19 August 2020 – Sotheby’s is pleased to announce the offering of Aubrey Mayer: New Portraits, a new series of limited-edition photographic works by Aubrey Mayer, capturing six of contemporary art’s most renowned and celebrated artists at work in their studios: Jacqueline Humphries, Mark Grotjahn, Raymond Pettibon, Ed Ruscha, Henry Taylor, and Jonas Wood. With unprecedented access to the studios of some of the world’s leading contemporary artists, 35-year-old self-taught artist and photographer Aubrey Mayer provides an intimate, behind-the-scenes window onto the artistic process, highlighting each artist's personal space and their unique way of working.
The works, which have never been exhibited or offered for sale, are now available for immediate purchase through sothebys.com.
Printed on aluminum, paper, linen and occasionally in the form of unique monographs, Mayer’s photographs depict remarkable moments in creation of contemporary art, whether it be Mark Grotjahn putting palette knife to cardboard or Jacqueline Humphries reworking the upper reaches of a gestural canvas.
His multi-image compositions, referred to as “contact sheets,” elevate the traditional portrait format, detailing the stages of creation and the artist’s movements. Mayer’s photographs invite further consideration of an artist’s practice and the elements that contribute to the art itself; the studio atmosphere, the chosen brush, the coffee mug, the pet dog. These illuminating, photographic encounters present a rarefied glimpse into the people behind the paintings.
More broadly, the works themselves represent the storied legacy of the artist/photographer relationship, from David Douglas Duncan’s portraits of Pablo Picasso in his La Californie studio to Hans Namuth’s depiction of Jackson Pollock with brush and bucket in hand, to Horst P. Horst’s portrayal of Cy Twombly in his Roman apartment. As such, these images have helped to shape the way we think about history’s most significant artists and art movements.
"I’ve been taking photographic portraits of other artists for the last 15 years, and as my body of work has expanded, I’ve begun to see it evolve as a double portrait and my archive as source material to explore my own interests as an artist. Along those lines, the contact sheet format became a natural evolution of the portraits, as I started to take more photographs, with the feeling that I didn’t want to miss a moment in the artist’s process. To my surprise, they took on a role and narrative of their own, and have become Warholian like—in that the images are repeated over and over again. I have learned so much through photographing these artists and feel incredibly lucky to have their support, and to be invited into their sacred spaces of work. In return, they have hugely impacted my work and development as an artist."
“The idea for this project with Aubrey came out of the current age of FaceTime and Zoom calls, and the growing desire among the arts community to continue to be able to interact with art and artists in their studios, even if at a distance,” said Nicholas Cinque, Sotheby’s Private Sales Director in New York. “As a self-taught artist and photographer without formal gallery representation, Aubrey’s own work and relationships within the art world have earned him a notable grassroots following. What stands out most to me about his work, is the level of trust he’s built with each of these remarkable artists, and the unprecedented access he’s been given to capture their working environments. As our relationship to art becomes further distant in these unique times, Aubrey’s work offers us, the viewer, a vicarious way of visiting artist’s studios.”