Sotheby's Contemporary Art Day Auction
New York, 20 November 2020
Ken Price, Vulcan Island (2003). Acrylic and ink on paper. 31.2 x 24.5 cm. Courtesy Sotheby's.
Keith Haring, Untitled (1988). Sumi ink on paper. 76.2 x 101.6 cm. Courtesy Sotheby's.
Alexander Calder, Big Boulder, Filled Spiral (1970). Gouache and ink on paper. 109.2 x 74.3 cm. Courtesy Sotheby's.

Ocula Advisory selects three highlights from Sotheby's Contemporary Art Day Auction: Online on 18 November 2020.


More in Advisory Picks

Sanam Khatibi at rodolphe janssen
Brussels, 19 November 2020

Born in Tehran, yet raised and currently living in Brussels, Sanam Khatibi's paintings take influence from Northern Renaissance painting, in particular the work of Hieronymus Bosch.

Atlantic is included in Khatibi's current exhibition Cyanide at rodolphe janssen, which presents 21 miniature vanitas paintings. Common symbols from the Golden Age genre include flowers, skulls, and butterflies—here re-presented by Khatibi to reflect on the empty pursuit of goods and pleasures, as well as the transience of life.

Removed from their original function, Khatibi renders these objects as ornamental, their details spotlighted and almost floating amidst this overwhelmingly dark vastness.

Main image: Sanam Khatibi, Atlantic (2020). Oil on panel. 21 x 31 cm. Courtesy rodolphe janssen.
Salman Toor at the Whitney Museum of American Art
New York, 18 November 2020

One of the most exciting new figurative painters to have emerged over the last few years is Lahore-born New Yorker, Salman Toor, whose solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art recently opened in New York and will be on view until 4 April 2021.

Toor's interior scenes—often rendered in his unmistakable emerald green tones—depict imagined narratives heavily influenced by his own experiences as a queer Asian man living in New York. Intimate scenes of lovers kissing or talking over glowing iPhone screens combine with theatrical poses on the dance floor to conjure up an alluringly whimsical atmosphere.

Toor's painterly mark-making and flair for figurative composition, together with his figures' engaging facial expressions imbue these narratives with a sense of nostalgia and emotional intensity; reflecting a depth of understanding and appreciation for Expressionist and Impressionist painters from the past.

Main image: Salman Toor, The Bar on East 13th (2019). Courtesy the artist and Perrotin. Photo: Guillaume Ziccarelli. 
Art021 Highlights: Wolfgang Tillmans
Shanghai, 15 November 2020

One of our highlights from Art021 Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair is this inkjet print from Wolfgang Tillmans' celebrated 'paper drop' series, presented by Maureen Paley.

Tillmans makes abstract works that challenge pre-existing hierarchies around photography. He constructs cameraless photographic images via a process of exposing photosensitive paper to light sources.

In the case of his 'paper drop' series, Tillmans photographs curved sheets of photographic paper. In these works, the sheet of photographic paper becomes sculptural, transformed into a voluminous, almost liquid state.

Tillmans does not view his abstract work as separate from his figurative output, and their power lies in the startlingly personal sensation elicited from something so abstract.

Main image: Wolfgang Tillmans, paper drop (green) (2019). Unframed inkjet print. 135 x 200 cm. © Wolfgang Tillmans. Courtesy Maureen Paley, London / Hove.
Art021 Highlights: David Douard
Shanghai, 13 November 2020
David Douard, EV''R 3 (2020). Aluminium frame, silk screened fabric, silk screened wood, silk screened plastic. 151 x 110 x 14.5 cm. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris. Photo: Martin Argyroglo.

We love this David Douard work that Galerie Chantal Crousel are showing for Art021 Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair.

Poetry and text feed into Douard's sculptures as vital components, shaping the meaning of his objects and their surroundings. The result is the creation of a strange fictitious world made up of organic, whimsical sculptures.

Douard explains that the use of poetry in his work, which he sources from the internet, started early on in his career and represents a prolongation of the relationship he had with graffiti in his past.

'Nobody expresses anything in the street now. Everything happens on the internet,' Douard has said.

Art021 Highlights: Judy Chicago
Shanghai, 12 November 2020

Salon 94 are showing this Judy Chicago work in the online viewing rooms of Art021 Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair.

For the Birth Project (1980–1985), Judy Chicago collaborated with over 150 needleworkers to create a series of embroidery and paintings dedicated to the multifaceted experiences of giving birth.

Birth Trinity (1985), a print version of the original 1983 needlework on mesh canvas, takes a mystical turn on the process: three figures are entangled, merging into and emerging from one another, with bands of softly pulsating colours that radiate from their forms.

Main image: Judy Chicago, Birth Trinity (1985). Screenprint in colours. 35.6 x 87.6 cm. © Judy Chicago. Courtesy Salon 94.
Art021 Highlights: Brancusi
ART021, 10 November 2020
Constantin Brancusi, Jeune Fille sophistiquée (Portrait de Nancy Cunard) (1928–1932). Polished bronze. 54.9 x 14.9 x 21.9 cm. Cast by Susse Fondeur, Paris, France in 2013. © Succession Brancusi, all rights reserved/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris. Courtesy Kasmin Gallery, New York.  

