PHILLIPS LATEST 20th Century & Contemporary Evening Sale featured 36 lots and totaled $225 million. The result, Phillips said, made it the most successful auction in the company’s history.

A huge share of the auction value on May 18 in New York came from a 1982 painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988). The top lot in the sale, the untitled work featuring a horned figure sold for $85 million. The price is the third-highest at auction for a painting by Basquiat.


Lot 12: JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT, Untitled, 1982 (acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 94 1/4 x 197 1/4 inches / 239.4 x 501 cm). | SOLD for $85 million fees included. TOP LOT
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The monumental work measures about 8 x 16 feet. The artist made the painting in Modena, Italy, in 1982. It was a pivotal year for Basquiat in which he transitioned from a street artist who signed his work with the tag “SAMO ©,” to a wholly original figure in the art world with international acclaim.

The lot was consigned from the collection of Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa, who bought it for $57.3 million in 2016 at a Christie’s New York auction. At the time, it was the most expensive Basquiat sold at auction.

Basquiat made the painting in 1982. It was a pivotal year in which he transitioned from a street artist who signed his work with the tag “SAMO ©,” to a wholly original figure in the art world with international acclaim.

THREE NEW AUCTION RECORDS were set during the historic sale, including a new high mark for artist Reggie Burrows Hodges. “Intersection of Color: Suite” (2019) depicts three figures who appear to be seated at a sporting event. The painting sold for more than twice the high estimate ($200,000-$300,000) reaching $730,800.

Maine-based Hodges spent his childhood in Los Angeles and then lived in New York and Washington, D.C. He attended the University of Kansas on a tennis scholarship and majored in film and theater while also taking courses in African American studies.

Hodges explores storytelling and visual metaphor, often drawing on his childhood. The faces of his figures are black planes lacking facial features, fueling the notion of imprecision when it comes to memory. In an essay published to accompany Hodges’s exhibition at Karma gallery last year, his first solo show in New York, Hilton Als called his paintings “extraordinarily disciplined” and “rich, mysterious canvases” with a “cinematic creepiness.”


Lot 23: REGGIE BURROWS HODGES, “Intersection of Color: Suite,” 2019 (acrylic, oil and pastel on canvas, 48 x 60 inches / 121.9 x 152.4 cm). | Estimate $200,000-$300,000. SOLD for $730,800 fees included. RECORD


Hodges’s work first came to auction in October 2021. His previous record was achieved earlier this month, a week before the Phillips auction, when “Intersection of Color: Experience” (2019), a painting from the same series as the current work, sold for $705,600 at Christie’s.

Hilton Als called paintings by Reggie Burrows Hodges “extraordinarily disciplined” and “rich, mysterious canvases” with a “cinematic creepiness.”

AT PHILLIPS, the auction also offered works by portrait artist Amy Sherald and Ghanaian painter Emmanuel Taku. A number of artists from Ghana, working almost exclusively in figuration, are finding success on the international stage. From 2005-09, Taku attended Ghanatta College of Art and Design in Accra, with friends and fellow rising artists Amoako Boafo, Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe, and Kwesi Botchway.

Made just last year, Taku’s “The Three Damsels” (2021) pictures three women shrouded in floral garments nearly absent of color. The painting sold for more than three times the high estimate ($50,000-$70,000), garnering $252,000. The result is near his record, which was achieved in March when “Sisters in Lilac” (2021) sold for $283,357 (£214,200), at Phillips London.

Sherald’s “She was learning to love moments, to love moments for themselves” (2017) is a portrait of a woman with close-cropped hair wearing skinny jeans with a colorful, geometric patterned top reminiscent of a Gee’s Bend quilt design. The fifth painting by the celebrated artist to come to auction, the lot sold at the low-end of the estimate ($1.2 million-$1.8 million) for $1,482,000.

The auction results coincide with notable exhibitions devoted to Basquiat, Sherald, and Hodges. A landmark exhibition presented by the artist’s family, “Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure” is on view at Starrett-Lehigh Building in New York City through June 30. “Reggie Burrows Hodges: Hawkeye” opens May 28 at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockland. Sherald’s portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama is on a national tour. Organized by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, “The Obama Portraits Tour” is currently on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston through May 30 and will travel to the de Young Museum in San Francisco, where it debuts June 30. CT


* All auction results include Buyer’s Premium fees, unless otherwise noted. Estimates do not include fees. Sources: Artprice and Phillips


FIND MORE about resale royalty rights for visual artists from the Center for Art Law, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based nonprofit


Lot 17: AMY SHERALD, “She was learning to love moments, to love moments for themselves,” 2017 (oil on canvas, 54 1/8 x 43 inches / 137.5 x 109.2 cm). | Estimate $1.2 million-$1.8 million. SOLD for $1,482,000 fees included


Lot 18: EMMANUEL TAKU, “The Three Damsels,” 2021 (acrylic and collage on canvas, 78 7/8 x 78 3/4 inches / 200.5 x 200 cm). | Estimate $50,000-$70,000. SOLD for $252,000 fees included


“Jean-Michel Basquiat: King Pleasure©” is a new, fully illustrated volume published on the occasion of the blockbuster exhibition. Exploring the artist’s use of found objects and unconventional materials, “Jean-Michel Basquiat: Art and Objecthood” is forthcoming in October. For children, “Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat” recounts the life and work of the artist who died at age 27. “Reggie Burrows Hodges” was published last year to accompany the artists first New York solo show stageed at Karma gallery. Forthcoming in August, “Ann Craven and Reggie Burrows Hodges: Moons and Angels” documents an exhibition presented by Karma gallery last year in the former St. James Catholic Church in Thomaston, Me.
Also consider, “The Obama Portraits” and “Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment,” a children’s book about a young girl’s reaction to seeing Amy Sherald’s portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.


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