Phillips announced today that it would lead its May sales in New York with three works by Mark Bradford being sold by the same collector. Taken together, the works are estimated at slightly more than $4m to nearly $7m. And they have a guarantee:
Jean-Paul Engelen, Phillips Worldwide Head of Contemporary Art, said, “Phillips is honored to have been entrusted with the sale of this collection, led by these three fantastic Mark Bradford paintings. In recent years, Bradford has emerged as one of the foremost contemporary artists of his generation. This powerful group of works not only demonstrates the artist’s tremendous technical skill, but also the depth of his subject matter. He’s truly a contemporary master.”
Bradford’s large-scale Building the Big White Whale (illustrated above, estimate: $3,000,000-5,000,000) is among the top lots of the evening sale. Born in 1961 and raised in Los Angeles’s Leimert Park neighborhood, Bradford spent a great deal of his youth working at his mother’s hair salon. The culture of his community and the social atmosphere of the salon are reflected in his canvases. Building the Big White Whale, 2012, uses the small paper pieces frequently associated with his iconic works. The materials in his work are often found in his childhood neighborhood, but Bradford makes the distinction that he’s “repurposing” these materials, not “recycling” them.
Both Building the Big White Whale and Mixed Signals (illustrated right, estimate: $1,000,000-1,500,000) trace a fictionalized map, a common technique in Bradford’s most recognizable works. Completed in 2009, Mixed Signalsn’ interplay of silver, black and red potentially alludes to a post-apocalyptic mapping of destruction.
The final work by Bradford from this collection is Untitled (Corner of Desire and Piety) III (illustrated left, estimate: $100,000-150,000). Executed in 2008, this painting was included in his seminal exhibition at the Aspen Art Museum in 2010. The work’s title refers to two parallel streets in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans and the difficult decisions many residents had to make following Hurricane Katrina. The work’s dense layering of reflective papers obscures the text and its literal meaning. Underscoring the importance of Untitled (Corner of Desire and Piety) III,nthe Broad Museum in Los Angeles acquired a 72-part example of the work for its permanent collection in 2009.