Njideka Akunyili Crosby, *Untitled,* 2011.
Photo: Courtesy of Phillips

The Dreamiest Paintings in Phillips’s ‘New Now’ Auction

Works by buzzworthy talents Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Nicolas Party, and Jonathan Lyndon Chase lead the sale

On March 4, Phillips New York kicks off its “New Now” sale, featuring some 200 works from the 20th and 21st centuries. Embodying a forward-thinking approach, the auction mixes fresh works by both established artists and up-and-coming talents, with a focus on the latter. Held twice a year, in New York and London, the sale offers pieces with relatively modest estimates and sees a huge engagement online, signaling an interest from a younger generation of collectors.

“I’m thrilled to present this extraordinary group of works,” states Samuel Mansour, who is spearheading the auction in New York. “The sales have come to be viewed as a bellwether of the market.”

If there’s a dominant medium or aesthetic in the art world right now, it’s figurative painting. Here, we share works by the masters of the form and what you need to know about their markets.

Nicolas Party, Untitled (Landscape), 2013. Photo: Courtesy of Phillips

1. Nicolas Party

With his signature electric colors and dreamy landscapes, the Swiss-born artist has caused a flurry of interest among both curators and collectors alike in the past few years. After a banner 2019, which included a specially commissioned mural at the now-closed Marciano Foundation in Los Angeles, and solo shows at M Woods in Beijing and the Flag Foundation in New York, Party is now having his debut with the global powerhouse gallery Hauser & Wirth, which recently signed him. At the gallery’s L.A. space this month, Party has conjured a Technicolor dreamland with fantastical characters that hint at something more subversive. His work has hit the block a number of times over the years, with a record of $1,120,677 for Rocks (2016), which was sold at Christie’s Hong Kong in November 2019. His Untitled Landscape (2013) is on offer at Phillips with a high estimate of $80,000.

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Noah Davis, In Search of Gallerius Maximumianus, 2009. Photo: Courtesy of Phillips

2. Noah Davis

Noah Davis’s exhibition at David Zwirner in Chelsea this winter is the talk of the town, as the gallery hosts the largest ever presentation of the late artist. There are 27 works on view by the figurative painter, who died in 2015 at the age of 32 from cancer. His goal was to show African Americans in normal scenarios, highlighting intimate, personal gestures. His legacy has lived on through the Underground Museum, the institution he cofounded with his wife, Karon, in a row of storefronts in Arlington Heights, Los Angeles. Last May, Davis’s work came up for auction for the first time, selling for $47,500 against a $10,000—$15,000 estimate. His work Mother with Father out of the Picture (2007–08) then sold for $168,750, more than doubling its estimate of $40,000–$60,000. This painting from 2009 is on offer for between $60,000–$80,000.

Jonathan Gardner, Daisy, 2014. Photo: Courtesy of Phillips

3. Jonathan Gardner

The Chicago-based artist is causing a stir with his highly stylized work that takes inspiration from 20th-century modern masters like Henri Matisse, Constantin Brancusi, René Magritte, and Pablo Picasso. His collagelike, flattened compositions depict idealized, leisurely scenes of everyday life—with figures who lounge, bathe, read, or play an instrument. Last year, Gardner’s show “Desert Wind” at Casey Kaplan in New York was met with rave reviews. This 2014 work was exhibited at Mary Mary gallery in Glasgow in 2015 and is on offer for between $20,000—$30,000.

Jonathan Lyndon Chase, Untitled, 2016. Photo: Courtesy of Phillips

4. Jonathan Lyndon Chase

There has been rising demand in the past few years for this young Philadelphia artist, who creates large-scale mixed media to explore issues of race, gender, and sexuality. At the 2019 Armory Show in New York, three of his works were snapped up at the booth of Los Angeles–based Kohn Gallery. Both his 2019 solo exhibitions at Kohn and New York’s Company Gallery quickly sold out. His works are in the collections of the ICA Miami and the Walker Art Center, as well as the private collections of Beth Rudin DeWoody and the Hort family. This poignant painting, which was executed in 2016, focuses on his personal struggle as a queer black man in the U.S. It goes up for auction for $10,000–$15,000.

Ebony G. Patterson, Untitled Species I, 2010–11. Photo: Courtesy of Phillips

5. Ebony G. Patterson 

The Jamaica-born artist Ebony G. Patterson shakes up traditional gender norms through the lens of Jamaican dance hall culture, using materials associated with beauty or wealth, including tapestry, jewelry, glitter, beading, and crochet. In 2019, audiences were wowed by her project “While the Dew Is Still on the Roses,” an exhibition that features examples of the artist’s work produced over the previous five years, embedded within a new installation environment that references a night garden. This dazzling glitter-encrusted male figure was exhibited at the Studio Museum and Perez Art Museum.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Untitled, 2011. Photo: Courtesy of Phillips

6. Njideka Akunyili Crosby 

Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s work reflects on her own personal experience as a Nigerian immigrant living in the U.S. She shot to fame when her market reached a staggering high in 2018, when a work sold at Christie’s in London for $3 million, more than six times its estimate. This year, Crosby’s work will be shown in the third of a trilogy of solo exhibitions curated by Pulitzer Prize–winning author and critic Hilton Als at the Yale Center for British Art, in New Haven, Connecticut. The show will then travel to the Huntington in San Marino, California. Last year, she was selected to participate at the 58th Venice Biennale. This monotype on paper, Untitled (2011), depicts the artist and her husband making love and is on offer for between $60,000–$80,000.

“New Now” at Phillips takes place in New York on March 4. 

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