A CAPTIVATING AND MYSTERIOUS SCENE painted by Noah Davis (1983-2015) attracted a whirlwind of bids yesterday. “In Search of Gallerius Maximumianus” (2009) far exceeded expectations ($60,000-$80,000) and sold for $400,000, fees included. The price was five times the high estimate and established a new artist record.

Set March 4 at Phillips New Now sale, the new benchmark comes less than two weeks after an expansive survey of Davis closed at David Zwirner Gallery in New York. Curated by Helen Molesworth, the exhibition provided a rare opportunity to view a spectrum of his work.


Lot 14: NOAH DAVIS, “In Search of Gallerius Maximumianus,” 2009 (oil on canvas, 48 1/8 x 48 1/8 inches / 122.2 x 122.2 cm). | Estimate Estimate $60,000-$80,000. Sold for $400,000 fees included. RECORD


Davis had a brief, but prolific and meaningful career. He made about 400 paintings, collages, and sculptures and co-founded the Underground Museum in Los Angeles before his untimely death at age 32 from a rare form of cancer.

“…Davis’s paintings are a crucial part of the rise of figurative and representational painting in the first two decades of the twenty-first century,” Molesworth wrote in her description for the exhibition.

“Loneliness and tenderness suffuse his rigorously composed paintings, as do traces of his abiding interest in artists such as Marlene Dumas, Kerry James Marshall, Fairfield Porter, and Luc Tuymans. Davis’s pictures can be slightly deceptive; they are modest in scale yet emotionally ambitious.”

“…Davis’s paintings are a crucial part of the rise of figurative and representational painting in the first two decades of the twenty-first century.” — Helen Molesworth

He made beautiful paintings, even when his subject was unsettling. Historically, Gaius Galerius Valerius Maximianus (250-311 A.D.) was a Roman emperor who persecuted Christians.

“In Search of Gallerius Maximumianus” depicts a disembodied head with hollowed-out eye sockets lying on the ground adjacent to what appear to be large, angular shards of metal lodged in the terrain. In the distance, a group of people—all wearing white shirts and black pants in the manner of cater waiters—perform an indeterminable task. A canopy of clouds hangs low over the surreal and somber scene.


Lot 25: ED CLARK, “Untitled (Acrylic #1) from the series Louisiana,” 1978 (acrylic on canvas, 66 1/2 x 92 inches / 168.9 x 233.7 cm). | Estimate $200,000-$300,000. Sold for $462,500 fees included. TOP LOT


“In Search of Gallerius Maximumianus” bested Davis’s previous auction record set last year when “Single Mother with Father out of the Picture” (2007-08) sold for $168,750 at Phillips on Nov. 13, 2019.

The Phillips New Now sale in New York focuses on contemporary art and “champions a wide range of works, showcasing emerging artists alongside established names.” About 30 works by black artists were represented in the sale of 195 lots.

Davis’s “In Search of Gallerius Maximumianus” achieved the third-highest price in the auction. An abstract painting by Ed Clark (1926-2019) was the top lot. Paying homage the artist’s home state, “Untitled (Acrylic #1) From the series Louisiana” (1978) sold for $462,500.

Clark also recently had an important exhibition of his work in a New York gallery. His first show with Hauser & Wirth was on view when he died last October at age 93.

A work on paper by Clark and a diptych by Jeff Sonhouse rounded out the top 10 lots. “Inauguration of the Solicitor” (2005), a mixed-media painting by Sonhouse, was featured in the Studio Museum in Harlem’s “Frequency” exhibition (Nov. 9, 2005-March 12, 2006). The Sonhouse diptych sold for $162,500, eight times the high estimate ($15,000-$20,000).

Clark’s “Untitled” (1986) pigment on paper work, sold for $180,000 and set a record for the artist in the medium. Works by Leonardo Drew, Radcliffe Bailey, and Robert Pruitt also set new artist records. CT


READ MORE about facts and analysis around gaining resale royalty rights from auction sales for artists and their estates


Forthcoming in September, 2020 “Noah Davis” accompanies the exhibition that opened at David Zwirner Gallery and will be presented in part at the Underground Museum opening March 21, 2020. “Ed Clark: A Survey” was published recently to accompany a career-spanning exhibition at Mnuchin Gallery in New York. The fully illustrated volume includes an essay by Antwaun Sargent. “Ed Clark: Big Bang” documents the artist’s Tilton Gallery exhibition curated by David Hammons, while “Le Mouvement: The Retrospective Ed Clark” documents a 2013 exhibition at N’Namdi Contemporary in Miami.


