2 More


signed and dated 'Anna Weyant 2020 ♡' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
30 x 40 in. (76.2 x 101.6 cm.)
Painted in 2020.
56 Henry, New York
Private collection, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner

Brought to you by

Ana Maria Celis
Ana Maria Celis Head of Department

Lot Essay

Anna Weyant has boldly envisioned a new kind of figurative painting that is inspired by both art history and contemporary imagery. With three sold out solo shows under her belt, the twenty-seven-year-old artist has already made her mark on the art world, charming audiences with her engrossing, technically rigorous canvases that find inspiration from Instagram, the imperiled children of Edward Gorey, New Yorker cartoons, and the artist’s autobiography. Summertime is exemplary of Weyant’s reinvention of figurative painting. Accessible in scale, Summertime could be a window onto a world like our own. Weyant’s worlds envision women who are both relatable and ethereal, and they are oftentimes based on the artist’s friends. She creates a community of characters who we might see ourselves in, complete with all our foibles and failures, thereby creating a new realism for the social media era. Earlier this year, Weyant worked with Interscope Records to reimagine the cover of Gwen Stefani’s iconic album The Sweet Escape, and she has been a part of important group shows at the Flag Art Foundation, New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Green Family Art Foundation, Dallas.

Summertime, evocative of blithe joy and the outdoors, is conversely for Weyant a moment of introspection within a dark interior. Her deft marks in Summertime converge into a nearly photographic image, pristinely rendered with utmost skill. The colors are dramatic, yet reserved and earthy, not unlike the dramatic quality of Baroque artists like Caravaggio. Of this choice, Weyant reveals, “I don’t want to be distracted by color. I prefer a more muted palette,” which allows her to delve even more forcefully into her chosen narrative (A. Weyant, quoted in B. Powers, “The Credible Image: An Interview with Anna Weyant on the Occasion of Her Solo Exhibition ‘Loose Screw,’ Autre, March 5, 2021). Also akin to Man Ray’s iconic Noire et Blanche (1926), Summertime is a surreal still life featuring the bust of a beautiful woman draped upon a table like a place setting, her skin luminous in contrast to her surroundings. Her auburn hair tumbles out of the frame, uniting our space with hers and drawing us in with sensual details.

A simple arrangement of flora in olive tones emerges from a studded vase, which casts a deep shadow symbolic of the protagonist’s state of mind. She is lost in thought about something we cannot access and filled with glamorous ennui. However, the verdant arrangement beside her symbolizes optimism. While summer at this moment may feel like winter, the sunlight will surely break through soon.

History is Weyant’s medium. As critic Cole Sweetwood argues, “In terms of technical ability, Weyant’s works rival the Dutch Golden Age masters which inspire her work, and in terms of narrative, she surpasses them. Through her beautifully rendered oil portraits and still-lifes, Weyant constructs fantastical vignettes engaging with absurd and often unsettling subjects” (C. Sweetwood, “Pick of the Week: Anna Weyant, Alexander Tovborg, and Asuka Anastacia Ogawa: Blum and Poe,” Artillery, April 21, 2021). The greatest painters, after all, always capture something about human interiority in addition to the exterior world, and Weyant is unrivaled in that dual pursuit. In so doing, she also brings the artistic concerns of Rembrandt and Vermeer into the present, suggesting that there is a universal possibility across time for what can be revealed by painting.

Weyant populates her art historical remixes with friends, and offers us tragi-comic exercises in empathy, “I definitely have a complicated relationship with these girls who are non-existent, but I spend most of my time with them, so they’ve certainly become real. I would love for my audience to share a relationship with this pathetic and sympathetic character. I think there’s humor in that, and I hope people can feel it. Humor is so important to me as a way of healing and just living through bad things” (A. Weyant, quoted in S. Bogojev, “Anna Weyant: Welcome to the Dollhouse,” Juxtapoz, n.d.). Summertime reminds us that we have all felt alone as we long for intimacy and friendship. Weyant is thus a documentarian of sorts, chronicling our most intimate moments with elegance and truthfulness. She never shys away from uncomfortable emotions and narratives that are reflective of our lived experiences.
To modify a quote from Lana Del Rey’s cover of “Doin’ Time,” “Summertime and the livin’s not easy,” but even so, there is beauty in the present canvas’s captivating and unflinching representation of the realities of life. We cannot know what will befall this young woman, but we can be sure that Weyant will continue to push the boundaries of representational painting. Summertime is a key moment in Weyant’s development that evinces a loving, thoughtful relationship to the history of art, even as she bravely makes it her own.

More from 21st Century Evening Sale

View All
View All