The comic characters featured in Turtletowerpower are hallmarks of Kenny Scharf’s distinctive visual language. Achieving fame as part of the 1980s East Village art scene alongside Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Scharf is known for his vivid colour palettes and cartoonish imagery. His work breaks down boundaries that separate fine art from pop culture by prominently featuring characters from TV shows such as the Simpsons and the Jetsons. ‘That’s where I’m from — the TV generation,’ he has said.
Having exhibited at the legendary Fun Gallery through the 1980s and taking part in the Whitney Biennial in 1985, Kenny Scharf has recently seen demand for his work soar, setting multiple artist records in the past few years.
Having studied at Parsons School of Design, Barbara Kruger rose rapidly through the ranks at Mademoiselle magazine in the 1960s and eventually made her way around the New York gallery circuit in the 70s with her early painting and weaving work. After taking a hiatus from art to teach, she took up photography in the late 1970s, resulting in her signature large-scale monochrome images overlaid with colour blocks and text.
Barbara Kruger (b. 1945), Untitled (The War For Me to Become You), 2008. Archival pigment print, in artist’s frame. 42 x 34 in (106.7 x 86.4 cm). Estimate: $40,000-60,000. Offered in First Open from 7-18 July 2023 at Christie’s online
Kruger’s recent exhibitions — including a large-scale site-specific installation at New York's Museum of Modern Art, and two solo shows at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago — were just her latest moments of high-level recognition in the art world. Throughout her career, her hallmark use of pronouns like ‘you’ and ‘we’, such as in Untitled (The War for Me to Become You), have enraptured viewers, as she addresses and implicates them within the work.
Derrick Adams, who recently had an acclaimed solo exhibition at the Flag Art Foundation in New York, has established himself as one of the most prominent artists exploring Black life and culture in America. His works often incorporate performance, video, textile and paper collage. His multimedia interests in music and television can be seen in Sing It Like You Mean It.
Derrick Adams (b. 1970), Sing It Like You Mean It, 2016. Digital print in colours, on Hahnemühle German Etching White paper, numbered 18/20. Sheet: 23⅞ x 35⅞ in (60.6 x 91.1 cm). Estimate: $2,500-3,500. Offered in Contemporary Edition from 7-19 July 2023 at Christie’s online
Adams is no stranger to the global art market, but with celebrated exhibitions at institutions such as the Milwaukee Art Museum, demand for his work has only continued to rise.
Louis Fratino’s paintings draw in equal parts from memory and the everyday. Engaging family, friends and lovers as his subjects, Fratino places the human body and how it is perceived is at the centre of his artistic practice. Taking cues in his figurative portraits from painters like Marsden Hartley, Pablo Picasso and David Hockney, he offers intimate portrayals of queer desire and familiar comfort.
Louis Fratino (b. 1993), After Martin Ramirez, 2018. Coloured pencil, wax crayon and ink on paper. 12 x 9 in (30.5 x 22.9 cm). Estimate: $5,000-7,000. Offered in First Open from 7-18 July 2023 at Christie’s online
Fratino, whose painting Euchre more than tripled its low estimate in this May’s 21st Century Evening Sale, is quickly becoming one of the hottest artists on the market, making the present After Martin Ramirez a unique opportunity to acquire one of his works.
At first glance, Loie Hollowell’s paintings resemble works by Agnes Pelton, Georgia O’Keeffe, or the geometric abstractions of Hilma af Klint. But her depictions of bodily forms and spirituality are distinctly personal. Adapting symbols like the mandala, she has built a visual lexicon uniquely her own.
Hollowell is enjoying an uptick within the art market, with her first museum survey set to take place in early 2024 at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut.
Combining elements of painting, printmaking and bricolage, Tschabalala Self’s work lies between two-dimensional abstraction and sculpture. Princess, comprising pieces of cotton and tulle fabric quilted to form the image of a Black female figure, shows her interest in the iconography of representation.
Self explores the way in which individual elements contribute to the gendering and racializing of a body. She harnesses stereotypes and cultural symbology to unearth discrepancies between perceived and actual perspectives on the body.
Born in Newark in 1922, Grace Hartigan moved to New York City in 1945 and became part of what would be called the ‘second wave’ of Abstract Expressionism. She befriended and studied with Jackson Pollock and his wife Lee Krasner, as well as Willem and Elaine de Kooning, eventually gaining recognition for her abstract work in the 1950s.
Grace Hartigan (1922-2008), Frederiksted Flowers, 1958. Oil and paper collage on paper. 28 x 22 in (71.1 x 55.9 cm). Estimate: $30,000-50,000. Offered in First Open from 7-18 July 2023 at Christie’s online
Her paintings fluctuated between abstract and figural compositions throughout her life, but some of her finest work lives in the scission between these two poles — such as the present Untitled.
Like Hartigan, Lynne Drexler’s kaleidoscopic landscapes are best categorised in a space between artistic movements. Born in 1928 and studying under Hans Hofmann and Robert Motherwell, she incorporated elements of Post-Impressionism, landscape painting and abstraction in her vibrant compositions, though her work remains largely unique. This importance is not lost on her audience, either: her painting Herbert’s Garden brought a hammer price of $1,500,000 at Christie’s last year, shattering her previous record at auction. Beyond this, her top five auction prices have all been achieved since March 2022, suggesting that her market is just beginning to take off.
Lynne Drexler (1928-1999), Meadow Bush, 1980. Oil on canvas. 16 x 28 in (40.6 x 71.1 cm). Estimate: $30,000-50,000. Offered in First Open from 7-18 July 2023 at Christie’s online
Characterised by repetitive, sometimes frantic arrays of brushstrokes, her paintings are a masterclass in using colour to convey feeling, cradling the viewer in the distinctly fragmentary forms of nature. Her works have a synesthetic quality — and indeed her inspirations come from music as well as art — as they present landscape and still life through colour as means of composing shape.
Deeply inspired by Josef Albers’ classic text Interaction of Color (1981), Halley’s work prioritises colour, shape and form. As a writer and artist, Halley played a foundational role in Neo-Conceptualism in the 1980s. He occupies a rare space, blurring disciplines, as he flits between post-structuralist critique and masterful representations of Neo-Expressionist aesthetic principles.
Based in Brooklyn, Mickalene Thomas often deploys abstract mixed media, such as gemstones, acrylics and enamel. Taking cues from a wide range of artists such from Henri Matisse to Romare Bearden, her work often explores the spectrum of Black female beauty, while also drawing on classical portraiture, still life, and the tradition of the female nude.
Mickalene Thomas (b.1971), Brawlin’ Spitfire Wrestlers, 2007. Hand-painted resin multiple with Swarovski crystals, numbered 12/40. 14 x 9¾ x 10 in (3.6 x 24.8 x 25 cm). Estimate: $7,000-10,000. Offered in Contemporary Edition from 7-19 July 2023 at Christie’s online
Though not new to the scene, Thomas’ art market success shows no sign of letting up. Recently, two of her works — Portrait of Qusuquzah #6 and NUS Exotiques #3 — were both sold as part of Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Day Sale.
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