Phillips announces highlights from the April Editions Auction
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Phillips announces highlights from the April Editions Auction
Roy Lichtenstein, Reflections on Crash, from Reflections Series. Image courtesy of Phillips.

NEW YORK, NY.- Phillips announced the April Editions & Works on Paper sale, the second of three spring sales in New York for the category. Featuring 373 lots in total, the impressive selection will be offered across three days, in four sessions, with 100 Evening Sale works and 273 lots in the Day Sales. The sale will present rare works by Vija Celmins, Brice Marden, Keith Haring, as well as, a rare proof by Mary Cassatt alongside an impressive number of complete sets from artists Louise Bourgeois, Mark Bradford, Andy Warhol, Yoshitomo Nara, Keith Haring, Jasper Johns, Julian Opie statuettes, among others. As previously announced [LINK], the sale will also include the Anderson Collection: 10 Works from the Family Collection of Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson as a single-owner section in the Editions Evening Sale on 19 April at 432 Park Avenue, New York.

Kelly Troester and Cary Leibowitz, Worldwide Co-Heads of Editions and Deputy Chairpersons, Americas, said, “Following the wonderful success of our newly instated March sale, the April auction is one of our most ambitious to date. From a unique and newly discovered Mary Cassatt drypoint executed in 1890 to Warhol's most iconic celebrity portraits to a Rashid Johnson screenprint from 2019, our April auction presents the full scope of all that the Editions category has to offer.”

Leading the sale are Andy Warhol’s iconic Flowers, rarely encountered as the complete portfolio of 10 screenprints, which are considered exemplary illustrations of the artist’s style and oeuvre. Flowers marked a unique and pivotal moment in Warhol’s career, a deviation from dealing exclusively with celebrity or commercial subject matter. He elevated the everyday by treating banal scenes and objects just as he would a renowned figure or brand. Flowers exemplified Warhol’s achievement of a certain artistic status, in which he produced images that the public would not have previously paid attention to, until Warhol decided that they should. Other exceptional Warhols in the Evening sale include a unique Tiger trial proof and a selection of starlets: Grace Kelly, Marilyn, and Liz (Elizabeth Taylor).

After setting the world auction record for this set last fall, another impeccable and captivating Untitled set of Yoshitomo Nara prints will be offered during the Evening sale. Printed by master printer Yasu Shibata at the Pace Editions Workshop, Yoshitomo Nara’s complete set of 10 ukiyo-e woodcuts effortlessly presents Nara’s signature imagery through a labour intensive printmaking process rooted in Japanese heritage. Referencing his nimble drawings, these woodcuts embody the same immediacy, but more refined. Rendered with attitude, somewhere between melancholy and punk, Yoshitomo Nara’s famous ‘femme fatales’ draw the viewer in. His figures evoke forgotten memories or feelings of childhood, sparked anew by their childlike features. 

Making its first appearance on the auction market is Jean Dubuffet’s monumental and rare screenprint on canvas, Site de mémorie I. The series was the last large-scale work the artist produced in a small edition of 10. The imagery used to create Site de mémoire I began as a drawing with collage of the same image, titled Annale II, now held in the Fondation Jean Dubuffet, Périgny-sure-Yerres. Stitched together from various locales of the artist’s own memory, the motifs present in the work are formed with the simultaneous notions of intention and fate present in daily life. The large-scale nature creates an immersive panorama, not only engaging the viewer, but enveloping them in the landscape of the mind and memory. The 1979 New York exhibition at The Pace Gallery grabbed the attention of Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, continuing Dubuffet’s legacy in the next generation of great contemporary artists.

Described by the artist as “a perfect time capsule of my beginning in New York City,” Keith Haring’s The Blueprint Drawings (L. pp. 174-183) portfolio comes to auction for first time as a complete set of 17. Haring explains the series as “These 17 drawings were created over a period of a few weeks between December 1980 and January 1981. The original drawings were executed on vellum with Sumi ink because I intended to make blueprint copies of each of the drawings. Periodically I would take my drawings to the local blueprinters, where I had much enjoyment trying to explain the content of these works to the men who operated the blueprint machines. After a few weeks, everyone in the shop was familiar with my drawings. This was also the time I began drawing in the NYC subways. The drawings were exhibited in a small gallery space at Westbeth Painter’s Space in February 1981. […] Before I sold any of them I made photostats of each of the drawings. These prints were made from those stats.”

Adam Pendleton’s complete set of four, almost graffiti like prints, explore the intersection of the Black Arts Movement, Dada, Abstraction, and Conceptualism to examine issues of representation, appropriation, history, and identity. As demonstrated in his 2022 MoMA retrospective ad at the 2022 Whitney Biennale, Pendleton’s multi-disciplinary art practice is situated within the conceptual framework of Black Dada, a term coined by Amiri Baraka, a Black Arts Movement leader and an American beat poet. The term is without a singular definition or understanding, but rather a fluid and abstract notion that provides “a way to talk about the future while talking about the past. It is our present moment.” Untitled (2019) comprises of four monoprints posting statements or questions that reflect this notion: BLACK DADA; WHAT IS THE BLA(CK DADA); and WE ARE NOT. Pendleton’s employment of fragmented or incomplete language seeks to disrupt logic, refute the familiar, and challenge institutional authority. Thus, drawing attention to the power of language to define and redefine, to include or exclude, to acknowledge or ignore.

Two additional stand out monumental works in the sale are from Roy Lichtenstein’s
Reflections series; Reflections on Crash and Reflections on the Scream. Layered in technique and interpretation, Lichtenstein’s Reflections series straddles the imagery of the Pop era and the contemporary moment of the 1990s while offering a wink and nod to some of the most iconic artworks of the 19th and 20th centuries. Taking advantage of the extensive facilities of Tyler Graphics and Ken Tyler’s innovative approach to printmaking, Reflections on the Scream and Reflections on Crash contain elements of lithography, screenprinting, woodcut, and metalized collage on an impressive scale.

Highlighted throughout the sale are Marc Chagall’s brilliantly captured and vibrant, colorful scenes from Arabian Nights. Chagall’s Four Tales from the Arabian Nights, 1948, was his elaborate project in lithography for Pantheon Books in New York that illustrated excerpts from ancient Persian, Indian and Arabian tales. His illustrations ultimately enhancing the descriptive nature of the text in unparalleled ways that truly establish his mastery of color lithography. In all, Chagall created 12 different images illustrating the four tales. Lot 3 contains an impression of the final signed and numbered image along with 10 of the rare progressive color proofs. Lots 4 and 5 are examples of the final signed and numbered, full color, states, and lots 131-135 are groups of progressive proofs for other images in the series.

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