Sotheby's opens Burning Man auction with 150+ lots
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Sotheby's opens Burning Man auction with 150+ lots
David Best's Rocket Car. Estimate: $30/50,000. Courtesy Sotheby’s.

NEW YORK, NY.- Highlighted by a group of rebel mutant vehicles, genre-defying original artwork, eclectic fashions and accessories, photography, unique experiences, and much more, Sotheby’s is bringing the experience of Burning Man and Black Rock City to New York with a comprehensive auction and exhibition of more than 150 lots that channel the spirit of Burning Man. Showcasing a diverse range of works contributed by Burning Man artists, community members, and culturally-adjacent artists and collectors, Boundless Space…The Possibilities of Burning Man is a unique opportunity to benefit participating artists while raising funds for Burning Man Project to help ensure the nonprofit’s long-term commitment to facilitating and extending the culture that has issued from Black Rock City into the larger world. Funds will directly support participating artists and Burning Man Project’s Art and Civic Engagement programs, which nurture a global spectrum of projects and partnerships inspired by the art and community of the Burning Man event in Black Rock City and beyond.

Coinciding with the online auction, Sotheby’s will present an exhibition specially designed by David Korins, the renowned Emmy Award-winning creative director who created the worlds for Broadway musicals Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, and Beetlejuice: The Musical, among others, and activated by the local Burning Man community in New York.

Harrison Tenzer, Sotheby’s Head of Digital Strategy for Auctions, said: “We are incredibly excited to present this special, one-of-a-kind auction that celebrates the eclectic and inclusive spirit of Burning Man. By presenting a wide-ranging selection of artwork, unique objects, and personalized experiences, the auction showcases established artists who have long supported Burning Man, along with many emerging artists whose work has never before been offered at auction, to truly embraces the ethos of community inherent to Burning Man.”

Kim Cook, Director of Creative Initiatives for Burning Man, commented: “A madcap collision that makes magic between the two worlds of Sotheby's and Burning Man, you might just find the artwork you've been dreaming of, fall in love with an artist from far, far away, or stimulate visions of your own creativity through our joyful commitment to all that is bold, fresh, welcoming, and imaginative. Explore the catalog and be prepared for surprise and wonder and then join us in New York for a truly special exhibition.”

“I’m thrilled to continue my longstanding relationship with Sotheby’s. My passion is to create whole new ways to interact with and inhabit environments, and what inspires me is the art of collaboration and our collective ability to tell stories,” said Creative Director David Korins. “Fusing the beautifully-refined world-class infrastructure and facilities at Sotheby's with the thriving, wild and imaginative creations from the Burning Man culture of dreamers and doers has been a truly thrilling and satisfying partnership,” continued Korins.

Boundless Space…The Possibilities of Burning Man

Among the more than 150 lots on offer in the auction, the sale is highlighted by a group of mutant vehicles that have become an iconic symbol of the creative ingenuity that underpins Burning Man. Leading the group is A Metal Mutant Masterpiece - A Custom Vehicle Build by Henry Chang (estimate $2.2/2.5 million). Chang is one of the key designers whose work has both influenced and been influenced by the experience of Burning Man. From his work with static sculpture to kinetic art, Chang has constructed everything from intricate musical instruments to future-forward clothing, all displaying a similar style balancing technical expertise with outlandish execution. Chang’s metal-crafted artistry on Mutant Vehicles such as Valyrian Steel has earned him international renown. This custom mutant vehicle will be an all-new design and construction by Chang in time for Burning Man 2023, with input from the winning bidder throughout the design process.

Collaborate on the creation of a custom art car with Burning Man legend Sean Orlando with A Guide to Radical Self-Expression (estimate $25/50,000). Your unique artistic vision becomes reality in the form of a one-of-a-kind sculptural adventure implemented in partnership with Orlando and his Engineered Artworks studio, the West Coast’s preeminent makers of sleek, intriguing sculptural vehicles and transcendent artistic experiences. Orlando and the master technicians of Engineered Artworks will collaborate with you to ideate and generate a unique, build-ready design. Additional mutant vehicles in the auction include David Best's Rocket Car (estimate $30/50,000) from the Petaluma, CA-based art car master. Built with a talented team in 2003 from an original 1973 Cadillac Sedan DeVille, Best’s finished art piece is like a concept rocket car Detroit designers could only dream of. Another custom vehicle build is art car expert Teddy Lo’s CarCroach-A Motor City Survivor, Built for Black Rock (estimate $30/60,000), which has driven cross-country to several Burning Man events. The vehicle was made famous in the wake of the protests in the tumultuous summer of 2019 following a viral Twitter post capturing the rolling down an avenue in Detroit.

