Lot 148: LYNETTE YIADOM-BOAKYE, “The Separate,” 2011 (oil on canvas, 160 x 200 cm, 63 x 78 3/4 inches). | Estimate £100,000-£150,000. Sold for £237,000 ($327,629) including fees. TOP TEN LOT: Ranked No. 5 in results
A NUMBER OF WORKS BY AFRICAN AMERICAN ARTISTS stood out at Phillips contemporary art sales in London last month. Most of the news focused on Mark Bradford’s “Helter Skelter I,” a monumental painting that sold for £8,671,500 British Pounds ($11,977,943) including fees, setting an artist record. Los Angeles-baed Bradford’s painting was featured in Phillips 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale on March 8, a groundbreaking auction that yielded the highest sales total in the company’s history (£97,845,050 British Pounds, $135,153,368)*, according to Phillips
“Helter Skelter I” was certainly the headliner in the evening sale, but there were other significant works sold and results worth noting. The first two lots that opened the sale were by black artists—“Bright Moments: For R.R. Kirk” by American experimental abstract painter Jack Whitten (1939-2018); and “Politics” by British painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, who is known for her imaginative, moody portraits.
“Helter Skelter I” was certainly the headliner in the evening sale, but there were other significant works by African American artists sold and results worth noting.
The day sale on March 9 featured “The Separate,” another work by Yiadom-Boakye. It sold for £237,000 British Pounds ($327,629), ranking among the top 5 lots in the auction. “Slow Walk #2,” colorful grid work by Stanley Whitney, painted in 2016, surpassed estimates, setting an artist record £87,500 British Pounds ($120,960). Also a successful overall auction, the March 9 event achieved the highest-ever total for a Phillips contemporary day sale in London.
The following is a selection of works by black artists featured across Phillips recent contemporary sales (Feb. 28 in New York; and March 8, March 9, and April 11 in London):
* Estimates do not reflect fees. Final sales results include fees
20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale, London, March 8, 2018
Lot 1: JACK WHITTEN, “Bright Moments: For R.R. Kirk,” 1995 (acrylic, coal and gold leaf on canvas, in artist’s frame, 127.3 x 106.7 cm, 50 1/8 x 42 inches). | Estimate £200,000-£300,000 British Pounds. Sold for £333,000 British Pounds ($459,973) including fees
The above painting by Jack Whitten pays tribute to Rahsaan Roland Kirk (1977), the blind jazz musician who played multiple instruments, including tenor sax, flute, and clarinet. Part of the artist’s Black Monolith series, the work takes its title from Kirk’s 1973 album, “Bright Moments.” Whitten talked about his connection with jazz and jazz musicians in a Brooklyn Rail interview with Jarrett Earnest published Feb. 1, 2017.
Earnest said, “…you yourself played tenor sax, and I’m wondering how you understand rhythm, time, and sequence in visual art as related to parallel concepts in sound or music.” At the conclusion of his response, Whitten said: “For me personally, being African-American and the jazz music coming out of that culture, and meeting all those early jazz musicians, I realize there is something unique in that experience connecting time and sound. I have to tell a lot of painters who say they are working with jazz, that they are only working with it as simplistic narrative notion; until they can connect with it in terms of light, colour and sound, they’re only skimming the surface of jazz.”
Lot 2: LYNETTE YIADOM-BOAKYE, “Politics,” 2005 (oil on canvas, 183 x 167.3 cm (72 x 65 7/8 inches). | Estimate £70,000-£90,000 British Pounds. Sold for £273,000 British Pounds ($377,095) including fees
Lot 14: MARK BRADFORD, “Helter Skelter I,” 2007 (mixed media collage on canvas, 144 x 407 7/8 inches). | Estimate £6,000,000 – £8,000,000 ($8.3 million – $11 million). Sold for £7,500,000 ($10,359,750) hammer price, £8,671,500 ($11,977,943) including fees. ARTIST RECORD
Shortly after the auction, The Broad in Los Angeles announced it had purchased Mark Bradford’s “Helter Skelter I.” The museum said it plans to place the monumental work on view soon in its collection galleries.
20th Century and Contemporary Art Day Sale, London, March 9, 2018
Lot 144: STANLEY WHITNEY, “Slow Walk No. #2,” 2016 (oil on linen, 121.9 x 121.9 cm, 48 x 48 inches). | Estimate £30,000-50,000 British Pounds. Sold for £87,500 British Pounds including fees. ARTIST RECORD
The consignor acquired this painting from Lisson Gallery in London, where it was exhibited in “Stanley Whitney: Radical Times” (May 20-July 2, 2016).
