A Mary Weatherford painting from among her early neons is one of the highlights of Phillips’s New Now sales that will coincide with the ADAA Art Show and The Armory Show in the coming weeks. The Feb 27th auction focuses on Contemporary art where the house has an historic advantage as the maker of markets for many emerging talents. Weatherford’s auction history has begun to gain traction with another example from the 2012 neon works selling in London last October. Varick St. (2012) was offered at Christie’s with a £250-350k estimate range and made a solid £344k selling price. Varick St. was no stranger to the podium. Three years earlier it changed hands in New York at Sotheby’s for $237.5k in a May day sale , giving the consignor a half-decent profit.
That was followed by Pico Rivera (2013) making $372.5k in a November day sale at Christie’s. Now Phillips has put an attractive $250k low estimate on Truxton and we’ll get a better sense of how deep the demand is for these works:
“Phillips’ New Now auctions have become a staple of the auction season, with collectors all over the globe eager to acquire works by both established and emerging artists alike,” said Samuel Mansour, Head of New Now Sales, New York. “This season, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to present an exceptional group of works, with some examples that are are solidly and deservedly established within in the art historical canon, such as Jenny Holzer’s Truisms and Andy Warhol’s Toy Paintings, as well some that serve as a new and exciting opportunity for collectors.
After Phillips introduced Awol Erizku to the secondary market in 2017 with his photography, this auction will mark the first time that one of his paintings is being offered at auction, along with other first timers, such as Caitlin Keogh and Louisa Gagliardi.
Leading the auction is Mary Weatherford’s Truxtun. Arresting and color-driven, this work belongs to The Bakersfield Project, Weatherford’s most celebrated series of neon paintings inspired by her experiences within the uniqueness of city landscapes. Throughout this series, Weatherford utilized diluted Flashe paint to create a translucent effect that forms a gradient of richness in hue, integrating her mixed media to create a harmonization of color. Elevating this subdued aesthetic, two delicate bands of neon stretch across the canvas and beam above the color field with an eye-catching illumination that adds depth and vigor. Further highlighting this element, Weatherford showcases the transformer and power cords as an essential part of the piece. She rejects hiding these elements for aesthetic purposes and rather drapes them elegantly over the canvas as an intentional compositional element. Executed in 2012, Truxtun is one of the first to feature the neon rods that were a career-altering experimentation for the artist and have been featured in her work ever since.
Jenny Holzer’s Truisms: All things are delicately interconnected…, a stone bench from the artist’s provocative series, executed in 1987, will also be featured among the highlights. Standing authoritatively, this work expertly embodies Jenny Holzer’s artistic practice. Shortly after moving to New York City, Holzer worked nearly exclusively on her acclaimed Truisms series from 1977-1979, marking a turning point in the artist’s career. This body of work is a conglomeration of blunt stream-of-consciousness declarations that touch upon an array of themes such as feminism, violence, oppression, and vulnerability. Candidly professed from an anonymous and universal perspective, the artist’s Truisms poetically reveal one’s most intimate, and at times irreverent, thoughts. The present lot features a selection of Truisms that cover the entirety of the object allowing viewers to meander around and absorb the piece in its unique totality.
Andy Warhol’s Rollover Mouse from his series Toy Paintings is an outstanding example of the artist’s preoccupation with commercialism and animation, as well as his fascination with the universality of toys and their ability to transcend age and nationality. Created in 1983, this painting is part of the artist’s later body of work that witnessed a resurgence of his energetic and colorful canvases. Zurich gallerist Bruno Bischofberger, who hosted one of the most significant Pop-Art shows in Europe in 1965, later requested a series of work conducive for children and bought the resulting 100-work compilation with London gallerist Fabian Carlsson. These works were then displayed in Bischofberger’s gallery, hung at children’s eye level in an installation that resembled a shiny and whimsical toy store. Serving as a more child-oriented expression of Warhol’s acclaimed advertising motifs of Brillo and Mott’s boxes from the 1960s, his Toy Paintings series embodies the same consumerist spirit.
Untitled (The World Stage: Brazil), 2012, by Kehinde Wiley captures two subjects, wearing contemporary urban attire, rendered in a photo‐realistic style set against and contrasted with a decorative floral background. Wiley’s subjects typically derive, however, from “street casting” people he encounters in Harlem. Culling from a wide range of art historical sources, Wiley captures these young African American men assuming poses that connote the canonical works of Holbein, Titian, Velázquez, David, and Ingres. Wiley inserts these brilliantly rendered compositions within a lineage of traditional portraiture while also drawing attention to the absence of African Americans from cultural and historical narratives. The present lot exemplifies Wiley’s unmatched compositional instinct and ability to deliver layers of visual and conceptual gravity that simultaneously coalesce and collide.