Kasmin Gallery are showing this sublime sculpture by Brancusi for Art021 Shanghai Contemporary Art Fair.

The 1932 unique cast of this work fetched USD $71 million at Christie's in 2018 and, although this is a posthumous cast, one cannot deny the sheer beauty of this object.

Brancusi's iconic polished bronze lends itself so well to more recent casting, and invites intriguing questions around authorship.

This sculpture feels contemporary, in part due to Brancusi's aesthetic influence on modern sculpture that has trickled down over the years, but also through his ability to convey modernity as an expressive form of universality.

Brancusi eschews physical characterisation for more abstract forms, but a subtle suggestion of curves, swirls, and verticality leaves us with this powerful sensation of a sophisticated woman.

Günther Uecker at Lévy Gorvy
London, 05 November 2020
Exhibition view: Günther Uecker, Lévy Gorvy, London (27 October–2 December 2020). Courtesy Lévy Gorvy.

Coinciding with his exhibition at Lévy Gorvy's new space in Paris, Günther Uecker is showing at their space on Albemarle Street, London from 27 October 2020.

Uecker's statuesque sculptures appear to be threatening relics from a turbulent past, but they are extraordinarily tactile, revealing the process involved in their making.

The artist's repetitive hammering of nails into readymade objects becomes a ritualistic process indulging Uecker's interest in Buddhist, Taoist, and Islamic philosophies.

Art Basel OVR Highlights: Adriana Varejão
Basel, 30 October 2020

Fortes D'Aloia & Gabriel showed this work by Adriana Varejão at Art Basel OVR20:c—a highlight from the fair for us.

Varejão has been one of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful Brazilian artists over the last 25 years.

Her work unpicks the layers of colonialism and diverse cultural histories making up her native Brazil. Fragments from different times and places are assembled and recontextualised within the framework of Varejão's painting. This early canvas from 1993 is ruptured with flesh wounds, revealing a morbid violence simmering beneath the surface of the remnants of colonialism.

Varejão provides us with text from ancient maps detailing different oceans alongside beautiful variations of painted waves. Pieces of broken porcelain in an array of colours and patterns are strewn across the canvas, interconnected by delicate threads of material.

This intricate web alludes to the fragility of our cultural histories, whilst also questioning the stability and authenticity of a globalised society. Varejão uses pieces of Brazilian culture as props to construct beautifully poetic and, at times, visceral images that reflect contemporary life.

Images: Adriana Varejão, Linha Equinocial (1993). Mixed media. 220 x 160 cm. © Adriana Varejão. Courtesy Fortes D'Aloia & Gabriel.
Art Basel OVR Highlights: Lucio Fontana
Basel, 29 October 2020

Lucio Fontana's work is being shown alongside Alexander Calder's at Ben Brown Fine Arts for Art Basel OVR:20c.

Known as the father of Spatialism, Argentine-Italian artist Fontana worked with a variety of materials and techniques to experiment and pioneer conceptual limits in art.

The Movimento Spaziale was the result of the 'Manifesto Blanco', a manifesto written by the students and teachers at the Academia Altarmira, which Fontana founded in 1945. The manifesto called for art that combined elements of colour, movement, time, and space.

This work is part of Fontana's 'Concetto Spaziale' series. The linen was stretched and painted in monochromatic colours, to which Fontana would stab to create buchi (holes), exposing the space beneath. In creating this void, Fontana investigated and manipulated the space between the viewer, the canvas, and the space beyond.

The painting is significant for marking the beginning of Fontana's distinctive 'Tagli' (cuts) series. Tagli being the process of vertical or diagonal energetic slashes made to the canvas made with a sharp blade. Earlier Tagli work can be delineated for their rougher, more ragged tears, whereas later works were characterised by definitive slashes.

Main image: Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale, (1958). Incisions on paper canvas. 96 x 130 cm. © Fondazione Lucio Fontana. Courtesy Ben Brown Fine Arts.
Luc Tuymans at David Zwirner
Hong Kong, 28 October 2020

Drawing on Flemish traditions of Realism, featuring representations of found images or photographs, Luc Tuymans' work engages with the world in a way that defies traditional narratives and histories to instead 'start from something real'.

His figurative paintings executed in muted colours and a hazy application of paint, create a dream-like frame, drawing on themes of memory and his interest in photography and moving image.

Still is inspired by a scene from David Lynch's film, Mulholland Drive (2001), in which Justin Theroux's character is confronted by a cowboy mysteriously advising him on his predicament.

Together with Outfit—a painting of the cowboy costume of Hollywood actor, Tom Mix—these works also investigate the image of the cowboy as a cultural embodiment of the U.S.A. and how this was exported globally. The title of the show, Good Luck, also hints to a more ominous or threatening message when considered alongside images of cowboys.

Luc Tuymans' exhibition Good Luck is showing with David Zwirner in their Hong Kong gallery, running from 27 October to 19 December 2020.

Main image: Luc Tuymans, Still (2019). Oil on canvas. 90.6 x 176.2 cm. © Luc Tuymans. Courtesy David Zwirner.
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