ArtCrush 2023: Art Auction to Benefit the Aspen Art Museum

ArtCrush 2023: Art Auction to Benefit the Aspen Art Museum

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 50. Mines.

Cauleen Smith


Lot Closed

August 5, 06:50 PM GMT


40,000 - 60,000 USD

Lot Details


Cauleen Smith

b. 1967


Cloth, acrylic, satin, paper, sequins, velvet, velour, synthetic suede, fringe, and gold anodized aluminum rod

60½ by 54 in.

153.7 by 137.2 cm.

Executed in 2022.

Please note that while this auction is hosted on, it is being administered by the Aspen Art Museum, and all post-sale matters (inclusive of invoicing and property pickup/shipment) will be handled by the Aspen Art Museum. As such, Sotheby’s will share the contact details for the winning bidders with the Aspen Art Museum so that they may be in touch directly post-sale.

As such, there is no buyer's premium in this auction - all sale proceeds will go directly to the Aspen Art Museum to support its programs. Certain amounts paid above the value of the property or services provided may qualify as a tax deductible donation to the museum. Sotheby’s does not offer tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor, and for any tax related inquiries please contact at the Aspen Art Museum.

Kindly donated by the artist and Morán Morán

Essay on the artist which appears in the Aspen Art Museum’s Summer Magazine: 

Based in Los Angeles, Cauleen Smith is an interdisciplinary artist working across a diverse range of media. She is perhaps best known as a filmmaker and during her MFA at University of California, LA, she embarked on making a feature-length film. Completed in 1998, Drylongso is the story of a young black woman studying photography. Addressing issues of gender, race and identity, it went onto garner much praise and receive a number of awards.

Throughout her work, Smith deals with African-American identity and Black feminism. The breadth of her interests and sources is remarkable: the jazz musician Alice Coltrane, aswell as the legendary Sun Ra; literature, including the science fiction writings of Octavia E. Butler; the work of Paul Thek; Afrofuturism; flora; and the Shaker religion. Much of her practice is rooted in delving into an eclectic range of archives. In an interview with Flash Art in 2019, she outlined her approach: “Even though I’m a filmmaker, I have a profound resistance to representation of the figure […] So for me the archive is about all the things that cannot be replicated and rendered, about interiority instead of about representation. I don’t think I hold myself to very high ethical standards when it comes to archives. I go into archives to answer my own questions or find new questions to ask.”

Fascinated by the possibilities of the imagination, in the same interview Smith explains: “I’m actually just interested in the wondrously inventive ways that people survive trauma without subjecting those around them to its reenactment.”

Smith, who has an upcoming exhibition at the Aspen Art Museum this winter, has exhibited extensively around the world, staged screenings at international institutions and film festivals, including Sundance and in Smuggler Mine here in Aspen last year. She is the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including the 2022 Heinz Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2021. Her work is held in key collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She is Professor at CalArts School of Art, LA.

Cauleen Smith (b. Riverside, California, 1967, lives and works in Los Angeles, CA) is an artist who makes films, installations, and objects. She actively invites engagement, and with much of the work she employs a purposeful undermining of image and language to elicit contemplation. Smith’s films create worlds that expand on the discourse of mid-twentieth-century experimental filmmaking. Drawing from structuralism, third world cinema, and science fiction, she assembles poetic compositions that gently reveal nuanced narratives, both familiar, and oftentimes, purposefully opaque. Her text-based tapestries follow a historic tradition of heraldry. These banners, which can be understood as a social device symbolizing community organizing, declare personalized idioms sewn in script that simulates her own handwriting, lifted directly from her sketchbook. Through her installations, Smith constructs archetypes of the universe and she assembles miniature worlds using myriad items, which often include mundane object and figurines alongside symbols of colonialism, such as porcelain objects and potted plants, paired with disco balls, rocks and minerals, resulting in something otherworldly and also museological. For Smith, consideration of the audience is an important element of her process, and she uses a full range of media and references to express her belief in utopian potentiality.

Cauleen Smith received her BFA from San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA, and her MFA from University of California, Los Angeles, CA. Smith is the recipient of several grants and awards, including the 2022 Heinz Award; Guggenheim Fellowship; Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize; Ellsworth Kelly Award; The Herb Alpert Award in the Arts; and a Rauschenberg Residency. Smith’s works have been featured in solo exhibitions at institutions such as Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago, IL; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, MA; Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston, TX; and Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA, among others. Her work is included in numerous public collections, such as the Art Institute of Chicago; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Studio Museum Harlem; Smithsonian Museum of American Art; and the Whitney Museum of American Art.