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This lot will be removed to our storage facility a… Read more PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED EUROPEAN COLLECTION

Three Point Bend

Three Point Bend
signed and dated 'FORDJOUR '19' (on the reverse)
acrylic, charcoal, oil pastel and cardboard on carved newspaper mounted on canvas
48 x 60in. (121.8 x 152.5cm.)
Executed in 2019
Petzel Gallery, New York.
Zidoun-Bossuyt Gallery, Luxembourg.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
E. Steer, 'Derek Fordjour Uses Sport as the Perfect Allegory for Organised Society', in Elephant, issue 44, 16 October 2020.
Luxembourg, Zidoun-Bossuyt Gallery, TRANSMISSION: Noel W. Anderson, Derek Fordjour, David Hammons, Glenn Ligon, Wangechi Mutu and Jeff Sonhouse, 2019.
Special notice
This lot will be removed to our storage facility at Momart. Christie’s will inform you if the lot has been sent offsite. Our removal and storage of the lot is subject to the terms and conditions of storage which can be found at and our fees for storage are set out in the table below - these will apply whether the lot remains with Christie’s or is removed elsewhere. Please call Christie’s Client Service 24 hours in advance to book a collection time at Momart. All collections from Momart will be by pre-booked appointment only. Tel: +44 (0)20 7839 9060 Email: If the lot remains at Christie’s it will be available for collection on any working day 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. Lots are not available for collection at weekends. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

Brought to you by

Tessa Lord
Tessa Lord Senior Specialist, Head of Department

Lot Essay

In Derek Fordjour’s Three Point Bend (2019), a young man bends backwards in an impressive athletic display. His busby, cape and striped regalia—glowing in vibrant purple and orange tones—mark him as the leader of a marching band, performing the elaborate pre-game salute known as a drum major backbend. Fordjour’s complex multimedia technique, involving acrylic, charcoal and oil pastel applied to a collaged and carved newspaper ground, produces rich depths of colour and texture, from a red underglow in the man’s uniform to eroded, sedimentary layers of blue and green that flash from the striped backdrop. Alone, these vertical stripes might simply be an abstract pattern; interacting with the spiral of the man’s arched body, they create a composition of harmonic, tightly-interlocking form. Fordjour often uses sport as a vehicle to explore ideas of aspiration, public ritual and societal identity in his works. The drum major figures as a celebration of Black achievement and leadership, but his position also speaks to the sometimes impossible contortions required in order to survive and thrive in the game of American life.

Born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1974 to Ghanaian immigrant parents, Fordjour received his BA from Morehouse College in 2001, later earning a master’s in arts education from Harvard University. He graduated with an MFA in Painting from Hunter College in 2016, and has since risen to huge acclaim. Following his 2017 exhibition PARADE at the Sugar Hill Museum in New York, he completed the monumental public installation Half Mast as part of the 2018 Whitney Museum of American Art Billboard Project. That same year, Fordjour won a commission from New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority to create a suite of permanent mosaic installations at 145th Street Station in Harlem. One of these murals, closely related to the present work, presents a line-up of five drum majors against a backdrop of glittering confetti. More recently, in March 2022 his colossal artwork Sonic Boom inaugurated a new outdoor art series at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Covering the building’s façade, it too depicts drum majors and majorettes, and takes its title from the Jackson State University marching band, known as the ‘Sonic Boom of the South.’

Fordjour’s figures are closely associated with the marching band tradition of HBCUs—or Historically Black colleges and universities—in the United States. They also have a special resonance in Harlem, where Fordjour lives and works. Every September there sees the start of the annual African American Day Parade, featuring bands and participants from many different colleges, unions and advocacy groups. Forged during the Civil Rights movement in 1968, the parade exists at the intersection of pride, self-definition and ongoing struggle that fascinates Fordjour. In Three Point Bend, the picture’s formal qualities underscore the nuance of his vision. For all the beauty of its vivid colours and textures, its delicate, layered materials also bespeak the vulnerability of those who must navigate the public arenas of sports teams, education and the streets alike. Its bold, structural stripes, meanwhile—evocative at once of Pop art, kitsch Americana and Ghanaian textiles—slip between registers, reflecting an interest in pattern that Fordjour describes as ‘actually more conceptual than decorative. It is through the investigation of social patterns that I am able to ascertain some sense of progression, regression, replication, fixity or disruption’ (D. Fordjour, quoted in J. Wullschläger, ‘Derek Fordjour on painting the African-American experience’, Financial Times, 20 October 2020). Bending acrobatically against this social and material backdrop, the anonymised figure in Three Point Bend is poised in the midst of a glorious, perilous performance.

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