mark bradford - biting the book - phillips london


WHEN THE HAMMER CAME DOWN at Phillips London, Mark Bradford’s “Biting the Book” sold for more than $3.8 million, a record for the Los Angeles-based artist. A large-scale, mixed-media painting created in 2013, it was featured in Bradford’s “Through the Darkest America by Truck and Tank” exhibition at the Bermondsey location of White Cube gallery in London. The lot sold at Phillips Contemporary Art Evening sale on Feb. 12, 2015.

Composed of found media, including merchant posters from the Leimert Park neighborhood surrounding his studio, Bradford’s mixed-media collages are an exercise in social abstraction.

Inspired by the physical mapping of the U.S. highway system and its symbolism, “Biting the Book” is a layered collage of sky gray, juxtaposed with shots of arresting color. In a Phillips press release issued in advance of the auction, the painting was promoted as one of the “leading highlights” of the sale and described thus: “The surface is a huge and ravaged landscape, tired, attacked, bleached and scoured, but fluorescent hints of sub-tectonic vibrancy shine through: erasure results in new opportunities.”

The 2013-14 exhibition’s title, “Through the Darkest America by Truck and Tank,” is from a chapter in the memoir of Dwight D. Eisenhower, who got the idea to develop a nationwide highway network (with its military use top of mind) from Germany. Bradford discussed the concept behind the exhibiition in a conversation published in the coinciding catalog.

“…What is also interesting to me about freeways is that they always cut through poor neighborhoods. Poor people have a much more immediate relationship to freeways because they are usually in their backyards,” Bradford said. “A freeway is a class marker, depending on which side of the freeway you are on.”

“Poor people have a much more immediate relationship to freeways because they are usually in their backyards. A freeway is a class marker, depending on which side of the freeway you are on.” — Mark Bradford

Estimated to sell for $1.5 million to $2.3 million, “Biting the Book” far exceeded expectations, garnering $3,870,680, a record price for Bradford according to auction results, Iris Index and other auction sales tracking sources.


theaster gates - for race riots... - chrisite's
THEASTER GATES, “For Race Riots and Salon Gatherings,” 2011 (wood, glass and hoses, in six parts). | via Christie’s


OVER AT CHRISTIE’S LONDON, Theaster Gates posted a record sale during the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction. A six-part installation of framed objects created in 2011, “For Race Riots and Salon Gatherings” sold for $369,328 on Feb. 11, 2015.

A mixed-media installation artist-cum-urban planner, Gates is known for harvesting social symbolism in found objects. Here is how Christie’s described the artist’s record-setting lot: “In a series of wooden frames, made from old mouldings, mantle pieces and floor boards, various lengths of decommissioned fire hoses are coiled, folded and stacked behind panes of glass. Haunting vestiges of America’s past, they reference the hoses used to violently disband peaceful Civil Rights demonstrators in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963.”

“For Race Riots and Salon Gatherings” was on view in “An Epitaph for Civil Rights” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. The 2011-12 presentation was Gates’s first solo museum exhibition on the West Coast.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Jay Jopling, Gates’s London dealer, was the high bidder on the lot. Jopling is the founder of White Cube Gallery, which also represents Bradford.

On Feb. 13, the newspaper reported: “Christie’s on Wednesday set a record for Chicagoan Theaster Gates with his installation of wood, glass and hoses titled ‘For Race Riots and Salon Gatherings,’ which sold for $369,000. But the work sold well under its $533,000 high estimate and the buyer was Mr. Gates’s dealer, Jay Jopling, widely known in the art world for propping up the secondary markets of his artists.”

The Wall Street Journal said that Jopling had no comment regarding the transaction. CT


TOP IMAGE: MARK BRADFORD, “Biting the Book,” 2013 (mixed media). | via Phillips


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