CHRISTIE’S HOSTED A LIVE Post-War to Present auction this week, setting four artist records for Derrick Adams, Elaine de Kooning, Jammie Holmes, and Lucas Samaras.

Two figurative paintings set new benchmarks for Adams and Holmes. The second lot in the auction, “Figure in the Urban Landscape 31” (2019) by Adams doubled expectations. The two-figure portrait of a father and daughter was expected to reach about $100,000-$150,000, and sold for $250,000 (fees included in all sales results). The price was a new auction high for a work by Adams.


Lot 2: DERRICK ADAMS (b. 1970), “Figure in the Urban Landscape 31” 2019 (acrylic, graphite, ink, fabric on paper, grip tape and model cars on wood panel, 60 x 60 inches / 152.4 x 152.4 cm). | Estimate $100,000-$150,000. Sold for $250,000 fees included. RECORD


In 2019, Rhona Hoffman Gallery in Chicago presented “Derrick Adams: The Ins and Outs: Figures in the Urban Landscape,” a show of new paintings that spoke to the “legacy of perseverance in the Black community” and the “joys and struggles of navigating life in an urban context.”

The exhibition featured “Figure in the Urban Landscape 31.” A modern family portrait inspired by Pop art and African sculpture, the image pays homage to treasured experiences borne of quotidian moments.

For Baltimore-born, Brooklyn-based Adams, his previous high mark was achieved in 2018, when “Floater 48 (Unicorn)” (2017) sold for $81,250 at Sotheby’s May 2018 auction benefitting the Studio Museum in Harlem.

“This Week’s Last Supper” (2020) by Holmes, an emerging artist, was Lot 24. The painting depicts a woman in a salmon pink tank dress minding a pot on the stove. Produced in a loose abstracted style, the kitchen scene suggests a backdrop of purple, filigree-patterned wallpaper, a wall-mounted air conditioning unit, and a hint of the black-and-white checkerboard flooring that regularly appears in Holmes’s work.

The title of the painting, its tentative rendering, and her weary, downcast eyes, frame the moment with deep emotion. Is his subject relieved that the heavy lifting in the kitchen is over for the week, unsure where her next meal is coming from, or is something even more dire regarding her well being afoot?

The painting sold for twice the high estimate ($40,000-$60,000), reaching $137,5000, a new artist record. His previous benchmark was set in December 2020 when “Segregation” (2019) sold for $94,500 at Phillips New York.


Lot 24: JAMMIE HOLMES (b. 1984), “This Week’s Last Supper,” 2020 (acrylic and oil pastel on canvas, 48 x 60 inches / 121.9 x 152.4 cm.). | Estimate $40,000-$60,000. Sold for $137,500 fees included. RECORD


Based in Dallas, Texas, Holmes is a self-taught artist from Thibodaux, La. Describing his practice in his bio, Holmes states that his work “tells the story of contemporary life for many black families in the Deep South. Through portraiture and tableaux, Holmes depicts stories of the celebrations and struggles of everyday life, with particular attention paid to a profound sense of place.” His work was recently showcased in “To Be Determined,” a collection exhibition at Dallas Museum of Art.

“This Week’s Last Supper” was acquired from “Anatomy: Jammie Holmes,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at Library Street Collective. His second solo show with the Detroit gallery is forthcoming later this year.

Recently acquired in 2019 and 2020, the paintings by Adams and Holmes were both flipped—consigned to auction shortly after being purchased from galleries, earning tidy profits for their owners with no direct benefit to the artists.

In addition to the record breakers, the March 9 sale in New York featured a diptych by Titus Kaphar and three paintings by Henry Taylor, including a untitled portrait of a long-haired and long-bearded man with a 40-ounce bottle of malt liquor that sold for $156,250, more than three times the high estimate ($35,000-$45,000).

Works by Norman Lewis (1909-1979), Julie Mehretu, Kara Walker, Stanley Whitney, and Jack Whitten (1939-2018), were also up for bid.

The Post-War to Present auction offered 120 lots and results totaled more than $23 million, with an 86 percent sell through rate by lot and 92 percent by value. Prices hammered at 123 percent of low estimates. CT


FIND MORE about Jammie Holmes and Derrick Adams on their websites


READ MORE 50 years ago an artist’s manifesto called for “the right to claim 15 percent of any resale profits, giving artists a voice in how their work is used and a share in its future value”


Lot 21: HENRY TAYLOR (b. 1958), “Untitled,” circa 2000 (oil on canvas, 40 ¾ x 26 1/8 inches / 103.5 x 66.4 cm). | Estimate $35,000-$40,000. Sold for $156,250 fees included


Lot 4: TITUS KAPHAR (b.1976), “Sacrifice,” 2011 (diptych—oil on canvas, overall: 70 x 106 inches / 177.8 x 269.2 cm). | Estimate $300,000-$500,000. Sold for $450,000 fees included


“Derrick Adams: Buoyant” documents the artist’s recent exhibition at the Hudson River Museum in Yonker, N.Y. Derrick Adams also contributed to “Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle.”


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