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Phillips de Pury & Company announces highlights from its Under the Infuence auction
Kehinde Wiley, St. Sebastian II ( Columbus ), 2006. Estimated at $80,000 to $120,000. Photo: Courtesy of Phillips de Pury & Company.

NEW YORK, N.Y.- Phillips de Pury & Company is pleased to announce highlights from the September Under the Influence auction. The sale opens the Fall auction season with a fresh selection of contemporary art.

Vik Muniz’s Jackie (Pictures of Diamonds), 2005 estimated at $100,000 to $150,000 portrays Jackie Kennedy Onassis shining with vitality. The photograph is fashioned from more than 3,000 loose, precious diamonds originally supplied by a diamond trade collector and patron of the artist. Muniz’s use of three-dimensional materials challenges the boundaries of dimensionality by flattening the objects into a two-dimensional photographic portrait. The resulting portrait of Jackie radiates with the poise, grace and spirit of its iconic subject.

Mark Handforth’s Bearded Snake, 2005 estimated at $100,000 to $150,000 utilizes a bar of steel, which has been transformed into a sinuous strip, spray-painted and adorned with a lit candle at its head. Handforth has taken a reinforcing steel bar and created a multicolored, slithering snake, breaking the existing notion of the original material and inventing an interesting new way of seeing it. Handforth’s sculptures create new meaning to the texts and objects that inhabit our everyday lives, and as a result force the viewer to reconsider the ways in which these objects can be engaged.

Kehinde Wiley’s St. Sebastian II (Columbus), 2006 estimated at $80,000 to $120,000 typifies the reinterpretation of the classical tradition of portrait painting that Wiley masterfully executes in his large-scale paintings. Wiley overturns stereotypical representations by applying the conventions of historically white nobility to the modern urban African American man. Each portrait is titled to pay homage to a historical or classical subject that was frequently rendered by the Old Masters. This work honors Saint Sebastian, a Christian saint and martyr ordered to be bound to a stake and tortured as a result of religious persecution; however, the arrows did not kill him and he was rescued and healed by Saint Irene of Rome. This work examines physical excellence – the removal of the usual background detail, such as that of a landscape or a public forum, highlights and forces the viewer’s attention to the subject’s physical body and musculature. Through Wiley’s interrogation of traditional portraiture, he blurs the boundaries between historical and contemporary modes of representation, as well as introduces a new lens through which to view contemporary culture, as seen in St. Sebastian II (Columbus).

Subodh Gupta’s Sans Titre #2, Ballot rond (gros), 2006 estimated at $70,000 - $90,000 displays a “ballot” (bundle) cast in aluminum. This transformation of a typical bundle into sculpture maintains Indian tradition in a society that surges forward. By pushing everyday life and ritual into the future and dealing with the economic transformation of his country through his art, Gupta has heightened himself to one of India’s most celebrated and widely known contemporary artist. Sans Titre #2 Ballot Rond (gros) is an excellent example of Gupta’s ability to create sculptures, selecting signature objects of the Indian sub-continent and reframing them as art objects in monumental installations. Gupta elevates the ready-made into an art object and transforms the subject into an icon of his heritage. India’s rich and varied cultural traditions are thus eternalized through the work.

Additional highlights include Zhang Huan’s My America (Performance, Hard to Acclimatize, November 1999, Seattle Art Museum), 1999 estimated at $25,000 to $35,000, a four-part, performance-based photograph addressing the artist’s confrontation of a new culture. ZEVS Liquidated Chanel, 2010 estimated at $7,000 to $9,000, from the Liquidated Logo series, attacks the symbolic function of the logo, consumerism and mass production. Zevs has developed his critique by examining the power and promotion of signs. Liquidated Chanel began as a performance in Hong Kong in 2008. On stage, Zevs tattooed the Chanel logo on the naked back of a woman, thus causing blood to run down her body.

Under the Influence includes a selection of 103 works from a Private American Collection that showcase the collection’s versatility and complexity. Highlights include Tony Matelli’s Lost & Sick, 1996 estimated at $30,000 - $40,000. Literally titled, Lost and Sick, 1996 portrays three boy scouts battling fatigue, desperation and despair in a barren and almost apocalyptic landscape. What had initially commenced as an adventure enforced by goodness and innocence becomes a hellish scene of unexpected exile and bleak outcome. Biljana Djurdjevic’s Passion, 2005 estimated at $8,000 to $12,000 stems from a clear influence of Renaissance and Classical Art, lifting iconic imagery and presenting it with a contemporary twist. Passion depicts a scene associated with the title, identifiably the Virgin Mary with Christ. In this adaptation, the main figure is an adolescent girl, shown frontally and elongated in the Baroque style.

The young mom, presenting her child, contaminates the iconographic image of Mary with baby Jesus and gives the recognizable model a modern spin - socially problematic themes taint Djurdjevic’s work and bring the classical training into modern day. Dean Byington’s Cathedral, 2007 estimated at $6,000 to $8,000, sold with no reserve, exemplifies the vast and intricate landscapes of Byington’s work. Because of the complex layering of design and imagery, his work can often appear monochromatic and difficult to view upon first inspection, but become more easily penetrable with a closer look. Cathedral, 2007, a green monochromatic piece, is a fine example of this; the viewer must look closely to extract images from the work as a whole, but once inside, this realm becomes a wonderland to the eye. Toland Grinnell is most recognized for his elaborate mixed-media constructions that tend to depict imaginary worlds within worlds. Grinnell’s Mast, 1996 – 1997, estimated at $4,000 - $6,000 and to be sold with no reserve, implicitly presents this through what the artist describes as surface meaning and sub-surface meaning, a secret narrative inside the artwork.

The auction catalogue features interviews with Marina Abramovic, Larence Weinder, Ahmed Alsoudani, Carolyn Christov Bakariev and a profile feature on Phoebe Unwin.

Today's News

September 1, 2011

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