Lot 192: SAM GILLIAM, “All Colors Stacks,” 1996 (polypropylene and acrylic on wood with aluminium fasteners, 144.4 x 80.5 x 15 cm, 56 7/8 x 31 3/4 x 5 7/8 inches). | Estimate £10,000-£15,000 British Pounds. Sold for £37,500 British Pounds, including fees
Lot 193: THEASTER GATES, “Black Box II,” 2011 (wood, laminate, plastic and glass, 117.5 x 81 x 50.3 cm, 46 1/4 x 31 7/8 x 19 3/4 inches). | Estimate £20,000-£30,000 British Pounds. Sold for £21,250 British Pounds, including fees
Lot 196: LORNA SIMPSON, “Ultra Blue,” 2013 (collage and ink on paper, 74.9 x 54.9 cm, 29 1/2 x 21 5/8 inches). | Estimate £6,000-£8,000 British Pounds. Sold for £15,000 British Pounds, including fees
Lot 207: KARA WALKER, “Forging Freedoms,” 1996 (charcoal on cut paper, 142.2 x 121.9 cm, 55 7/8 x 47 7/8 inches). | Estimate £20,000- £30,000 British Pounds. Sold for £25,000 British Pounds, including fees
Lot 276: CHRIS OFILI, “Nude Study in Blue,” 2006 (oil on canvas, 50.5 x 40.5 cm, 19 7/8 x 15 7/8 inches). | Estimate £30,000-£50,000 British Pounds. UNSOLD
New Now, New York, Feb. 28, 2018
Lot 6: POPE.L, “Failure Drawing #2 Celebrate,” 2004-2010 (ink, acrylic, oilstick, ballpoint pen, marker, correction fluid, tape and hair on children’s stationery collage, 13 1/2 x 16 inches, 34.3 x 40.6 cm). | Estimate $4,000-$6,000. | Sold for $4,000, including fees
Lot 7: TONY LEWIS, “rando and/or andro,” 2013 (graphite, graphite powder and tape on 4 joined sheets of paper, 84 x 60 inches, 213.4 x 152.4 cm). | Estimate $30,000-$40,000. Sold for $40,000, including fees
Lot 15: HENRY TAYLOR, “Untitled,” 2008 (acrylic on card, 10 x 8 inches, 25.4 x 20.3 cm). | Estimate $5,000-$7,000. Sold for $11,250, including fees
Lot 72: KARA WALKER, “Untitled,” 1998 (cut paper on paper, 12 3/4 x 9 inches, 32.4 x 22.9 cm). | Estimate $10,000-$15,000. Sold for $21,250, including fees
Lot 157: RASHID JOHNSON, “The New Negro Escapist Social and Athletic Club (Dr. Minton),” (gelatin silver print, 43 5/8 x 35 3/8 inches, 110.8 x 89.9 cm). This work is number 1 from an edition of 3 plus 2 artist’s proofs. | Estimate $6,000-$8,000. Sold for $10,000 including fees
Lot 177: HUGO MCCLOUD, “Untitled,” 2014 (aluminum foil, aluminum coating and oil on tar, mounted to wood, 96 x 72 inches, 243.8 x 182.9 cm). | Estimate $12,000-$18,000. Sold for $17,500, including fees
New Now, London, April 11, 2018
Last week, Phillips New Now sale of contemporary art was another record-breaker, with the highest-ever sales result for a New Now auction in London. Among the top-priced lots, “Ballet God (Poseidon)” (2015), a sculpture by Yinka Shonibare, ranked No. 3 in the sale, reaching £100,000 British Pounds ($141,980). Meanwhile, an untitled mixed-media work on wood by Hugo McCloud, achieved an artist record, narrowly surpassing his previous high mark (£21,250 British Pounds set in 2016).
Lot 8: YINKA SHONIBARE, “Ballet God (Poseidon),” 2015 (fibreglass mannequin, dutch wax printed cotton, trident, dagger, globe, pointe shoes, beads, tutu and steel baseplate, in 5 parts, 209 x 221 x 90 cm, 82 1/4 x 87 x 35 3/8 inches). | Estimate £80,000-£120,000 British Pounds. Sold for £100,000 British Pounds ($141,980), including fees. TOP TEN LOT: Ranked No. 3 in results
Yinka Shonibare’s “Ballet God (Poseidon)” was featured in “Rage of the Ballet Gods” at James Cohan Gallery in New York City. According to Phillips, the sculpture “directly addresses the topic of climate change and the resulting human instinct for survival. The artist depicts the iconic Greek god of Poseidon, a symbol of strength and authority, embodied as a slender ballerina wearing a tutu and stretching into an arabesque. Appearing poised and serene at first glance, the present work belongs to the artist’s series of ballerina goddesses who are, in fact, dangerous, enraged with humanity’s continual destruction of the earth, wielding deadly weapons to smite mankind.
“Poseidon brandishes a dagger in one hand and the mythical god’s recognizable trident in the other; livid at their displacement, the gods are no longer in control of humanity’s fate. Whereas in Homer’s Odyssey, the figure of Poseidon punishes Odysseus with violent storms, preventing him from returning home to Ithaca, now Poseidon’s manipulation of the weather is no longer solely in her control. Science and myth collide in Shonibare’s examination of progress, creating a juxtaposition of the fantastic and the tangible.”
Lot 42: HUGO MCCLOUD, “Untitled,” 2014 (aluminium foil, aluminium coating and oil on tar mounted on wood, 213 x 162 cm, 83 7/8 x 63 3/4 inches). | Estimate £10,000-£15,000 British Pounds. Sold for £27,500 British Pounds ($39,045), including fees. ARTIST RECORD
Lot 88: CULLEN WASHINGTON JR., “Infinity,” 2013 (tape, acrylic, paper and canvas, 213.4 x 304.8 cm, 84 x 120 inches). | Estimate £4,000-£6,000 British Pounds. Sold for £5,250 British Pounds, including fees
Lot 161: ANDRES SERRANO, “The Church (St Clothilde V, Paris),” 1991 (Cibachrome print, in artist’s frame, 164.8 x 139 cm, 64 7/8 x 54 3/4 inches). This work is number 1 from an edition of 4. | Estimate £5,000-£7,000 British Pounds. Sold for £11,875 British Pounds, including fees
Lot 167: MICKALENE THOMAS, “Qusuquzah Standing Sideways,” 2012 (chromogenic print, 152.5 x 127 cm, 60 x 50 inches). this work is number 2 from an edition of 3. | Estimate £5,000-£7,000 British Pounds. Sold for £8,125 British Pounds, including fees
READ MORE about Artist Resale Royalties via this illustrated guide by Tiernan Morgan and Lauren Purje
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