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David Hammons
UNTITLED
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2,000,0003,000,000
LOT SOLD. 2,290,000 USD
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40
David Hammons
UNTITLED
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
2,000,0003,000,000
LOT SOLD. 2,290,000 USD
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Details & Cataloguing

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York

David Hammons
B. 1943
UNTITLED
mixed media on canvas 
92 x 72 in. 233.7 x 182.9 cm.
Executed in 2010.
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Provenance

L&M Arts, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above

Exhibited

New York, L&M Arts, David Hammons, January - March 2011, n.p., illustrated in color
London, White Cube, David Hammons, October 2014 - January 2015

Literature

Raphael Rubinstein, "To Rest Lightly on the Earth," Art in America, February 2012, no. 2, p. 81, illustrated in color (in installation at L & M Arts, New York, 2011)

Catalogue Note

Archetypal of his persistent defiance of the status quo, Hammons’ immense Untitled from 2010 pointedly challenges the monumental legacy of painting. Steven Stern presents an apt distillation of this most enigmatic artist when he describes Hammons as a “projectile in the medieval armory of the art world… [who] set about finding ways to sabotage the works, to undermine this notion of a singular context and a singular dialogue.” (Steven Stern, "A Fraction of the Whole," Frieze Contemporary Art and Culture, March 2009) Here, a large canvas is cloaked in an ethereal, translucent plastic sheet scavenged from the street, which obscures the painted surface beneath. The pearlescent covering is gracefully suspended from the top edge of the canvas, gathering in elegant folds and drapery as it swathes the picture plane. The fluorescent fields of abstract color are visible only through the mediated screen of the diaphanous synthetic material, revealing a clandestine composition of garish gestural brushstrokes in a style alluding to Abstract Expressionist masters such as Willem de Kooning and Clyfford Still and contemporary painters like Gerhard Richter. Creating a tension between the distressed detritus and the painterly surface blurs the boundaries between painting and sculpture, and explores notions of beauty and Hammons’s critical concern with the visibility and invisibility of racial politics. The resulting ruffled layers destabilize hierarchies between waste and luxury, elevating the discarded material to the realm of high art and attacking the elevated preciousness of painting. Lacerations in the industrial material expose hints of muscular brushwork while overall Hammons veils the painting from the viewer’s eye, enlisting the very material that might have been used to wrap it in the first place.

Hammons’s appropriation of the prosaic vernacular of trash and construction sites radically and blatantly challenges conventional hierarchies. Persistently forgoing the standard systems of fine art display, Hammons makes art out of the disused remnants of everyday life: rubble from the street that includes hair, bottles, bones, and bags. His ordinary objects, however, are charged with history, complexity, and narrative—this plastic sheeting is torn and frayed; discarded detritus functioning as an anti-object. Holland Cotter suggested, “If Abstract Expressionism is about the preciousness of the painter’s touch, Mr. Hammons’s arrangements of raddled plastics and frayed blankets are about the touch of ordinary bodies laboring, sweating, sleeping, trying to stay warm.” (Holland Cotter, "The Upper East Side Goes Grungy in David Hammons’s Gallery Show," The New York Times, March 1, 2011, p. C1) Hammons has lived and worked in New York City since 1974, and his experiences there have critically informed the foundation of his oeuvre, permeated by a highly charged and omnipresent cultural critique. Through the use of provocative and unconventional materials he creates art with a strong visual impact that simultaneously shocks, perplexes, and stimulates.

Dismantling the entrenched traditions of high art and its commodification, Hammons’ work calls into question the capitalist systems that underpin the established structural hierarchies of the art world. Untitled is exemplary of Hammons’ characteristically unorthodox approach to artistic methods and materials, which persistently reach beyond the conventional limits of paint on canvas through the playful use of discarded debris. Upon this painting’s first exhibition, The New Yorker praised, “With their draped membranes often touching the floor, the works have a mighty, sculptural presence to go with their visual ravishment. Hammons’s show is somehow about everything since Abstract Expressionism—his initial inspiration before he launched his long career as a conceptualist guerrilla, surfacing now and then from jealously guarded obscurity with satirical japes, at once elegant and scorching, on themes of racial and social inequality. Now he has achieved a perfect synthesis of his political animus and his aesthetic avidity… Nearly every one of these works belongs in a museum, in a room of its own. Any other art juxtaposed with it would curl up and die.” ("Review : David Hammons," originally published in The New Yorker, cited in Exh. Cat., New York, L&M Arts, David Hammons, 2011, n. p.)

Contemporary Art Evening Auction

|
New York