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Phillips announces highlights from the upcoming New Now auction
Yayoi Kusama, Butterfly. Painted in 1982. 14 7/8 x 17 7/8 in. (38 x 45.5 cm.) acrylic on canvas. Estimate: $180,000 – 250,000. Image courtesy of Phillips.

NEW YORK, NY.- Phillips announced highlights from the upcoming New Now auction on Wednesday, 26 September. The sale, which is known for placing emerging artists alongside those with established careers, has become a staple of the auction calendar. Highlights include works by Urs Fischer, Yayoi Kusama, George Condo, KAWS, and Cindy Sherman, among others. With over 250 lots on offer, the auction is expected to realize in excess of $5 million.

Leading the sale is Urs Fischer’s Salt, Sandra. Executed in 2010, this work is a perfect example of Fischer’s dissected, three-dimensional image/sculpture, which challenges the viewer’s perception of the traditional scopes of sculpture and photography. Salt/Sandra features four large-scale stainless steel structures with printed images of a fox mask and a chair. Fischer has reproduced the chair approximately life-size, while enlarging the fox mask to an unrealistic scale, establishing a dialogue between fiction and reality. As the viewer walks through the installation, he or she confronts these three-dimensional object-images, discovering their un-reality and dysfunctionality and simultaneously highly mimetic quality. Transcending the boundaries of the sculptural discipline, Salt/Sandra is a striking installation that manifests the hallmarks of Fischer’s practice, highlighting the artist’s prowess as a master of many mediums.

Yayoi Kusama’s Butterfly represents a historic return for the artist to her mature style. Butterfly shows Kusama’s trademark motifs – the infinity net and the obliterating dots – in an iconic depiction of one of her primary subjects. Butterfly was painted in 1982, a seminal year for the artist following a tumultuous decade in which she made the commitment to move permanently into the psychiatric hospital that remains her home today. It was also the same year in which she would exhibit new paintings and sculpture at Tokyo’s Fuji Television Gallery and return to the European gallery scene with an exhibition at Naviglio Gallery in Milan. The signature motif of Butterfly can thus be interpreted as a potent and beautiful symbol for, and of, the artist, heightened here by her own metamorphosis. Kusama’s practice was radically reinvigorated from thence forth. Being offered alongside Butterfly are two earlier Kusama works on paper and a print of the same butterfly imagery.

KAWS makes a prominent appearance in this sale as he demonstrates fluency in various media, including an early painted advertising poster, six Companion sculptures, and an iconic acrylic painting. All of these works draw inspiration from pop culture and feature the cartoonish imagery for which he is best known. Untitled (Perso), 1999, is an excellent example from his series of early graffiti covered advertising posters inhabiting New York City phone booths and bus stops. The cover model of Perso magazine has been defaced with KAWS’ signature skull and crossbones. The early development of this Pop style lead to the creation of his Four Foot Companion, a life-size sculptural version of his caricatures that have defined the artist’s contemporary career. As part of an unnumbered series of one hundred Companions, Phillips will offer a collection of three dissected (2009) and three full figures (2007). These Companions are inspired by Mickey Mouse, but instead of mouse ears, the figure dons crossbones and X’s for eyes. Also on offer is Untitled, 2014, featuring the artist’s rendition of Snoopy, an American Beagle and companion to Charlie Brown in the comic strip Peanuts, created by Charles Schulz. However, KAWS’ Snoopy has been playfully renamed by the artist, now known as “Joe KAWS.” As an appropriate continuation from his early graffiti works, the artist has again left just enough of the persona being portrayed for the viewer to be able to immediately recognize these childhood friends.

Phillips will be offering property from an important East Coast collector in the sale. The collector has accumulated an exquisite grouping of works by acclaimed contemporary artists including Cindy Sherman, John Baldessari and Helen Frankenthaler. Sherman’s Untitled #201, 1989, comes from her History Portrait series, and was included in the initial 1990 exhibition of the series at Metro Pictures in New York City. This work is an excellent example from the series and demonstrates the artist’s most attributed style of exploring the construction of identity, representation and the self. Baldessari’s Figure (With Money) and Knife Thrower (With Blue Blindfold), 1990, is a unique piece that displays the artist’s ability to work expertly within various media. This work is part of the artist’s larger compilation of manipulated photography that allows for conceptual interpretations of contemporary culture. Also included in the collection is Frankenthaler’s Untitled, 1978, a striking example of the artist’s famous color-field paintings. Her paintings on paper were an integral part of her practice and at the time of Untitled’s execution were treated by the artist with the same importance as her canvas works. In addition to these three works, Phillips is also offering pieces by Damien Hirst, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Richard Prince, Candida Höfer and Christo.

Jonas Wood’s collection of ten drawings featuring his enigmatic “pot” motif is a highlight of the sale. Computer Drawings, 2008, is an excellent example of the artist’s defining series of pots and potted plants subjects. The simplicity and singularity of these drawings allows the viewer to appreciate the fragility and artful qualities of each pot individually, which are mostly pictured without the presence of plants within them, with the exception of one. Wood further confounds the viewer with his title, seemingly alluding to the basic, early computer illustration software that rendered objects in a crude, flat manner.

Surrealist Landscape is a stunning example from George Condo’s earliest body of work, illustrating the most important art historical influences on his oeuvre. Highlighted in both the present work’s title and composition, the effects of Surrealism on the artist’s early 1980s paintings are indisputable. Painted in 1983, Surrealist Landscape offers a unique look at Condo’s early experimentation with realistically painted subjects with no basis in reality, begun in his East Village studio, so informed by the earliest pioneers of the Surrealist movement including René Magritte and Salvador Dalí. The work occupies a distinctive moment in Condo’s practice when he was relying solely on his knowledge of the art historical trajectory as it was just beginning to shape the post-modern sphere, providing an intimate look at the very start of what would be a long and successful career for the artist.

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