s Hat as the star lot of the sale, embodying the best features of her iconic oeuvre. The work will be presented alongside an impressive array of works spanning nearly 70 years, highlighting exceptional works of post-war and contemporary art.”

Leading the sale is Yayoi Kusama’s Hat, painted in 1990. Belonging to an important series created from the 1980s to the 1990s, Hat highlights themes of social class using the artist’s iconic motifs of dots and nets. Kusama’s choice of a hat as her subject matter stems from the rich cultural background of the accessory popularized in Japan by foreign influences at the end of the nineteenth century. Combining her affinity for fashion with her most acclaimed painterly hallmarks, Hat thus reflects the impressive range of Kusama’s interdisciplinary career.

Joining other established artists in the sale is Katharina Grosse’s Untitled, 2003, an iconic example of the artist’s abstract expressionist style. With its energetic swathes of deep reds and jewel-toned greens, the work conveys a dreamscape of dripping forms. Grosse’s 2022 installation titled “Apollo, Apollo” at the Venice Biennale most recently reaffirmed her status as at the forefront of the contemporary abstract expressionist movement.

Painted in 2012, GONE AND BEYOND A-2 is a prime example of KAWS’ Pop-inspired practice that reinvigorates appropriated cartoon imagery in a fine art context. Belonging to an eponymous series of 27 tondo compositions begun in 2010, the present work presents a radically cropped perspective of one of the artist’s most iconic motifs, KAWSBOB. GONE AND BEYOND A-2 was created for and first featured in KAWS’ 2012 survey at the High Museum in Atlanta—the largest exhibition for the artist at that time.

As one of the many sculptures seen throughout New Now, Jim Dine’s reference to the Venus de Milo, one of the most widely circulated art historical figures and hailed for her unique beauty, is one of the artist’s most iconic subjects. Hailed as one of the leading figures within the Pop art movement, Dine is known for his repetition. By positioning two figures of the Venus de Milo next to one another in Night Fields, Day Fields, 1999, Dine references the ubiquitous nature of the popularized Greek sculpture.

Louis Fratino’s Grapefruit Breakfast is a sumptuous example of the artist’s devotion to the themes of queerness, intimate comfort, and sweet languor. The work’s bowed linework and flattened depth recalls cubist and modernist techniques of representation. Painted in 2017 and exhibited at the artist’s second solo exhibition in the same year at Thierry Goldberg in New York, Grapefruit Breakfast is an homage to a couple’s shared sense of home.

Auction debut for artist Ana Benaroya, Be My Baby, 2019, pays homage to strong women and their unique appearances. The work depicts three female figures with muscular limbs, exaggerated features, outstretched hands and flowing, blonde hair. The subject matter challenges the viewer, encouraging them to question where their bodies begin and end. Concerned with the lack of depictions of women who do not conform to the traditional standards of femininity in art history, Benaroya’s larger than life women are dominant and assertive rather than submissive and shy, presenting the viewer with a new way of looking at women in art. In reference to the Ronettes’ 1963 hit of the same name, Be My Baby is a gesture of love.

Fresh to the scene, Louise Giovanelli’s Stele, 2020, excites with shimmering and luminescent scenes closely cropped on particular details of a larger source, be it a film still, Old Masters painting, or a staged photograph. Here, the artist crops traditional architectural features of decorative, floral motifs so that they become removed from the context of the physical object the title of the painting connotes. As her auction debut, and coinciding with her first solo show at White Cube, this work demonstrates Giovanelli’s ability to access her influences, from Flemish Northern renaissance painters to pop stars, while playing with the classical and formal qualities of Western art.

Another artist debut comes from Tammy Nguyen’s Upside Down and Eating, 2018, is a part of the artist’s One Blue Eye, Two Servings series first exhibited at Crush Curatorial, New York, in 2018. Combining elements of Greek mythology, stereotypes, and the Southeast Asian histories, the present work engages with the story of Polyphemus on a personal level. Tammy Nguyen received her MFA in painting and printmaking from Yale in 2007 and has since exhibited her work on a global scale.

Hugh Steers has recently experienced market success decades after his death from AIDS-related complications in 1995. His work T-Shirt and Panties, painted in 1993, is an exquisite example of the artist’s exploration of identity, sexuality, and isolation. The poignant picture utilizes a warm color, soft light, and painterly brushstrokes to evoke the serene intimacy of this private moment in the figure’s bedroom.

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