The auction features a group of original artworks from a diverse roster of artists, including many of the most renowned and celebrating artists working today across a variety of media. Among them is longtime Burner Leo Villareal, whose work The Man, 2021 (estimate $30/50,000) is a unique piece that consists of an LED array displaying a time-based artwork created in 2001. The work combines video of the Burning Man with particle animations and Villareal’s cellular automata experiments. Famed photographer David Yarrow’s Encroachment ($30/50,000) captures the moment when a wolf makes eye contact with his camera, and showcases the artist’s commitment to presenting the animal and human world in a fresh and creative ways. Hank Willis Thomas' Yellow Frosted Willows (or Anna May Wong) Pollock (estimate $50/60,000) pays tribute to Anna May Wong, who was considered to be the first Chinese American Hollywood movie star. She appeared in more than 60 films including one of the first movies made in Technicolor, yet she faced constant discrimination and typecasting throughout her career. Other works on offer include Richard Prince's Untitled (Hippie Drawing) (estimate $25/35,000) and Shepard Fairey's Andre Psychedelic (estimate $10/15,000).

Additionally, the auction features original artwork by many artists who have personal connections to Burning Man, or whose work expresses a creative energy akin the Burning Man experience, many of which have never been presented at auction before. Among them include Stephen Paul Day's Queen of Mirth (estimate $10/15,000), from the artist’s series of souvenir inspired works; Favianna Rodriguez's Guardian (estimate $1/2,000), from the interdisciplinary artist and activist whose signature mark-making embodies the perspective of an unapologetic first-generation American Latinx artist, descendant of displaced Afro Peruvians; Mario Moore's Siriusly (estimate $25/35,000), whose work redefines the gaze for the subjects he paints and features historical references that draw parallels to the social, economic and racial occurrences of today; Deborah Oropallo's The Diver (estimate $6/8,000), which continues the artist's exploration using classical portraits of men, overlaid with contemporary women to address issues about climate change, our oceans, and the future of the planet; Six works from the Black Burner Project Collaboration by Erin Douglas (each lot estimate $2/3,000), who created the Black Burner project in 2018 after seeing the need for visual representation, and returning to Burning Man a second year to document people of color -- particularly Black people -- through photography and personal narratives; Blue by Alexey Kondakov (estimate $500/1,000), in which Kondakov weaves a unique surrealistic space-time, where gods and mythological creatures turn into ordinary people; Kuba Cloths by the Shoowa People, Kuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo (estimate $2/3,000), which are handwoven textiles made with raffia that is stripped and kneaded using traditional vegetable dyes to achieve their rich natural colors; and Michael Bilsborough's "Do It Live:” Drawings from Black Rock City (estimate $500/1,000), a series of three drawings made on site at Burning Man.

The auction includes 13 NFTs by many of the leading artists working in digital art, including Fvckrender, BLOND:ISH x Knownfor, and Trevor Andrew aka Guccighost. Additional NFTs are on offer from a number of artists who are first entering the NFT space, as well as several others whose NFTs directly reflect the Burning Man experience, such as Dominic Tinio's Swan Song (Leaving No Trace Was Just The Beginning), Scott Cohen's Burning Man Life Cube (2 of 5), Peter Ruprecht's Ascension, and Media Burn One by Chip Lord/ Ant Farm.

The auction is also highlighted by a wide-ranging selection of fashion and accessories by noted designers and artisans whose work encapsulates the eclectic style of Burning Man. Among them are two pieces by Iris van Herpen, widely heralded as one of fashion's most forward-thinking designers. Van Herpen’s designs contemplate movement as a metamorphic force that enables her ethereal garments to extend from the human body, sculpting their forms into multi-dimensional silhouettes. Van Herpen's vision is guided by movement and the human anatomy making these other-worldly looking garments adored by clientele worldwide. On offer in the sale is Between the Lines, (estimate $40/60,000), a cropped coat of fine black wool with soft 3D handcrafted soft lines that are painted by hand, and Mummification (estimate $40/60,000), which took inspiration from the ancient technique of mummification to create this look from ECCO leather. Fashion accessories offered in the auction include Wristband Minaudière (estimate $500/1,000) by Rebecca Throne a.k.a nimbus, Weld Queen’s Purse for Strong Women (estimate $2/3,000), and Miss Velvet Cream’s Dream Warrior dress (estimate $2/3,000), part of the artist’s handmade neo-couture clothing.

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