Lot 15: JEFF SONHOUSE, “Inauguration of the Solicitor,” 2005 (acrylic, oil, matches, match striker pads and paper on wood, diptych, each 17 3/4 x 13 inches 45.1 x 33 cm.; overall 17 3/4 x 26 1/4 inches / 45.1 x 66.7 cm). | Estimate $15,000-$20,000. Sold for $162,500 fees included. NO. 10 LOT


Lot 26: ED CLARK, “Untitled,” 1986 (dry pigment on paper, 48 x 65 1/4 inches / 121.9 x 165.7 cm). | Estimate $40,000-$60,000. Sold for $180,000 fees included. RECORD WORK ON PAPER


Lot 99: ROBERT PRUITT, “Brother Going to Gleise,” 2011 (conté, charcoal and gold leaf on hand-dyed paper, 49 1/2 x 38 1/4 inches / 125.7 x 97.2 cm). | Estimate $8,000-$12,000. Sold for $17,500 fees included. RECORD


Lot 133: RADCLIFFE BAILEY, Untitled, 2001 (gouache on photo and paper collage, 50 x 78 1/4 inches / 127 x 198.8 cm). | Estimate $10,000-$15,000. Sold for $30,000 fees included. RECORD


Lot 135: LEONARDO DREW, “Number 23,” 1992 (cloth and nails on panel, in 29 parts, 96 x 120 x 8 inches / 243.8 x 304.8 x 20.3 cm). | Estimate $40,000-$60,000. Sold for $105,000 fees included. RECORD


Lot 4: DERRICK ADAMS, “Floater 20,” From the series Floaters, 2016 (acrylic on paper, 49 3/4 x 50 1/4 inches / 126.4 x 127.6 cm).| Estimate $25,000-$35,000. Sold for $65,000 fees included


Lot 5: JONATHAN LYNDON CHASE, “Untitled,” 2016 (acrylic, marker, glitter and graphite on muslin
25 x 25 inches / 63.5 x 63.5 cm). | Estimate $10,000-$15,000. Sold for $23,750 fees included


Lot 6: EBONY G. PATTERSON, Untitled Species I, 2010-11 (rhinestones, glitter, acrylic, graphite and appliqués on hand-cut paper, 62 1/2 x 50 in. (158.8 x 127 cm.). | Estimate $15,000-$20,000. Sold for $30,000 fees included


Lot 12: WALTER PRICE, “Afro blue 7,” 2017 (acrylic and ink on paper, 38 1/2 x 50 inches / 97.8 x 127 cm).
Executed in 2017. | Estimate $8,000-$12,000. Sold for $17,500 fees included


Lot 13: HENRY TAYLOR, “Milwaukee Brothas,” 2007 (oil on cardboard box, in 2 parts, installation dimensions variable; cereal box 10 3/4 x 7 1/2 x 2 3/8 inches / 27.3 x 19.1 x 6 cm; Oreo box 2 x 8 x 2 inches / 5.1 x 20.3 x 5.1 cm). | Estimate $8,000 – 12,000. Sold for $17,500 fees included


Lot 16: NINA CHANEL ABNEY, “Untitled (89),” 2012 (acrylic on canvas, diptych: each 20 x 16 inches / 50.8 x 40.6 cm; overall 20 x 32 inches / 50.8 x 81.3 cm). | Estimate $20,000-$30,000. Sold for $80,000 fees included


Lot 27: SAM GILLIAM, “Color Flag,” 1993 (acrylic on polypropylene mounted to three wooden panels, 48 3/4 x 50 1/2 in. (123.8 x 128.3 cm). | Estimate $30,000-$50,000. Sold for $112,500 fees included


Lot 50: KARA WALKER, “Forging Freedoms, 1996 (charcoal on cut paper, 55 7/8 x 47 7/8 inches / 142.2 x 121.9 cm). | Estimate $20,000-$30,000. Sold for $65,000 fees included


Lot 53: KEHINDE WILEY, “Passing/Posing: Lady Innes Study,” 2004 (graphite and oil on paper, 60 1/2 x 51 3/4 inches / 153.7 x 131.4 cm). | Estimate $15,000-$20,000. Sold for $60,000 fees included


Lot 57: KERRY JAMES MARSHALL, “Preliminary Sketch for Black Painting,” 2002 (graphite and charcoal on paper, 20 1/2 x 25 in. (52.1 x 63.5 cm). | Estimate $30,000-$40,000. Sold for $43,750 fees included


Lot 60: TSCHABALALA SELF, “Trees,” 2017 (acrylic, colored pencil and thread on canvas collage on canvas, 54 x 44 inches / 137.2 x 111.8 cm). | Estimate $70,000-$100,000. Sold for $87,500 fees included


Lot 67: NICK CAVE, “Boo,” 2009 (mixed media, 72 x 15 x 9 inches / 182.9 x 38.1 x 22.9 cm, this work is unique). |Estimate $40,000-$60,000. Sold for $75,000 fees included


Lot 100: JOHN BANKSTON, “Red Turtle,” 2006 (oil on linen, 78 x 96 inches / 198.1 x 243.8 cm). | Estimate
$6,000-$8,000. Sold for $20,000 fees included


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