A Mix of Emerging and Established Work Is Leading Phillips’ Summer Auctions in London

The auction house is playing it safe with their Modern & Contemporary sales this year, with works by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, George Condo, Marina Perez Simão, Huma Bhabha, Cindy Sherman and David Hockney.

Pissarro's painting with women in a field.
Camille Pissarro, La sieste aux champs, 1893. Estimate: £180,000-250,00. Phillips Modern & Contemporary Art Evening and Day Sale London. Charlie Sheldon

Combining more than 130 years of art in a single sale featuring modern masters, established names from the 20th Century and cutting-edge names from the contemporary art scene, the Phillips Modern & Contemporary Art Evening & Day Sale in London on June 27 has a lot to love. The auction will open with the vibrant red and orange waves of Michaela Yearwood-Dan’s That your lovin’ makes it better (2021), which carries a £70,000-100,000 estimate. This artist is another of those under-30 talents who have seen a considerable rise in auction prices after becoming almost impossible to get access to on primary, where prices have also steadily increased in four years from about $20,000 to $75,000 and are now settled in the $100,000-120,000 range. This meteoric rise culminated in a new auction record of $880,000 reached at Christie’s in February of last year.

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Despite the most recent slowdown on stellar prices for ultra-contemporary names, the New York sales last month showed that the appetite for her work is still active, as proved by Freedom don’t come for free (2021), which exceeded its high estimate at Phillips. Contributing to her price increases are some notable museum acquisitions; Yearwood-Dan’s works are now in the permanent collections of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., the Institute of Contemporary Art in Miami and the Columbus Museum of Art.

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But the star lot of the auction is the remarkable Minotaur to Matador by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye from 2022. Carrying an estimate of £900,000-1,500,000, this is the largest triptych by the artist to ever come to market. Drawing from a rich series of art historical dialogues with other artists such as Goya, Picasso and Bacon, who similarly explored these subjects, Yiadom-Boyake takes a more subtle approach, creating a serene composition that prefers a more ambiguous and quietly reflective tone to the brutality.

Lubaina Himid, The Bird Seller, 2021. Estimate: £300,000-500,000. Phillips Modern & Contemporary Art: Evening and Day Sale London. Phillips

The sale will be the auction debut for the Turner Prize-winning artist Lubaina Himid with The Bird Seller: Are You Listening (2021), a playful example of the artist’s exploration of themes related to cultural history and Black identity, which carries an estimate of £300,000-500,000. Himid was awarded the celebrated Suzanne Deal Booth/FLAG Art Foundation Prize earlier this year with an accompanying exhibition at The Contemporary Austin, Texas.

Following hype generated by the recent show at Pace Gallery in Los Angeles and results in the $200,000 range a few weeks ago in Hong Kong, Brazilian abstract painter Marina Perez Simão is represented in the auction with Untitled from 2021, which has a high estimate of £80,000.

Abstract work by Marina Perez Simão
Marina Perez Simão, Untitled, 2021. Estimate: £60,000-80,000. Phillips Modern & Contemporary Art Evening and Day Sale London. Alex Braun

This time, the estimates are more conservative for another Brazilian Indigenous artist, Cico da Silva. The recent market attention generated by his shows at David Kordansky and MASSIMODECARLO was derailed by more modest results at auction as some of his works failed to meet the (probably inflated) estimates this May. At Phillips, one of his depictions of fantastical animals from 1966 has an estimate in the £30,000-50,000 range.

Another name involved in some interesting market dynamics is the Italian artist Salvo, who was the subject of a recent market phenomenon surrounding his lusciously colorful landscapes, strangely mostly fueled by similarities with Nicholas Party’s more contemporary ones. But now that Party’s market is readjusting, should collectors be worried that Salvo could face a similar fate?  This might be the reason for the conservative estimates of £80,000-120,000 for La Valle (2004), this time in London, despite a painting just slightly larger from the same year hammered at Phillips in May for $254,000—a final price that was still lower than what some galleries had started to ask for at fairs. In May at Christie’s, Salvo’s Senza Titolo was sold for $406,400, way over its estimate of $40,000 to $60,000.

George Condo, Green and Purple Head Composition, 2019. Estimate: £700,000-900,000. Phillips Modern & Contemporary Art: Evening and Day Sale London. Alex Braun

Other blue-chip names offered in the sale include David Hockney, George Condo, Cindy Sherman (with an iconic Untitled Film Still #21 acquired back in 1999 directly from Metropicture has an estimate of £300,000-500,000), Robert Nava and Kehinde Wiley, whose Female Fellah (2010) will hit the block. The latter may not easily find a buyer given the recent sexual assault allegations the artist is facing, which prompted the Minneapolis Institute of Art to cancel his solo exhibition. The Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha followed suit. For better or for worse, there’s no denying scandals in the art world affect the market.

A Mix of Emerging and Established Work Is Leading Phillips’ Summer Auctions in London