Women Lead Phillips $21M. London Evening Sale – ARTnews.com


At the latest round of auctions in London this week, Phillips held an evening sale of modern and contemporary art at its UK headquarters, bringing in a combined total of £17.5 million (21 million dollars) with fees.

The 33 lots on offer ranged from works by mid-career artists like Shara Hughes and Caroline Walker to less valuable pieces by historical figures like Cy Twombly. Thirty-one works sold, including two withdrawn in advance. Six pieces, including examples from Flora Yukhnovich, Damien Hirst and Stanley Whitney, have been secured by irrevocable offers.

The total hammer price for the entire group before fees was £14.3m ($17.5m), landing at the bottom of its combined pre-sale estimate of 13.5m £18.4 million ($16.4 million to $22.4 million). The total with bounty was $21 million.

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Phillips auction house London, June 30, 2022.
Courtesy of Philips

Energy for the hour-and-a-half sale, led by auctioneer Henry Highly, was higher than in sales led by its biggest rivals – Christie’s and Sotheby’s this week – whose sales are twice as big . More than at other London sales, which were anchored with the best lots of canonized male artists, Phillips relied on some of the youngest artists in the market to build momentum with bidders.

While a few bidding wars have broken out, the auction only generated one new record – for Antonia Showering. Bidders from Canada, France, Lebanon, Hong Kong and London participated.

Phillips examines the market-wide feminist bias recently adopted in contemporary art auctions. The first nine lots in the Phillips sale were works by women.

At first, Lauren Quinn, a 29-year-old painter based in Los Angeles, came up with it. Recent acquisitions of her work in museums in Miami and Beijing have put her on the map. Quinn’s mint green board Numbness (2019), which references biomorphic shapes, topped the house’s low £50,000 ($61,000) estimate. The attention of four bidders, including those covering France’s Lebanon card, moved its final up to £201,600 ($245,000).

Meanwhile towards the end of the sale, I too am overflowing (2017), a painting by London artist Flora Yukhnovich – whose reinterpretations of 18th-century Rococo imagery have been in high demand since its debut at auction last year – sold for £1.7 million ( $2.1 million) with bounty. The result was more than five times higher than the low estimate. It came in short of its record £1.9 million (US$2.5 million) set at Christie’s in March.

Caroline Walker’s painting After (2016) launched a one-upmanship that lasted several minutes. Bidders for the monochrome green painting, which depicts a woman in a bathing suit reclining on an outdoor sofa, moved it well beyond its £60,000 estimate to ultimately sell for five times that estimate for a final price of £315 £000 ($383,188).

Elsewhere in the sale, the 2019 canvas by 27-year-old newcomer Anna Weyant bath time, which depicts a naked cherubic child leaning on a stool, sold for £226,800 ($274,000) with costs after responding to offers from Hong Kong and London. The result was three times the low estimate of £80,000.

abstract painting

Flora Yukhnovitch, I too am overflowing2017.
Courtesy of Philips

Bidding started strong with the sale’s opening lot – the canvas by British painter Antonia Showering, 31 we get lost (2020), an orange and purple landscape with five figures. On the heels of his recent addition to London gallery Timothy Taylor, Showering saw a new auction record when the painting sold for £239,400 ($290,000) with premium, six times the estimate of 40,000 £. It was won by a bidder over the phone with Phillips Vice President Svetlana Marich.

One of the opening lots of the sale was wavy navy (2015) by Shara Hughes, who presented a feature film at the 2017 Whitney Biennale. Hughes has seen a recent surge in market with her works appearing in Hong Kong sales. This lot caught the eye of a bidder from Hong Kong, but fell below its low estimate of £200,000 ($243,207), going to a buyer on the phone with Marich.

Figurative painting by María Berrío The Horsemen II (2012) fared much better, for £809,000 ($981,560), six times the low estimate after bidders from London and Lebanon clashed. He went to a buyer on the phone with Phillips chairman Jean-Paul Engelen.

As usual, the top lots in the sale were pieces by male artists made decades ago. An untitled 1962 work on paper with doodles by Cy Twombly and a figure painting that Michelangelo Pistoletto produced between 1962 and 1967 sold for prices in their estimate of £2.7 million and £2 million ($3.3 million to $2.4 million) respectively.


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