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A virtual presence has now become a vital transactional resource; auction house private sale platforms are adopting their own version of the primary market's online viewing room. For Phillips, the initiative to expand its digital segment, already underway, was expedited by the sudden impact of the pandemic. Last week, the house launched its new private sale viewing room to make available works by contemporary blue-chip names like Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst, Yayoi Kusama, KAWS and Lucian Freud.
Among the highest priced works on offer in Phillips' private sale is a work by conceptual artist and Macarthur genius grant winner David Hammons. His sought-after African American Flag, is one of the elusive artist's best known works. The asking price is between $1.5 to 2 million.
Absent from public life for much of his career, Hammons has been a crucial figure in contemporary cultural criticism since the 1970s. His practice has been dedicated to the subversion of ownership, and a resistance against the elitism of the white cube commercial art world. For decades, Hammons has rejected dealer representation and wielded curatorial autonomy over his own works.
The work on offer is Hammons version of the United States flag in Garvey colors: a tri-color scheme of green, black, and red, named after civil rights leader Marcus Garvey and founder of the UNIA in 1920, who first used the flag as an emblem of pan-African lineage. Hammons produced the first flag in an edition of five for his seminal 1990 exhibition Black USA at Amsterdam’s Museum Overholland. The show—– the first major European exhibition centered exclusively around African American Artists—was a group exhibition which included pioneering black artists like Martin Puryear and Romare Bearden.
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